Over the past few years we’ve entered into the world of subscription services for entertainment, among other things. It started out with a few, but media companies have found the benefits of having their own streaming services outweigh selling their content to an existing service. At least, that’s what they think now, but what happens when people get subscription fatigue? It’s happening to me. Let me start by first listing all the entertainment subscriptions that I currently pay for.
- Amazon Prime (mainly for shopping)
- AMC A-List
- Apple Music
- DC Universe
- Stitcher Premium (Podcasts)
- The Incomparable (Podcast)
On and Off Subscriptions:
- HBO Now
- STARZ (though now that Counterpart is cancelled, I don’t see myself subscribing again).
- Various other podcast networks that I may subscribe to for a brief period of time.
That is a lot of subscriptions and it doesn’t include services that I would like to or will be likely to sign up for in the future. We know that Disney is starting their own streaming service and that’s where all the Marvel (and Star Wars) content will be. Apple is jumping into the streaming game with their own service (expected to be announced on March 25th). CBS has Star Trek Discovery and the reboot of The Twilight Zone on CBS All Access, which may be enough to tempt me to subscribe. Warner Bros. is launching a service with their film and TV catalog. Universal is as well.
At what point will consumers see subscription fatigue? Are they already? I am starting to feel that way. There’s only so much money I will spend on entertainment in a given month and there’s only so much time to enjoy said entertainment. This cannot be a sustainable model for users or for the services. I’ve only listed the ones that I subscribe to. There are many others, ranging from Britbox and Acorns, which caters to lovers of British TV, to WWE’s streaming service for wrestling fans.
Will we eventually see bundled subscriptions? That sounds a lot like cable, which loses more and more viewers each year partly due to price. Will some of these services go away? I wouldn’t be surprised if Hulu eventually goes away now that is majority owned by Disney. I think this could also lead to a decrease in quality of the programming as well. As viewers are forced to choose what new streaming services they want to pay for, total number of subscribers for each service is sure to thin. So, if you have less viewers, you are less inclined to continue producing a low-rated, yet high quality, show like Netflix’s Travelers or STARZ’s Counterpart. If your service or show is niche, the budget for said content is sure to be small.
I don’t have any answers to the above questions, and neither do the streaming companies. This is going to be a situation of wait and see how the market plays out. I think in the end we will see some casualties of the streaming wars with only the major players surviving. In the meantime, it’s going to be tough to pick and choose which services I should continue using.