Tell me if this has ever happened to you.
It has been a long day. Fire drills at work. Nothing good in the refrigerator. Dog threw up. It’s fine. Fine. Fine. Because a new episode of “insert name of amazing series you are watching right now” drops tonight.
You put on your comfy PJs. Jump into bed. Fluff your pillows. Turn on the screen. Click on the streaming service icon. Choose the program. Find the new episode and press play.
Right there in front of you. Pay $7.99 to play. Wait. What? I subscribe to this service. You keep trying the same path with your remote. Each time you get more determined and deliberate, but you are still blocked by the paywall. You look at your remote. You look at the screen. Something happened. They logged you out. Why did they do that?
You utter some unrepeatable four-letter words. And then you sigh.
Now you have to use the stupid arrows on your remote to put in your username and password.
Of course, you don’t remember them. Which service is it again? You look up your username and password. Why did you listen to the IT people at work and make them so complicated?
Now, you get back to the remote. Down two, over left one, down three, over right two. Switch the keyboard to get to the numbers and the funny symbols. Back to the alphabet keyboard.
How is it they can make a device you can talk to to find out obscure details about the weather in Pimple Saudagar, in India or the recipe for the Bedfordshire clangers they just made on the “Great British Baking Show”, but you still have to put in your username and password with arrow keys on your remote? Get your priorities straight, team!
Eventually, after a significant amount of effort, you are logged in.
Lucky you. You now get to watch your show.
Aren’t WE the customers?
There are so many things wrong with the current state of streaming services. Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, CBS All Access, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Peacock, Netflix, Paramount, Paramount+….HELP
The log-in process
The pay-per-service model
The problem remembering which show is on which service
The fact that you are paying more today to subscribe to each individual streaming service than you used to spend when you had a bundle back in the good old days of cable
I started to research the back story of how we went from scheduled viewing on three friendly free broadcast stations, ABC, NBC, and CBS, to watching on-demand and paying more networks than there are letter combinations.
I have to be honest; it got very confusing. Radio, broadcast, phone companies, basic cable, premium, set-top boxes, VHS, Blockbuster blue boxes, Netflix red envelopes. Sling, Dish, Roku. If you say that three times in a row, it sounds like some kind of chant. And, don’t forget the cool kid conversations about “cutting the cord.” It is very overwhelming to me. (I’m sorry, readers. Some of you might find the history very interesting. If you do, check this out.)
Too many choices, and, too little time.
The amount and quality of content that is available today is overwhelming. We have so many options, we don’t know where to go. A whole new area of curation expertise has emerged to help us decide what to watch. Get this. Metacritic, is a website that doesn’t rate shows; it rates TV show critics. When I googled “what to watch tonight,” I got 2,630,000,000 google responses.
As a result of all of these choices, a whole new category of stress has developed. It’s less about FOMO (fear of missing out) and more like what will I watch next when “Better Call Saul” ends? Do I really want to dedicate time to “House of Dragons”? When does the next season of “What They Do in the Shadows” come out? And how do I watch shows like “Abbott Elementary”, which is on ABC - one of those old-school broadcast stations? I have enough trouble managing all of my responsibilities during the day. Managing my TV content consumption at night, too … is just too much.
Now that I think about it. Streaming services, I think I owe you a debt of gratitude.
You’ve created so much stress in my life that maybe it is time to open a book and read again.
Does anyone have any suggestions?
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I don't think you are the only one lost. I went through the same sequence myself in the last week. I do thin there is huge opportunity to allow us lowly consumers to access what we want, when we want in the way we want. That being said, the opportunity to go back to reading, a way of consuming creative content that actually makes our brains and imagination work would be pretty amazing. I have an old favorite by Neal Stephenson waiting for me.
I like the book option - probably not a helpful comment - I can’t keep up and rarely remember what people say is amazing. We started watching Industry last night - meh. I’m more intrigued to read a review about the show that Liat found in the Atlantic then to watch episode 3.