Monday, April 25, 2022

The state of streaming

Netflix stock took a huge tumble last week as news of 200,000 subscribers defected.  It dropped a whopping 35%.   You knew at some point the bubble was bound to burst just as it did for the dot.com industry.  The only question was when?  The possible end of the pandemic with people longing to get outside and resume their lives is certainly a factor.  Damn those vaccines and masks!   

And there is way more competition now.  But they're not flying high either.

Other streaming services also suffered losses.  Paramount Global Shares, Warner Brothers Discovery and Disney all were down from 11% - 4%.  

But Netflix was really reeling.  Their solutions: crack down on password sharing and start adding ads.  First off, these are not quick fixes.  They will take time to roll out and implement.  Secondly, both make Netflix even less attractive to subscribers.  With so much competition, there’s only so much a consumer will spend.  Who wants to pay $100 a month for seven or eight streamers?  You’ll live without BARRY or TED LASSO or certainly WINNING TIME.  

Services like Netflix are in a bind because they only keep subscribers if they provide good new content.  Once you've binged-watched THE WEST WING you're not paying to possibly watch it again.  So they can’t cut back on the number of new series and specials.  To do so would cause more defections.  What I suspect they’ll do is be more selective in what they buy, but that’s a trap because you never really know what’s going to hit.  SQUID GAMES anyone?   My fear is they’ll become more like networks and start hedging their bets with established stars and safer choices.  This too is not without large risks.  

I’ll be curious to see how they weather this storm and whether other streamers face similar fates.  

And then there’s CNN+.  What an utter disaster that is.  150,000 subscribers in the first month?  Kasie Hunt left NBC for this?  With so many 24/7 news services, why would people want to pay for another one?  It is shutting down on Saturday after only a few weeks.  CNN+ is officially the QUIBI of streamers.  

Streamers are the future, but they’re not licenses to print money.  There will be bumps in the road and refinement as they lead the way.  Mistakes will be made that are COSTLY mistakes.  But the Wild West is ever thus. 

46 comments :

Don Kemp said...

So is it possible that streaming isn't the Next Big Thing everybody says it's going to be?

Honest Ed said...

Oddly enough, I just did an inventory of shows that I want to catch up on over the next few months so I can reduce the number of streamers I'm paying for over here in the UK.

Prime and Netflix did really badly - though that might only reflect that we've watched a fair bit of their shows in recent months, so we don;'t really have a backlog to catch up on. And I didn't add Better Call Saul, which is on Netflix in the UK.

Disney+ and Now TV (which carries the HBO and Sky shows here) did pretty well, with a lot of shows, but mostly they're ones I want to catch up on, rather than shows which are top of my list (like BCS or Ozark)

Apple TV did pretty well, with a good number of shows and a few at the top of my list. But I don't have Apple TV since my year's freebie expired. I will, at some point soon. take a month's subscription, card all those shows in, then cancel. Which I suspect will become a bigger factor in the streamers market.

Funnily enough the phrase 'licence to print money' was originally used to refer to the ITV channel franchises back in the 50's. It's ironic that these original licenses are struggling to keep up with the new licenses!

N. Zakharenko said...

You refer to CNN+ as an "utter disaster" while Trump referred to it as an "empty desert".

It sure be the Wild West when Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid see eye to eye.

Rick Wiedmayer said...

At 72 years of age, the only things that I watch are Baseball, Hockey and Pro Football. The only show I watch is on PBS Death In Paradise. I could care less about any streaming service.

Andrew said...

Who was ready to pay big bucks for more Don Lemon, Anderson Cooper, Brian Stelter, and Chris Wallace? They're annoying enough for free.

kent said...

Netflix just raised their prices so I switched from highdef to 480p to lower the rate. Next I'll drop them altogether because Prime is just as good and costs less.

Kendall Rivers said...

It was bound to happen. I've been saying for years that like any other trend Streaming would have its golden era but would eventually lose a lot of hype and go down the drain due to over saturation. Just wayyyyy too many damn services to pay for and with this jacked up economy nobody's got the money to waste paying for a thousand services they don't have the time to watch anyway. Even people who work at home or aren't working at all don't have the time of day or night to watch all of those shows and movies, it's impossible. Too much excess of something always eventually kills it. Broadcast may be old fashioned and becoming a relic but the difference is that most of its free and there's just that appeal of watching something live with family or friends that's still there.

Lance said...

Consolidation is coming...

Douglas Trapasso said...

Thank you for answering my question! I figured you would have a lot to say about this.

maxdebryn said...

I usually get access to a streamer for a week/trial, binge on the series that I am keen to view, and then cancel. They do make this difficult, though, by airing some series weekly. I subscribe to Paramount Plus solely for THE GOOD FIGHT, and to watch YOUNG SHELDON sans commercials. Re: Kasie Hunt, I always get her mixed up with Katy Tur, so I hadn't even noticed that Kasie was gone.

