Tuesday, July 30, 2019

How much is too much with streaming?

CBS All Access entices the Trekkies with
new original series like Picard.
Sandi and I were talking about the new Star Trek series, Picard. If you haven’t seen the new trailer, straight outta Comic-Con, behold. She had thought it was a movie, and I certainly couldn’t blame her; it looks like one in comparison to TNG or any of the older series, except Discovery, of course. (I really, really, REALLY hope this won’t be about the Borg again. Seven of Nine’s presence makes me think it might be—and there was that great big cube right there in the trailer. And that has to be B-4 from the movie Nemesis, with Data’s memories, perhaps?)

When I told her it was part of CBS’ streaming channel, All Access, she complained about how much she was already paying for the cable channels she has (extra for TCM) and how she doesn’t wanna have to pay even more. It’s an all-too-familiar argument, one I had made two years ago against Discovery, and it hasn’t changed now—and they have the nerve to call it “all access,” when it’s anything but.



Netflix. Amazon Prime. Hulu. Apple. Soon, Disney Plus, and who knows what after that? Is there an upper limit on how much the average consumer is expected to pay for all this? It’s not even like the streamers are that diversified in terms of content, at least not yet. Disney Plus will have a huge library of content, including material acquired from Fox. And as for original programming, let’s see: new Marvel series, new Star Wars series—I wonder if they’ll be able to attract an audience?

No one can seriously be expected to pay for so many streaming services at once, but when you get home from a hard day’s work, you wanna unwind, naturally, and the easiest way to do it is with the TV. (You don’t even have to wait that long, if you’ve got your cell or an iPad, I know, but bear with me.) The popular shows are the geek culture shows, and even if you don’t consider yourself a geek, chances are you’ve seen at least one geek show or movie, alone or with friends, and you’ve seen them talk about it on social media (because you ARE on social media, right?) and you’re curious about Stranger Things or Daredevil or what have you and you don’t wanna be left out of the conversation... Do you see where I’m going with this?

The Mandalorian is one of a variety of new
series that will debut on Disney+.
I hate that I can’t watch Discovery and probably won’t get to watch Picard either. I hate that there are all these new Trek stories that I can’t enjoy—and while I did say we don’t need to rely on the corporate parent companies, it’s hard to adhere to that belief when Fandom Assembled is screaming over the return of Data.

But getting back to the streamers: is it possible that at some point they will diversify, making it easier to pick and choose? I suppose so. NBC is not Animal Planet, which is not ESPN, which is not BET—but as more networks create original programming to supplement their otherwise diverse content, the differences count for less. Remember when AMC was a classic film network? Or when MTV played music videos?

And who can keep up with all of these shows anyway? There’s simply too much out there. Not everything is Game of Thrones, but there are more slicker, well-produced shows than before, many of which build upon familiar, pre-established properties. Now that I have Netflix, I feel myself getting caught up in it, after years of ignoring TV completely, and it’s tempting to add more shows to the ones I watch now, but from the consumer’s perspective, there’s gotta be a limit.

Streaming is probably here to stay, but I can only hope the free market will decide the fate of the individual services, and that survival of the fittest will winnow out the weak from the strong, just like how UPN, The WB Network and even DuMont (going way back) went the way of the dinosaurs. It’s inevitable, isn’t it?

2 comments:

  1. I just wait till the shows are on DVD and watch them then. I don't feel like I need to be watching them in "real time" when my friends are. I've gone through my entire life without seeing "Picard", so six months or so later isn't going to make much of a difference. I just need to avoid spoilers in the meantime. Watching shows like this saves me a lot of streaming money and, if I really love the show ("Twin Peaks the Return", for example) I'm going to want to have a permanent physical copy anyway.

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  2. You may have a point—although avoiding spoilers isn’t as easy as it seems...

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