Ok, this is getting to be a bit much. In the quest to jump on the current bandwagon of streaming media, it looks like we may be about to reach a tipping point where there will be too many subscription services to go around. Sooner or later, there will be a mass exodus and only a few of these services will be left standing.
I’m writing this opinion up because today, I saw that Warner Bros has announced its plans to launch a DC Comics-branded “Direct-to-Consumer Digital Service” sometime in 2018. It will include original content, including a live-action TV series, “Titans”, based on the long-running team of younger superhero characters.
However, that enthusiasm is tempered by the fact that i will have to spend money to sign up for yet another video streaming service in order to watch it, and that's really annoying.
Normally, I would be excited at the prospect of watching a live-action Titans series, as I am a long-time fan of the various incarnations of the team. However, that enthusiasm is tempered by the fact that I will have to spend money to sign up for yet another video streaming service in order to watch it, and that’s really annoying.
For the record, I’m signed up to watch Netflix, Hulu (without commercials) and Amazon Prime Video. Those three services take up a pretty good chuck of my monthly bill paying, and yet there are other services that I would like to also sign up for as well. There’s YouTube Red, which offers both original content as well as a way to get rid of those pesky ads, but it costs $10 a month. There’s the recently launched Britbox, which a few weeks ago added nearly all of the classic Doctor Who episodes, but that would cost an additional $7 a month.
Wait, I’m not yet finished. I would also like to sign up for Boomerang, the recent streaming home for all those great Warner Bros, Hannah-Barbera and MGM cartoons, along with new content. There’s also CBS All Access, which in the US will be the only way to watch the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery TV show.
This list doesn’t even consider the “cable TV replacement” services that you can sign up for such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now, HBO Now, and the recently launched YouTube TV (which, yes, is different than YouTube Red).
You can bet that Disney is thinking seriously about offering a similar service for all of its Marvel Comics content.
Now, there’s this DC Comics service, which will likely also be the home for both classic and current TV and movie content based on the comic book publisher’s properties, in addition to original shows. You can bet that Disney is thinking seriously about offering a similar service for all of its Marvel Comics content.
When will this gold rush to launch new streaming content services end? My prediction is that it will end when many of them will discover that their business model cannot support an audience who simply cannot afford to sign up for more than a few of these choices. By 2019, I think a lot of them will be forced to shut down operations, as many of them begin to realize that competing with the already established, and much larger services like Netflix and Hulu will not be sustainable.
By the way, we know the larger services will not sit idle while many other competitors pop up. Netflix, which now has a whopping 100 million subscribers worldwide, announced plans this week to raise over $1 billion in new debt financing. Most of that money will be used to help fund even more original content that will be exclusive to Netflix. It knows from experience that adding new and original TV shows and movies makes it stand out, and it doesn’t want that huge subscriber base going to any of its rivals.
But perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe there will be a big enough audience for smaller services like Britbox or Boomerang that won’t require them to sign up millions of subscribers to sustain themselves. What do you think? Are there too many of these niche streaming services popping up, and will we see a lot of them shut down in the future? Or is there going to be room for a wide variety of subscription-based video streaming content choices? Let us know what you think in the comments!