Netflix was founded in the late 90s, but it wasn’t until almost 10 years later that it introduced its online streaming service, which has since proved to be a success. The company has 148.8 million paying subscribers, is seeing major financial growth and is has a 52-week high of $419.77, monumentally higher than $143.51 and Comcast’s $43.96.
But with Apple TV+ and Disney+ becoming available soon, plus numerous services like Amazon Prime Video, CBC Gem, CBS All Access and Crave already on the market, it’s becoming a bit crowded.
Now that NBC has announced it too will be launching a streaming service, it’s taking The Office back from Netflix — a show that accounts for 7.19 percent of all streaming on the platform, according to Recode. The same will soon happen with Friends, which is expected to join a new, unreleased WarnerMedia streaming service that will cost between $16-17 per month, reports The Wall Street Journal. Netflix paid $100 million to keep the show on the service for a single year, making it clear that viewers will be interested in this show, wherever it ends up.
The main issue with streaming services is that one, two or even three of them is manageable. But when it comes to the dozens that are available today — all with geographic restrictions and none with the same shows — there are too many of them to manage. To make matters worse, streaming services are supposed to be an alternative to traditional cable, which offers thousands of unwanted and unwatched channels.
Want to watch the newest episodes of Silicon Valley? It’ll be $19.98 CAD. Or what about bingeing all of Schitt’s Creek? That’s another $4.99 CAD. Amazon Prime Video cost another $7.99 CAD a month (or is included in Amazon Prime for $79 a year), CBS All Access cost another $5.99 CAD and if you want to watch sports, Sportsnet NOW is another $19.99 CAD.
To people who’ve never paid for cable TV, that can seem like a lot of money and a lot of subscriptions to manage. But as someone who uses someone else’s Netflix account (don’t worry, it’s my parents password), these streaming services need to be concerned about — people like me, who either use the password of someone they’re related to, or even a friend, coworker or significant other. There’s no definite number of people who share their Netflix passwords — estimates put it as low as 14 percent, according to Recode, while CNET reports as many as 71 percent of people in relationships consider sharing their password.
The most important thing for these streaming services to remember is that by attempting to become more like Netflix, they’re actually degrading the whole concept behind Netflix. When DVD rentals were in their height, Netflix’ new streaming option was promoted as a way for people to view hundreds of movies at virtually the same time. It wasn’t dependent on the availability of the DVDs or how fast they could be shipped.
By forcing people to pay for each service separately they’re risking increasing the amount of illegal downloading or the number of people sharing passwords with other users. These companies are forgetting that in terms of streaming, quantity is just as important as quality — users will choose the service with the highest amount of good shows, because fragmenting services will force people to be more picky about what they use.