Jeff Sweet said...

Except for a few, most streaming services have an annual rate that cost about what one ticket to Broadway would cost. And I can deduct them. So I’m happy to subscribe to about a dozen, including the sensational National Theater at Home, MHZ Choice (great foreign language stuff), Britbox (great BBC and ITV stuff) and the seemingly endless reserves of the Criterion Channel. As feature movies continue to decline (how many punchups between classical actors in capes can you watch?), it’s a treat to have access to so much good storytelling and to be able to check out a car chase set in almost any city in the world.

Mike Chimeri said...

My state of streaming has me subscribed to Peacock (ad-free) and the Disney+ bundle of Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu (ad-free). For all but ESPN+, I made profiles for me, my sister, and our parents. To get my money's worth, I alternate between services.

My sister has an HBO Max account through our cable provider and she and I have profiles there. I've used my Amazon Prime subscription for shipping more than Prime Video, but I'll watch something occasionally.

Netflix was my first streaming service and I was with them for three years or so before I ran out of content worth watching and grew disenchanted with politically-charged stand-up specials and documentaries. I paused my subscription for about a year; came back in the summer of 2020 to watch the last season of Fuller House and some other shows, movies, or specials; and paused again that fall. I haven't been back since.

Aside from those, I've had YouTube Premium for over five years. I subscribe to a handful of channels that either post big videos occasionally (GTV Japan, My Life in Gaming, Technology Connections), smaller videos weekly (Fascinating Horror), or smaller videos daily (Letterman). I used to subscribe to more channels, but gave some up due to disenchantment over one thing (too many "kind of"s or "sort of"s) or another (uptalk, disturbing gags, lack of attention to detail).

Someday, I will subscribe to Paramount+ and whatever else there is.

maxdebryn said...

Just a heads up for fans of British police procedurals: ENDEAVOUR, a prequel to the John Thaw INSPECTOR MORSE series, is available with a PRIME subscription. ENDEAVOUR is terrific.

Stephen Cudmore said...

It's the last big thing. Streaming has replaced broadcast/cable tv in the homes of everyone I know under the age of 50 years ago.

Whetherstreaming going to be able to persist indefinately under its current model is another question, but there's no question that it has made its mark, is no fad, and things aren't going back to the way they were in the year 2000.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Actually, the real reason for the mass exodus from Netflix was over the announcement that they're now going to start doing commercials on their content . . . even though streaming services include commercials on their content already, and you can't skip them either. At least with On Demand services from cable providers, you could fast-forward through commercials.

Brian Fies said...

One anecdotal data point: a few nights ago, my wife and I spent 20 minutes searching both Netflix and Disney for something a) we hadn't seen and b) was worth an hour and a half of our time. Couldn't find anything. We looked at each other and said, "Why are we paying for this?" I wouldn't be surprised if our answer soon is, "We aren't." When a customer's best alternative to your programming is "I'd rather stare out the window," your business may be in trouble.

VincentP said...

I subscribe to Paramount+ for "Bob Hearts Abishola," which has succeeded "Mom" as Chuck Lorre's best multi-cam (although Annaleigh Ashford makes "B Positive" a joy).

Oh, and regarding CNN+: Somewhere, Chris Cuomo is smiling.

Ted. said...

I feel about Netflix the way many people eventually came to feel about their 100 channels of cable TV: There's nothing on. Or, to be more specific, there's very little programming that a) I actually want to see and b) I haven't already seen. And yes, I still subscribe, but their recent price hike has made me reconsider.

Pat Reeder said...

I knew forcing people to pay for multiple streaming services would eventually collapse. I have very limited time for TV, and even more limited money, so I'm not going to pay for everything I'm remotely interested in seeing. I currently have Netflix, Hulu (because they offered it to me for $1.99 a month for a year), Discovery+ because I like old house restoration, and Amazon Prime because I like free shipping. I almost never watch the first two (I only got Netflix because my sister-in-law was staying with us, but she's gone so it's about to be, too.) Hulu will go as soon as the discount runs out. I thought Netflix would have a lot of great old movies, but it's mostly just a lot of new garbage that I have zero interest in. None of these services are as interesting to me as YouTube videos or the TCM app.

It reminds me of a bit I saw on YouTube, from an old Letterman show. He and Paul were talking about the advent of cable TV, and Dave started laughing uncontrollably at the idea of PAYING...for TELEVISION!! You'd think that joke would be dated, but no...

maxdebryn said...

If nothing else, Netflix has the series DARK, which is mind-blowing. In a good way.

Anthony Adams said...

