It’s Time to Consolidate Streaming Services | Column from the Editor

Last year, Disney Plus launched, and this year, NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming services is set to launch, not long after HBO Max is released to the world. 

I’ve reviewed a lot of original content from streaming services in the last year, and by far Netflix has the most volume and highest number of quality original projects. I pay $12.99 for Netflix, and am in the (assumed) minority in which I am perfectly OK with spending $20 a month on the service, if it means it’ll allow its excellent original content to keep coming. 

Hey, Netflix is the only platform that would fund Martin Scorcese’s “The Irishman,” and is probably the only company that would take a chance on something as unique as “Dolemite Is My Name” and “Klaus.” Can you blame me?

But for the others, like Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, Vudu, Sling TV, Crackle — you name it, they’ll probably follow a trend of drip feeding a small amount of original content, backed up by respectable backlogs of old shows and movies. Which is fine, but huge backlogs aren’t platform sellers, as consumers come and stay for cool originals, and reliable classic binge-worthy shows like “Friends” and “The Office” are few and far in between.  

Nevertheless, we’re approaching a point where we simply have too many streaming services on the market. Consumers can handle three of these, but not 50, and it’s getting to the point where some services (i.e. Disney Plus right now) only have one or two good original shows to offer, which is not enough to support a streaming platform. And as the industry gets more fragmented as more and more companies want a slice of that streaming cake, I predict that this will only get worse, and inevitably, many of these platforms are doomed to fail. 

Which will naturally lead us to consolidation, which I think should happen now. 

I’m sorry, Peacock and CBS All Access. We simply don’t need you, and your content would be better served if it premiered on Netflix. 

That of course won’t happen any time soon. It’s clear that these platforms will only be abandoned when they cease to make money. What I think we’ll see is more efforts to bundle these services together, which cable companies have been doing well for a while in regards to including services like Netflix with traditional broadcast channels. And I think we’ll see attempts to bundle just these streaming services together in the same way cable providers effectively bundle together different TV channels, which might lead some streaming providers to realize how they’re paying for structural redundancies. 

But it is clear that we don’t need 50 different streaming services on the market. In fact, any more than three major ones might be too many for the average American household. 

Perhaps we will naturally get to that point — where only three major streaming services remain — as the more services that come out, the more likely we’ll see a major crash in the market for them. And after such a crash, only the strong will survive. 

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