Do We Have Too Many Streaming Services?

With the news of HBO Max getting a European release, and potentially a UK release in the works, it’s yet another fantastic amount of content for us all. (However, with HBO content currently in a NowTV/Sky agreement we may have to wait a while..)

Disney Plus is investing million into its content and has already displayed its power with Wandavision, The Mandalorian getting rave reviews, they are also adding with Star. This will add thousands and thousands of hours of content from their catalogues from ABC, 20TH Century Fox, 20th Century Fox Studios and Searchlight.

Titles will include box sets that currently make Netflix and NowTV huge attractions, Desperate Housewives, Prisonbreak, Family Guy, Buffy The Vampire Slayer to mention a few.

Streaming service Disney Plus has hit 95 million subscribers

Disney Plus has been released in the UK today

Credit: Disney

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Disney Plus now stands tall with over 95 million subscribers in the recent quarterly results and the service only launched in November 2019, and has other markets still to go.

Netflix recently hit the 200 million subscriber mark worldwide and Disney is hot on its tail, but Netflix is also continuing to heavily invest in original content to stay ahead. But whilst competition is great for us as an audience, and the ability to pick and choose services each month if we so wish are we not inevitably heading for a crunch?

In the UK alone we have over 10 major streaming services. Those which don’t charge a monthly fee we can enjoy all of the main television broadcasters:

  • BBC iPlayer
  • ITV Hub
  • All 4
  • My5

 Arguably the first streaming platforms to successfully launch to a major level began here in the UK with Channel 4’’s 4OD (now All 4) launched in November 2006. This was soon followed by the BBC iPlayer launching in July 2007.

Meanwhile in America along came Netflix.  The former Blockbuster rival had already been selling viewable movies online from early 2006/2007 in America. By 2010 was available in Canada & Latin America, and by 2012 became the first paid-for on-demand service streaming platform available in the UK.

When Netflix went, Amazon followed


Credit: Amazon

Read more: Netflix Has Officially Passed 200 Million Subscribers

Where Netflix went, Amazon followed picking up rival Lovefilm in a buyout and soon Amazon Prime became the major rival. With Prime, its main benefit and subscriber base came from the addition of the service being included within its Prime delivery membership.

Netflix meanwhile relied on its acclaimed, and in 2020 still unmatched, user experience and ease of use design. Along with the birth of a selection of original critically acclaimed content such as House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black.

Now we can enjoy any of the following major services for a small fee in the UK alone:

  • Netflix
  • BritBox
  • Apple TV Plus
  • Disney Plus
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • NowTV (From Sky)

The list above isn’t exhaustive and also doesn’t include specific streaming platforms such as the BFI Player, Arrow Video, UKPlay, Discovery+, Hazyu, Quibi, Mubi, Curzon Home Cinema, Marquee TV, National Theatre, Shudder, Funimation, Crunchyroll, Kanopy.

But wait, we have more on the way, including The Criterion Channel…

£66 a month for streaming services?


Credit: HBO

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If you are in the UK and signed up to the 6 major providers, alongside a television licence to be able to enjoy all of the free streaming platforms; The bill would amount to around £66 per month.

That’s around £792 a year, and with the competition, the prices are probably only going to increase across the next decade. This includes the Disney Plus increase this month from £5.99 to £7.99 and includes both the Entertainment (£7.99) and Cinema pass (£11.99) for NowTV.

If you wished to add Sky Sports to NowTV it would cost an extra £9.99. Having a look over at a current package including movies, kids’ channels and SkyTV would cost you around £43 a month (without set up costs included).

This would be around £516 but with a lot more drawbacks to some services, notably heavy advertising and some content will not be on-demand.

The Death of Cable?

Netflix 60 movies quarantine

Credit: Pexels

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Streaming services have been called the ‘death of cable’ in America. With access to content much cheaper than a cable subscription, and usually without adverts analysts have sometimes predicted that Cable may end with younger generations.

Arguably this perspective would also apply to SKYTV in Europe, which recently has a result of streaming content competition, have invested tens of millions in original films and series.

Is it overwhelming to decide?

Apple TV plus streaming

Credit: Apple

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The sheer number of platforms available can be overwhelming, just as overwhelming as sitting down and actually deciding what to watch… Whilst Sky certainly makes a huge chunk of income from advert revenue, the streaming platforms slightly differ.

Amazon generates revenue from being a part of a package, ensuring customers use their shopping services instead of elsewhere, and also offer paid-for content.

Apple TV Plus not anywhere near as successful (yet) unlike its more seasoned competitors has the advantage of the Apple branding and can be an incentive to purchase a new product. However, somewhere like Netflix which is arguably hugely successful due to its lack of advertising, will the appeal of advertising revenue eventually take hold?

With over 200 million subscribers that’s a massive user-base for commercial gain and a source of revenue, but would such a move not turn away millions of customers?

What do you think Small Screen readers? Do we have too many platforms to choose from? Are they too expensive or cheap enough? Or is the competition only good for us as an audience, and that ability to end subscriptions on a monthly basis a huge appeal? Let us know in the comments below.


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