The current state of streaming is... not great

I don’t do any streaming, having given up my Netflix account some years ago. When I do see TV it’s in hotels when I’m working. But last week I was away helping a friend recover from a surgery, and they had several streaming accounts set up on their TV. So I had the time to reacquaint myself with the TV, movie and sports world of the current day. Was I impressed? Not so much.

“Hey, let’s watch The Office”, my friend groans from under heavy medication. Nope, can’t. Not on such-and-such streaming service anymore.

“Cubs game?”

I check. Nope - depending on where you are you might need more than one streaming service to see any given Cubs game. This has been discussed in the MLB thread.

So the availability isn’t great. Now, I’m a child of the 70s and lived with just three channels on a black and white TV for a long time. So I realize these are first world problems. But, in the world we are currently occupying, friend and I found this annoying and unsatisfying.

Apart from needing several services to see the various things you might like, there is the issue of ownership.

Friend and I had earlier talked about watching The Great Escape together. Nope, at least not on anything they were subscribed to. Could have paid for a viewing on one or more services, but here’s the thing… I have a copy of The Great Escape on DVD, so I’m not inclined to pay for it again.

Call me cynical, but I think this is exactly what the media companies want. They had decades of people taping stuff with VHS, and now they have constructed a subscription system which means we likely don’t own physical copies of our movies, TV and music. So when Netflix gets rid of The Office, tough titty. Pay for it again on demand.

After coming home I mentioned this to another friend, who, it turns out also takes a dim view of the current media climate. Their solution is to pirate media, thereby ensuring they have copies they can watch any time.

Now, I’m being careful here. I even started a thread asking if and how I could post this opinion. So I said to my friend, “Isn’t that illegal?”

Their reply: “I’m sure it is, but I feel no guilt about it. I’ve bought media for years in various forms, but they have now chosen to make it available only under onerous terms. Fuck 'em.”

I’m a rules follower, for the most part. But I can’t say this changes my feelings about Pirate Friend. Worse than ripping a tag off a mattress? Probably. Does it make them a bad person? I’d have to say no. And based on my experience last week, I think I sympathize.

Posted this in the Pit, but thought about IMHO and Great Debates. Mods, kindly move as needed.

This is a period in which we see media companies jumping on the streaming train because it’s the only way to survive in the future. Yes there are alternative routes for media companies like FAST channels or trying to stick it out with linear TV, but streaming is the future and any broadcaster who wants a part of that must play in this space.

The next stage, and they all know this, will be the great purge. Streaming services will fail and that’ll be followed by the great consolidation, where streamers merge to survive whilst others close down.

Having said all that, there will still be lots of services to choose from and pay for. More than you might like. It might be that some or all of them offer a freemium option where you can watch the same titles with advertising.

The upside of all of this is that there is a LOT of content being created. Lots of stuff that would never have been made without all these media companies investing huge sums into their new services. And when one or two of them inevitably fold (or get swallowed up), the best of those titles will be find their way onto the services that survive.

It’s the streaming bubble. It’s just like the old dot-com bubble. It’s a shiny new thing and everyone is jumping on board. Most will fail because there isn’t room for everyone.

Those who fail will have their content snatched up by the winners, and we’ll see consolidation to an extent.

How much? I’m not sure. But I don’t think this expansion will last forever, it can’t last forever.

This is exactly why it can’t expand forever. People are only willing to subscribe to so many streaming services. Heck, there’s only so much one person can even watch. Only the people with the best content are going to be able to sustain it over the long haul.

Years ago: we demand a la carte TV options! Today: we hate a la carte TV options!

As rationalizations for illegal activity go, this seems pretty weak and more than a little expedient. While the law in this area is kinda murky, there is little to no chance authorities would ever come after viewers for streaming illegally posted content (excluding child porn). Uploaders and host sites, yes (especially if they charge $$$); viewers, no. That doesn’t make viewing any less illegal, but…

Having immediate access to current shows and maintaining copies of favorite programs are two concepts pretty alien to me. In days of yore, it used to take months or longer for newly released movies to show up on TV (with cuts and commercials), and I never had any problem waiting for them. I have a small number of VHS recordings of old movies and have found that once recorded, they were never watched. It seems not everyone shares these habits, but knowing a lot of what one wants to watch is available 24/7/365.25 online saves the money needed to buy copies and the space needed to store them.