Let me take just a moment to promote the YouTube model: on YouTube, the studio puts the content out directly without any use of a network. Yes I use YouTube as my platform but I don't have to I could just put everything on a web page And rely on advertising But either way There is no network involved There is no major source of funding involved. Now I produce philosophy lectures that nobody wants to hear, But there are people who produce television criticism, art instruction, history documentaries, and many other varieties of content. And they sell them directly to the consumer With the only person guaranteed to get a slice of the consumer's dollar is the processing company, whether it is YouTube or Patreon, or some other online service for getting money from the consumer to the producer. I watch Tom Scott's documentaries from the UK and Europe, Jimmy Rees' wonderful Australian social commentary comedy, new episodes of the old BBC Time Team, made for YouTube distribution , all supported directly by the viewer. I think the UK entries may get some funding from national humanities foundations but have no clear sponsor, other than interested viewers.

And I want to be clear on this I'm not proposing this is something for you all to consider watching I am proposing this approach to television production companies. The networks are in your way. Yes, they are the only way to get rich, but only if you make them rich. But maybe you don't want to be rich. Maybe what you really want is to see your work produced. But your program isn't turning enough profit to suit the networks. However, if it's turning any kind of profit you could continue to produce if only you had an outlet.

Direct distribution is a possibility through the internet.

maxdebryn said...

And here I was thinking that I was the only one with streaming difficulties. Oh well, I am an OAP.

Steve Lanzi f/k/a qdpsteve said...

Ken, just wanted to say: this is a good, rational, non-partisan take on the current situation with streaming, so thanks.

I personally think that with the current inflation (and whatever is causing it), streaming bills are one of the first things most families decide to cut, which just makes sense.

DBenson said...

At 67 my preferred media is still DVD. I grew up when seeing, much less owning, vintage classics and obscurities was not easy. Heck, you sometimes had to wait years to finish the Batman cliffhanger you missed, or to revisit the beloved Fleischer Studios Popeye cartoons. And the fare you whippersnappers take for granted on TCM was dribbled out in small portions on local channels, with abused prints and poor reception.

Now I've got a glorious hoard of silent and sound movies and shorts, cartoons, serials, TV shows and some plays. I'm not at the mercy of networks, streaming services or video stores. I can watch Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes ANY TIME I WANT. Hell, I can binge the whole series, then roll straight into Jeremy Brett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Cushing, Robert Stephens, Ian Richardson, Nicol Williamson ...

James Prichard said...

Sounds like you're not a fan of Winning Time, which surprises me given how many shows that we both enjoy. I think it's one of the most entertaining programs I've seen in a long time. It's got a great cast and a terrific look to it. The production value is amazing.

Epictastic said...

Ken, go see The Northman. It's fantastic, beautifully made, and it's so refreshing to see a big epic that isn't a superhero movie, a sequel or a reboot.

JS said...

I have so many hours of this life to live. I got all into "Bloodline" - they cancelled it after 3 seasons and it was rushed so they got a crappy ending. Why would I get into a show on Netflix if I know they are going to drop it after 3 seasons? They do this constantly.

thirteen said...

Here's another vote for being able to watch Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes any time I want. I'm 69, and the freedom to view what you like instead of what they like still amazes me.

Breadbaker said...

I have Amazon Prime for the free shipping (which will be even more convenient when they finish their five story warehouse a mile from me) and watch it when I like something. Our kids gave us Netflix access which we also use occasionally. 99% of our watching is on YouTube (thank you, BBC, for posting your quiz shows for free) and Roku.

Brandon in Virginia said...

I think we've hit our peak with streaming services. It's just too much going on IMO, and we're at the point to where I see a clip on Youtube and ask myself "What the hell is this?" I'm saying this as someone who was fairly pop culture savvy 15-20 years ago.

As for CNN+, most people don't even wanna deal with the newspaper paywall. What made CNN think they'd pay for the "plus", when the available content sufficed?

Pat Reeder said...

I second Anthony Adams on YouTube. I watch a lot of shows there (mostly informative/non-fiction, from "Tasting History" to "Food Theory" to "Wait in the Wings") that are just as well-produced and far better written than most big-budget shows on major platforms. I have no interest in overproduced superhero movies, but there's a guy in Japan who has a parrot, a red lorry named Gumi, or "Red Birb," that's hilarious. The bird has far better comic timing than any current late night host. He just points the camera at it and posts the results daily on YouTube. Today for example:

https://youtu.be/1qusxSWFgEw

I don't remember the last time I turned on NBC, but I watch those bird videos every day. I think that perfectly sums up TV in 2022.

Anonymous said...

