The streaming wars have begun. And, according to Slate‘s Katharine Trendacosta, these so-called streaming wars will be worse and far more harmful than the cable wars of years past, bringing with them “a fresh internet hell.”
Netflix’s success proved that streaming was a viable market, and now the companies that once were content to license their movies and TV shows to Netflix want their own piece of the action. But because there are so many ways to watch older movies and TV shows — spread out across syndication, several streaming services, even *gasp* buying DVDs — the way companies have decided to lure new customers is with a classic ploy: the exclusive.
Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon have all gone this route. Want to watch To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Shrill, or The Expanse? You have to subscribe (or in some cases buy a DVD that costs roughly the same as a subscription)…
Instead of the old horizontal bundling — in which cable companies packaged a bunch of channels together so that people paid for some things they weren’t going to watch to get what they were — the new bundling is going to be vertical, where you pay for internet and get a streaming service in return. It’s not just Comcast [with NBCUniversal’s Peacock] that’s doing this. AT&T owns HBO, and it’s going to give premium AT&T mobile and broadband customers HBO Max (not to be confused, although you could definitely be forgiven for doing so, with the existing HBO Go and HBO Now apps) bundles at no extra charge.
MacDailyNews Take: Forget about so-called “net neutrality,” which Trendacosta quixotically pushes in her full article, as there isn’t even an agreed-upon definition much less a realistic chance of getting meaningful rules/laws on the books that don’t stifle innovation.
Trendacosta’s better point is the one with which we agree: Support measures that promote ISP choice. That is the problem and has been since the internet bceame pervasive.. There needs to be more ISP choice for people, so that competition can work its magic as usual. Hopefully, 5G will usher in that important choice for consumers which will then force broadband providers to compete for a change, rather than dictate.