Hello, Streaming Wars: Worse than the cable wars and just getting started

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.”

Katharine Trendacosta for Slate:

Streaming Wars: 5G coverage will extend to all U.S. metro areas by year endNetflix’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.


    1. Who’s going to pay for the infrastructure buildout? Think about all the things that come over a wire connected to a telephone pole. One, telephone line, two, electric power line, three, cable line. Two of those are regulated as utilities. As Steve said, these are “dumb pipes”, thus should be priced as a commodity and regulated as a utility.

      1. Actually all three of those are government regulated utilities. You cannot occupy the public right of way unless you are a utility they are all thee just regulated to different extents.

    2. You should also have a twisted pair (DSL), satellite, and 4G choices (but other than that…)

      BTW no one is going to invest in buildouts in areas with less than 100 subs/mile of plant like KenC describes until 5G implementation shows results (good OR bad). It’s too expensive of an investment for someone else to just come along and beat the price while nearly matching the speed with much lower overhead (pun in there somewhere).

  1. Choice isn’t very useful when the average consumer can’t tell a good product from a bad one. When it comes to technological standards, the best product almost never wins.

  2. I’ve just cancelled Netflix again. I dip in for a month or two every year, but there’s so much rubbish that it’s becoming a pain to find decent stuff worth watching. I just can’t be bothered.

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