An advantage of current streaming you didn’t mention is that there are plenty of free legal streaming sites offering a wide variety of programming, if not the latest hits. Quality online is likely much better than VHS tape as well.

An advantage of (free) pirate sites you didn’t mention is that some of them offer very rare and/or foreign movies and programming likely to never show up in any legal form in the U.S. – and especially not with English subtitles – because there is no substantive demand for them and hence, no releasing company would believe they could ever make any money off their release. The argument for watching online is that one is not actually depriving the legal owners of revenue because they are extremely unlikely to commercially exploit the material themselves; meaning, if it was not available on a pirate site - with English subtitles someone has taken the time and effort to add - it would otherwise never be seen outside its country of origin (and if rare enough, possibly not even then).

In general, I have found one’s streaming experience is largely determined by what one wants to watch and how impatient one is to watch it.

I love streaming and find it to be far superior to analog tv. Both in quality and price.

It was rare for me to ever buy tapes or DVDs. It would have to be an exceptional film I knew I’d watch over and over. There aren’t many of those. Most of the time I would rent it from whatever the local movie rental place was.

Then with Netflix they could mail me the discs, fantastic! And I did that.

Now with streaming I can just watch whatever, whenever. Not to an unlimited degree but my ability to watch things is also not unlimited.

My wife, she loves to own movies and still buys stuff on disc. And usually they are watched once and go on the pile where they join the clutter. :man_shrugging:

I can feel your pain. Over 60 years ago, I realized that, given reasonable technological progress, without invoking any yet-to-be-invented or paranormal technology, it would be possible to make every book, magazine, newsletter, research paper, image, and other material available world-wide online, instantly, for only pennies of cost, and a cost which could only decrease over time. Not long after, I expanded this possible pipe dream to include every sound recording and movie ever made.

From an archivist and librarian’s standpoint, this is a celebration of scientific progress and it is inevitable.

It is not technology that is preventing this from happening. Even the most obscure data source can now be digitized and stored cheaply, and there is always someone, somewhere, sometime who wants to view or hear it.

One major roadblock is copyright law. Another is simply inertia – we haven’t done this yet, do no one wants to start. Uncertainty begets fear.

I think the roadblocks will eventually be overcome, at least if civilization doesn’t use technology to blow itself up first.

This was exactly my thought.

To complain about “needing several services to see the various things you might like” seems, well, spoiled. If you want to be able to watch whatever you want to watch, whenever you want to watch it… what’s that worth to you?

And I don’t understand the complaint about “the issue of ownership.” Your owning a copy of “The Great Escape” on DVD means that you can watch it any time you want—as long as you have the physical object with you. But you seem to be complaining that owning the DVD doesn’t magically give you the ability to watch it when the DVD isn’t present, while in the same breath complaining about streaming replacing physical media.

There’s a ton of Office episodes on the free version of Peacock.

Except there’s an awful lot of stuff on discs that aren’t available to be streamed. I too, started out on Netflix renting discs then when they made streaming available, and I got a smart TV, I picked up that service as well. It was only a few bucks extra and gave me access to a not only a lot of Netflix-produced stuff but even general-release movies that weren’t on disc.

I considered dropping the disc-portion but after monitoring the situation for a while found there was still a lot on the queue that is not on disc. Netflix tags those that you can stream and I just checked. Of 23 titles in the queue only one could I watch right now by streaming.

I disagree.

The current state is wonderful for consumers.

I have amazon prime for the family which gives me all the delivery options I need (we order a lot through amazon) and as a bonus I have access to stream and download more content than I could every possibly watch.

Does it have everything that I want in one place? No, but then that has never been the case without a massive outlay on cable or satellite subscription or DVD rental or individual streaming.

Also, if I choose I can reactivate my Disney+ or NOW TV subscription on a month by month basis for less than £10 when I fancy binging on the stuff they have, or when I want to download a load of stuff for holiday watching.

I made the point some years ago that content (both movie/TV and music) has lost a lot of intrinsic value to many people and so they see no issue in pirating it. If you want people to stop doing that then you have to offer it at very low cost and ease of use.
The streaming companies now do that. I certainly no longer feel the need to download stuff illegally or even record stuff on a PVR. Streaming all the way, far easier.

