Who Will Win the Streaming Wars?

Netflix, and Hulu and Disney+ OH MY! When it comes to cord-cutting our list of “must-have” streaming services continues to grow. Pretty soon we won’t be saving any money at all, we will just be paying several different services that are part of the streaming wars! We once had all in one with DirecTV and Dish.

I get it though. Most of the channels are branching out into their own thing. Friends is leaving Netflix, and will likely crop up in a new NBC channel. The Disney Channel is making all of its content available on its own platform. CBS has refused to play with Hulu in favor of its own channel (CBS All Access). Where will the streaming wars end? Will we be paying a premium price for each channel we want to view now?

streaming wars

One of my friends combats this with a genius method. They choose one streaming service and watch all the latest and greatest offerings from them. Then they cancel and move on to the next service. For example, they could have Netflix in January and February, and then cancel Netflix and sign up for Hulu for March, April and May, and so on.

This method is great for people who only want to pick one service, since they still get to have all the different services, just not all at the same time. That is the beauty of the streaming wars! There are no contracts to break, and you can add and remove whenever you want.

We will eventually reach a tipping point with new services. I was starting to think that we were already there, but then Disney+ and FrndlyTV come along and it’s clear there is still room in the market for new services… if they are done well.

Even with these additions, we are already starting to see some streaming services close their doors. At the end of this month, PlayStation Vue will shut down. Many others might also announce their departure during 2020. With so many options, which services will end up on top, and does Netflix need to worry?

Netflix is no stranger to pivoting. We got a Netflix account when they first started back in 2002. At the time it was the direct-to-your-mailbox DVD rental service that changed the whole game. As the company transitioned to more of an online service, they started adding original content, knowing that owning the content would be essential in this streaming future.

I see two main ways this shakes out in the future. The first would be that all of the entertainment studios and businesses will have their own over the top service. We’ve seen this already with the previously mentioned NBC service, CBS All Access, HBO and more. However, people aren’t going to be willing to pay $5/month or more for every individual channel they want to watch.

As more studios create their own service, clear winners of the streaming wars will surface to the top. Many people may become unwilling to pay so much money for their entertainment. The services with the most content that people want to watch will win.

It’s similar to social media apps. There are so many, and new ones popping up daily, yet we all still go back to the same standbys as we aren’t willing to build up our friends list and login to yet another app.

In this model, Amazon is probably the main safe bet since the Prime Video service is mainly just a perk of the free shipping on Amazon. People don’t pay for Prime because of the original content or even the streaming at all. They will watch though because it doesn’t necessarily cost them extra to have it.

The other option is that there will arise an aggregate service that allows you to subscribe and unsubscribe to different platforms, but you are able to watch all of it through their single pane of glass. I could see Roku figuring this model out faster than anyone else.

They are already pretty close since you can search through the Roku app for any show or movie and then have it open in the corresponding app. What I would like to see is app bundles under this format though. Like for X dollars a month you can choose 5 services, and you select Netflix, Hallmark, ABC, NBC and the Olympic Channel.

This model would require someone who can negotiate with all the services for a killer rate. Then they can pass the savings on. I’m just not sure I could bet on any of those companies to play nicely together.

The benefit of this model though is it passes the choices onto the consumer. One reason I’ve stuck with SlingTV as long as I have is that I love their model. They just need to tweak it slightly so I can just select the 15 channels I want to watch. Then I only want to pay a set dollar amount for the 15.

I don’t need a base package with a ton of channels I’ll never watch. I just want to pay for only the individual channels I want to watch and nothing more.

The main reason people are cutting the cord to cable is that they don’t want to pay for a ton of channels they don’t need or use. They want to choose what they want to watch, and they aren’t willing to pay a lot of money. I’m afraid if we keep going down this path of additional streaming services we will just be right back in the same boat.

For now, I’m happy with the streaming services I’ve chosen (Netflix, Hulu, SlingTV, and Disney+… and Amazon doesn’t count, but I have that too). I will probably keep them all around for a bit longer until something else comes along to disrupt everything again.

Who Will Win the Streaming Wars?

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About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com

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