Arts, Column

Screaming at Streaming Services

So every week for a long time, I’ve been setting up the budget of stories for the arts section of The Heights. This includes perusing the events calendar for McMullen exhibits and Robsham plays, as well as sorting through the mess that is it the OrgSync calendar to see what dance teams are doing, or whether an a cappella group is having a show. But as I’m sure is very clear by now, the arts section also writes about things that aren’t going on at Boston College. This means that I have to have a decent handle on what’s coming out in the world of film, television, and music. With this knowledge, I carefully craft the artisanal selection of fruits and cheeses movies, shows, and albums that I offer to the staff every week.

For the television part of this, I use Metacritic. The site curates a list of new television shows sorted by the day of premiere. This helps me to pick out what’s current and also what is popular. Next to the names of the titles are the networks on which they premiere—CBS, ABC, USA, and more. But, more and more, the networks next to the show titles aren’t so much networks as they are streaming services, like Netflix, HBO (I know it was and still is a channel, but I think most of its newer subscribers are streaming it on HBO Now), Hulu, and Amazon Prime are popping up much more often than actual television networks. It’s no surprise that these monster platforms are creating their own content more often than acquiring existing shows.

What has been surprising, however, has been the appearance of other streaming services, especially as I look ahead at the coming months. For example, last Friday a show called Titans aired its first episode. I knew that this show was coming, and I figured that a new show about the Teen Titans might make for some interesting content. When I went to include its platform, I was expecting Netflix, or Hulu, or even the CW. Instead, it said DC Universe. I had heard tell of such a thing, but I thought that it was much too soon. The good times were not yet behind us. It wasn’t time yet. It can’t be time yet. I need more time.

For you see, DC Universe is a new streaming service that fans can pay for monthly or yearly that will create its own content and feature classic DC shows and movies. Which means that there might be yet another streaming platform that people will be expected to pay for in order to stay current on the latest shows. What worries me even more is that Disney has been working to do the same thing for quite some time. At the end of the year, Disney will end its agreement with Netflix. Next year it will launch its very own streaming service that will feature all of the Marvel movies as well as brand new Star Wars content. Since Disney is an even bigger and more ubiquitous set of properties than DC, this new streaming service is one that will definitely give Netflix and HBO a run for their money (and consumers a run for theirs). CBS is also doing this with CBS All Access (although it’s mostly Star Trek content so who cares?).

But the point I’m trying to make here is that it’s increasingly not enough to just have Netflix. It’s not enough to have Netflix and HBO. It’s not enough to just have Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and Amazon. And if you want to watch sports, you’re still paying for cable. I thought we had these huge streaming services because we wanted to get rid of cable. Why? Because it’s so expensive. But if I’m paying for six streaming services every month, am I really saving any money? And I still can’t watch baseball.

And my prediction is that, 10 years down the line, we’re going to have to do this again. We will have so many streaming services people won’t pay for that some of them will be bought by others, and we will go back to have just a few really really big services. Or at least I hope so. I don’t want to pay $60 per month to eight different streaming services just to rewatch episodes of The Office.

Featured Image by DC Entertainment

October 14, 2018

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