When Netflix had their big PR snafu and I thought the online streaming/DVD service might be cooked. I among others believed that a better, more advantageous competitor could come and steal their lunch money. And then something unexpected happened…Netflix reneged everything and went back to the way it was for the most part. Not only was there no competitor waiting in the wings (Hulu had already been around) people clamored for the reuniting of Netflix. Maybe we’re not really ready for the next evolution in television?
Everyone consumes television in slightly different ways. Some people like to record their favorite shows and watch them on their own time. Some people have appointment viewing and need to watch it live. Others stick to on demand, only watching what they want when they want without preconceived notions. Right now there are several options to specific needs.
This is the most stoic option. You get a plethora of channels for one flat monthly service fee. You can watch all the television your little heart can handle for that price. However, there are also a-la-carte options. You can increase your channel package size, add DVR and watch programs outside of their designated air times, use on demand for spur of the moment or out of season programming, add premium channels, and purchase movies. Each item comes with an upcharge that can make your bill look like the U.S. Census.
Online Subscription Services
There are a couple out there, but Netflix and Hulu Plus have this market pretty well cornered. With a nominal fee you essentially have an expanded on demand service at your fingertips. Movies and shows can be summoned from nearly anywhere provided you have a screen of some sort and an internet connection. If you want to watch a sporting event you’ll most likely have to tack on the individual sports service (e.g. MLB.tv) and hope you’re team isn’t subject to black-out rules. You’re also locked into whatever programming that service has rights deals to.
Pay As You Go Services
By this I mean your virtual stores, your Amazons and iTunes of the world. The pros and cons are pretty clear here. You get full freedom to decide your entertainment landscape (sans sports), but the more you add the more the cost balloons.
So what is the perfect service?
The answer is, at least in my opinion, that it doesn’t exist. My utopian television experience is a mix of all three. I would like the option to pick and choose my channels a-la-carte, have each show’s content available on demand after debut, then buy outlying programs on an individual basis. That way my experience is personalized and everything is in one place. It may be a looooooooong while before anything like ever happens, but a boy can dream can’t he?
Unfortunately, the powers that be don’t understand that a whole sale change like this will essentially eliminate piracy as we know it. I’d rather pay a fair price for legal (and safe!) media than pirate any day. Until then I’ll be crossing my fingers that the U.S. doesn’t follow suit with the U.K. and ban the Pirate Bay!
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