The last time we had friends over, someone mentioned they’d never seen a popular movie. We all agreed it would be fun to watch/rewatch.

I own the DVD, but didn’t feel like going downstairs to my man cave and looking through my hundreds of DVDs. It was worth $2.99 to stream it.

My Wife and I used to have DirecTV. Not great, not bad, It worked. It was our only option.

We couldn’t stream anything though because of a very slow and limited internet.

Then we got Starlink and bought a couple of Chromecast doodads and we could stream. Works great for us. We now get a lot of stuff that we could never get before. I don’t even know how many services I subscribe to, but I’d say, if anything, we are saving a little money over our last setup.

Ditto. My wife and I don’t watch much (typically one series episode per night and maybe one movie over a weekend), so we always have plenty to choose from. We always have Amazon Prime but then we typically subscribe to one other which is usually HBO or Netflix. We just dropped HBO and picked up Netflix since some new episodes of shows we like came out. So, fairly inexpensive and plenty to watch. When we cannot locate a “free” movie to watch, we have no issue paying the $3-5 to rent a streaming version. That, along with the nearly free air popped popcorn is still about $30 less than going to a movie which we also do about once per year. I think Maverick is calling our names.

We have been purging our belongings. I ripped my many hundreds of CDs and gave them to a relative. We didn’t have a lot of DVDs, but they were donated to a relatives remote rental cabin. I’m also purging my books. Also, no more DVD or CD players.

Yeah, be careful what you wish for.

There is a boring sameness to most of the content. But, even that has some value. It is interesting to see the usual tropes from a Russian or Norwegian perspective. There is a lot available. The technology is incredible and the cost is reasonable.

The experience is different. This is not your parents TV. There is not the same focus to it. No event dominates like it did when there were only 3 networks. And you don’t miss anything. Missed the Olympics Luge doubles, no problem, it’s still on Peacock. At least for a while. Stuff goes away.

The main problem I have is the pile of controls and their interaction. Alexa kind of works when you are in an app and HOME can mean anything depending on which TV, which app, and which control you are using. Maybe I need an Android TV and a Viacom set top or maybe I’m just too old the learn.

Buying a Roku (and a Roku TV) was a revelation. I can search on the main screen and discover all the services a particular show can be seen on, along with rental prices and the option to add a service to my main screen.

For $1 a day you can pay for 3 services like, Netflix, Hulu and Prime, and fill in with free channels like Roku,, peacock or cheap movie rentals.

The streaming landscape is so vast it’s, frankly, overwhelming, we’re spoiled for choice. Yes, there are gaps and you have to know how to navigate that landscape, but the real problem is choice paralysis rather than a lack of content.

Is “some years ago” 35 or 40? Because I used to hook two VCRs together and copy all my rented movies back then. Copied audio cassettes, too. This is not a recent development.

My bolding. I don’t want to learn to navigate the landscape. Call me lazy, I don’t mind. But apart from that, I again suspect this is what the media companies want - for us not to do the sweat equity required to find what we want, and just subscribe to yet another service (or better yet, pay on demand). They got Kayaker to fork over three more bucks just so he wouldn’t have to go find his DVD. No criticism intended, but I wouldn’t do that.

Reading the responses, I’m starting to think I have different desires than many people. My friend I spent last week with, she likes to find something new that’s available, watch a few episodes and either continue or start a new search. I’m far too picky for that. I only try a new show or movie after reading about it. I don’t think I’ve ever just picked a show at random because it popped up on Netflix or whatever.

I also like to re-watch movies / TV that I think are good. So it’s important to me to actually own content. The more I think about it, this is more important to me than what annoys me about the various streaming services. I want to be able to see The Office, or The Great Escape or The Sopranos any time I want because I own my copies of them, and don’t want to be searching various streaming services to find it.

Now, do I want an all encompassing Mother of All Streaming Services, so I don’t have to search for things across multiple platforms? Probably not, as I do understand that would introduce other problems. But at the moment I think there are too many services, and in the end it’s the not owning that really irks me.

Then buy those on DVD and watch those as many times as you want. Or take 30 seconds to see that The Office is on Peacock & The Sopranos is on HBO Max.

There you go.