Pirating films and music was very much a thing from the late 1990s through the middle of the teens.
It has largely died down because paid streaming services delivered a better product at a reasonable price.
However, the media conglomerates have been creating their own streaming services and making their content exclusive in order to get the entire revenue stream.
So, now instead of Netflix and Hule with a large overlap of content and each costing less than a double sawbuck, you now have something north of dozen services, each charging at least $20/month and having narrow catalogues.
It makes everything a major pain in the ass.
Case in point, the Harry Potter films:
The rise of streaming video competitors is indisputably a good thing. Numerous new streaming alternatives have driven competition to an antiquated cable TV sector that has long been plagued by apathy, high rates, and comically-bad customer service. That’s long overdue and a positive thing overall, as streaming customer satisfaction scores suggest.
But as the sector matures, there’s a looming problem it seems oblivious to.
Increasingly, companies are pulling their content off central repositories like Hulu and Netflix, and making them exclusive to their own streaming platforms, forcing consumers to subscribe to more and more streaming services if they want to get all the content they’re looking for.
Want to watch Star Trek: Discovery, you need CBS All Access. Can’t miss Stranger Things? You’ll need Netflix. The Boys? Amazon Prime. The Handmaid’s Tale? Hulu. Friends? AT&T. This week it was Comcast’s turn in announcing that the Harry Potter films would now be exclusive to Comcast’s new streaming service, Peacock. Of course it’s not as simple as all that. The titles will appear and disappear for the next few years, being free for a while… then shifting to a pay per view model for a while:
No, AT&T and Comcast probably aren’t going to “share” the Harry Potter films, meaning that to watch them you need to embrace the Comcast ecosystem. And while superficially you can easily understand why companies would want to lock down massive droves of exclusive content to drive subscriptions as the streaming wars heat up, there’s a certain myopia going on in terms of the impact. There doesn’t seem to be much of an awareness of that while competition is certainly good, having too many cordoned off exclusivity silos and too many content licenses shifting under the feet of consumers could generate confusion and drive more people to the simplicity of piracy.So The Office is leaving Netflix in 2021 to go to an NBC streaming service…. pic.twitter.com/TdVgxfvsgk
— Jamie (@Jamie_2455) June 26, 2019
In fact, there’s some early anecdotal evidence this is already happening, and a few studies predicting it will get worse as every broadcaster and their moms jump into the streaming space. A 2019 Deloitte study found that nearly half (47 percent) of US consumers already suffer from “subscription fatigue,” and 56 percent were frustrated by quickly changing licensing deals.
The studios are painting targets on their shoes, and taking careful aim.
In just one example, the cost of YouTube TV has gone from $35 to $65 a month over the past few years.
This is not a good customer experience.