I dropped Netflix when they said they were raising their price. I got hbomax as a present from my kids and paramount+ because of all the star trek. We have hulu hanging around because the mrs wants to see the final season of handmade tale then it goes. I refuse to fall into the cable trap of paying for a service I can't fully use. I didn't like paying for cables channels I did not watch. I didn't like paying to watch commercials. So when I run out of things to watch on streaming, I will move on. I was surprised to hear Netflix will start showing commercials. Once again... I won't pay to watch commercials.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

CNN+--the "New Coke" of the 2020s.

Anonymous said...

I always think of Letterman’s prediction that 1985 would be the year MTV and cable would go under

Anonymous said...

First it’s not a mass exodus. It’s a blip. Wall Street reacted because it was the first time they didn’t increase. They haven’t announced ads and it came up after these headlines. And if ads would be a separate lower priced tier. No impact on the current business model and subscribers

Anonymous said...

They aren’t running commercials

Honest Ed said...

That's another problem for the streamers. When they raise their prices, it's an invitation to customers to cancel. It makes them ask, why exactly am I paying for this. It'd be interesting to see the figures on cancellations after a price hike.

Louis Castaing said...

We keep asking for a la carte. But, as long as we have a middleman in the distribution system, we have to take everything they feed us whether we watch it or not. The nice thing about DVDs is that you only pay for what you want and there’s no waste. It is possible for distribution to be divorced from production. We don’t need 24/7 programming on the internet. We don’t have 24/7 DVDs and we get by. Nowadays, there are so many program producers and co-productions (often multi-national) seems like the sky is the limit. American audiences don’t have to have exclusive US product anymore. And television programs don’t have to be multi-million dollar tent poles with big name stars. Truthfully, nothing we had in the ‘50s through the ‘80s has disappeared. All of the current programming and distribution systems can co-exist with direct sales to consumers via the internet.

YEKIMI said...

Screw streaming. I always said I am NOT paying to watch TV. I'll deal with some commercials because in my rapidly advancing age I can make a break for the bathroom. The few times I watched [for free] NBC's "Law & Order: Original Law & Order, SVU, Organized Crime, Chicken Take-Out" or whatever they're investigating now " franchise on NBC's website many times the show wouldn't resume after the commercials....just went to black and stayed that way.....or would start buffering...and buffering....and buffering till I got so fed up I shut it off. Guess I'll just wait for the reruns to hit ION TV. As an aside, the only ones I MAY consider getting is Paramount + or Disney mainly because I'm a science fiction freak and between Star Trek spinoffs & Star Wars spinoffs those two have the bases covered of what I am interested in.

ScarletNumber said...

@Kendall Rivers

>Just wayyyyy too many damn services to pay for and with this jacked up economy nobody's got the money to waste paying for a thousand services they don't have the time to watch anyway

I would say the problem is more the latter than the former. Most of the services are reasonably-priced enough that paying for them isn't an issue. I don't subscribe to any, as I have Verizon Fios in my home. There is more to watch on there than I can ever hope to watch in a lifetime.

As an aside, this is why I know no longer watch the Emmy awards. Since almost all of the nominees are no longer on TV per se, I have little-to-no interest in who wins and who loses.

Jason Gracey said...

And now we hit the thing nobody's talking about. They keep raising the price. The first and most obvious reason for losses.
Particularly against Prime that gives you shipping, music and reading for free.

Todd Everett said...

I figure each dvd I don’t buy (having hundreds already I’ll get around to playing someday) equals one month of a streaming service

Fred Albert Thursday said...

The streaming services love your math skills.

OrangeTom said...

Not sure if this qualifies as streaming but our household's current viewing obsession is the Roku live channel. Tons of cooking programs and show specific channels like Project Runway and the Barker era Price Is Right. Had forgotten how skeevy Bob was. In just one episode, he encourages a contestant to win a hot tub so he could come over for a massage and made two women adjust their name tags to cover up their cleavage. Creepy even allowing for the time period.

The UK content is pretty cool. There is a BBC food channel which is so superior to most of the similarly-themed U.S. shows and Midsomer Murders which is a long-running running mystery program. Like a PG-13 Murder She Wrote with much better acting.

Alan Light said...

I watch YouTube far more than any other streaming service so it's well worth it to me to pay $11.99/month to have zero commercials. It's heaven. I get Amazon Prime for the shipping and rarely there's actually something there worth watching. I'd get rid of Disney+ except spouse likes Maladorian and Star Wars. I'd get rid of Paramount+ except spouse likes Picard and Star Trek. I got rid of HULU after running out of things to watch. Netflix is hanging on by a thread, mainly for the eventual return of The Crown. So many shows, nothing I want to watch.

Spike de Beauvoir said...

O.T. Randy Rainbow was on Jimmy Kimmel yesterday, his first late night TV appearance. Fun interview focused on his new book. Watched it on Jimmy Kimmel's YouTube channel. All of RR's videos are posted on his website and YouTube. There's merch too...I have a purple Randy Rainbow pen for writing lick.