The Non-Ideal Streaming Platforms


Having a single streaming platform that has everything would effectively create a monopoly, so naturally there are instead about several hundred thousand (probably) streaming platforms with their own specific shows instead. That makes it difficult to find exactly where to watch something, unless you find some megaguide that compiles every single service into a listing. On top of that, it’s not even guaranteed to be there because things can just be pulled for whatever reason. Long story short, it’s way more complicated to watch something than it should be.

First of all, the fact that every company and its parent companies and their child companies are making up their own streaming service means that it’s a volatile market and something such as a streaming crash could be a feasible outcome, like the cryptocurrency mania and the “dot com bubble” and the video game crash and so on. The main reason for this is your average citizen will have a limited income before having to sell their house, unless they’re well-practiced in taking out repeated mortgages and conning bankruptcy courts or something outlandish like that. Therefore, they’ll have to pick and choose their services, and possibly be subscribed to at most a few at a time. I consider it a terrible idea to be subscribed to more than one if you’re not watching all of them regularly. This could result in a mass exodus of content availability once these companies decide to drop the act and yet somehow refuse to put it on their former competitors’ services. Maybe the cost of running such a thing is just really low to these megacorps so they don’t give a crap, but not being a megacorp, I don’t really know of this being the case.

On top of that, so many random exclusive movies and shows. They might eventually be released in some purchasable format, possibly even physical for those who still do that such as myself, but they generally stick around the original platform. If you’re really only watching for the exclusives, it’s a good idea to only subscribe to one at a time, clear out that list, and move on to the next. A checklist is a good idea for this method, but it bears in mind to put expiration dates on the shows noted to be leaving services to prioritize.

Shows and movies come and go from these platforms, usually with some advance notice, but it’s easy to lose track of that. It’s really up to whatever reason they feel like. It ranges from contract expiration to celebrities being erased from Hollywood and possibly the timeline to whatever is determined as the general audience taste at the moment to them just feeling like doing whatever the hell they want. Therefore, if you want to watch something, you not only need to look at any public calendar of planned removal dates, but somehow predict the future anyway, or just go watch it immediately. After all, streaming platforms are built on impulse and therefore their plans can be that way too.

With all these cons, one might wonder if there’s any pros to a streaming service. Really, it’s a good idea, but the current execution is terrible. I would be fine with paying a low flat price to access a service for a month, exhaust the list of things I want to watch for a month, and move on to the next, ideally without incurring a bunch of cancellation fees. It’s good to read the fine print, even when it comes to the “free trials” often offered that tend to automatically charge the card even before they expire. This plan really only works if I feel like I’m going to get my money’s worth from that one service, so I better be ready to watch a hell of a lot of stuff, cleared schedule and everything.

The issue comes with someone who only wants to watch one or two things as a fleeting curiosity. Why pay up for a whole service when you just want to see if a single show is worth getting invested in? There should be more free trials, as in not for the service, but for shows. Movies I guess have trailers, as inaccurate as those can be. Something similar to this happens when a show that was on broadcast or cable TV gets pulled from that rotation to go to a streaming service while that network invents a new garbage reality contest to take its place. Anyone invested in that series might be willing to follow it to the service, but how it gets spaced out then may make it seem less appealing. Mainly if the case is similar to how it was on the prior channel, releasing only occasionally instead of all at once. The sane case here would be to just check it out once it’s all uploaded and pay for at most a month, unless someone’s surrounded by “friends” who don’t know how to shut up about spoilers.

There really is no legal ideal streaming platform that has absolutely everything, people would just have to settle for most things in the general case. Sure, things can be found online with little effort usually, but those are risky, mainly in the case that there can be a ton of viruses and coin miners and whatever else on those sites. Adblock might help that, but if it’s a “hot” show that’s being monitored by some copyright cops or possibly the ISP itself, someone may be risking themselves if the producing company feels particularly litigious. I feel it’s easier and likely more legal to just get a personal copy, or borrow someone’s, even one from a library. Physical or digital, just being able to watch something at any time is convenient, and more so when you don’t have to pay an additional fee to watch it right then. Of course there’s rentals in both formats, but paying a couple bucks to see a movie is still cheaper than a theater showing, yet somehow digital rentals are generally more expensive than the Redbox or similar system that overtook rental stores. I feel even the digital rental price is more than what rental stores charged, and they tended to let you keep it for a few days and watch it multiple times over that time instead of just once within some time period.

Also, with regards to how things get pulled from streaming services, that can also happen to digital stores, and even physical ones after some time. However, there’s always secondhand. If a movie’s particularly rare, though, it can be pretty expensive and aimed at the collectors at those prices. As well, with how often directors and production companies like to mess with movies after release, it can be hard to find the exact version someone might want to watch for whatever reason. Apparently it can even happen while a movie is in the theater, so that makes having a physical copy of any prior version there practically impossible, at least legally. Of course, for those truly desperate to watch specific versions of movies and shows, they can just search it up themselves and accept the risks if they find it online. There are the rare cases where shows have been posted online for free viewing with permission of the owning company, just with ad breaks, a probably accepted compromise for anyone who grew up with regular TV. However, a streaming service that’s paid and still has ad breaks just seems wrong, even though cable TV is pretty much that with less control.