These are just some musings regarding this week’s Disney announcement regarding their streaming platform. Sorry if it feels a bit random, but I just wanted to cover a few points from dialogues I have seen since the announcement.
News broke yesterday about Disney uprooting many of their titles from Netflix to start up its own streaming service and to nobody’s surprise, people have already started working out their own alternatives for dealing with this information.
The biggest point of contention from a lot of streamers regarding that the idea of Disney making their own streaming service, is that it’s yet another service that customers will have to pay for to get content that they want. As always, no one is forcing a gun to anyone’s head to get content, but I think the main point of having streaming channels is to not have so many different services to sift through just to find content that we want to watch. Also, if we really want to see a certain movie, how much are we willing to pay for it? For those even considering cutting the cord, it’s kind of hard because streaming services are so splintered right now and adding yet another paid service just doesn’t help. Couple that with the fact that most content is limited to certain services for a short time and the frustration grows. Note that Netflix adds and removes content on a monthly basis.
Within my family, we have Netflix, Hulu (both of which are the most watched), HBO, and Amazon (surprisingly both which are the least watched). Thankfully, I am not a big sports watcher so I save a lot of money because I don’t watch the MLB, NBA or NFL. I am, however, mulling over the prospect of getting NBC Gold because I do watch the EPL and there are certain parts of their package that I have found intriguing because some of it is streaming only content. So, when it comes to watching live sports, that is an issue for streamers on what packages they want to consider
Trust me, I understand that movie and TV companies need to make money from offering the convenience of being able to digitally fire up any program from anywhere there is an internet connection. This is a 1st world problem to the Nth degree. It’s up to consumers however to pick and choose how they want to establish getting their content and figure out what they really want to pay for.
The Plex Solution
One thing to think about is that with Disney’s plan to move their content from Netflix in 2019, while we lose the “nyah nyah” factor of having a service that will allow us to watch Dr. Strange wherever we are, it makes owning the blu ray a bit more viable. Why? Because if you bought the right version, you got the digital copy, or you may have bought the digital version at some point. Those who are very industrious may also have managed to create a digital copy from the disk.
One of my small accomplishments this year is that I created a media hub using Plex. I have a lot of blu-rays and DVDs in my collection; and anything that I didn’t already have digital codes for, I ripped and added to my collection. A big reason that I did this, was that I got tired of having one of my favorite movies removed from a streaming service, or jumping to another – at a frequency of almost once a month. Also, I wasn’t keen on the fact that if I wanted the convenience of watching it on demand, I would have to pay a rental fee for something I didn’t already own. Why would I do this when I could pay a few bucks more and own a physical copy? The best part of Plex is that, if I wanted to, I could share my account with a friend and we could access each others’ libraries – which is a real plus in my book.
Plex does take some time and energy to set up, especially if you have a large library of movies. But in the end it’s well worth the effort and in its own sense it becomes your personal ‘Netflix’.
What about Kodi?
What always seems to come up in conversations however is Kodi and products like Kodi. My thought is this: use it at your own risk. In its own way, it’s blatantly stealing copyrighted content but, there are some practical uses for it as well. When I was first introduced to a Kodi box, I spent hours understanding what it could and couldn’t do, and even though it was being given to me free and clear by a relative, I turned it down because I didn’t like the implication of a box that allows bootlegging of content and the bigger fear of being arrested for something so illegal in our home.
But, here is the issue, programs like Kodi offer something that the TV and movie industry has been slow to act upon for years and that is a way to have audiences watch premium content (from around the world if you know how to do it) without ever leaving their home. Consider this, a family of four or five decides that they want to go see the newest kiddie release at the movie theater. By the time they buy tickets, popcorn and snacks, nearly three to four hundred dollars has already been spent. God forbid, you have children with short attention spans and you have to leave mid way through the movie. That’s now money wasted and I have seen this happen. Many would think, why do that when if I can find a good copy on Kodi and we can watch at home? The kids get fidgety, we can turn it off and comeback to it later. Again, I am not condoning piracy, but the movie industry has moved glacially slow on finding ways to provide content to those unable or unwilling to go to the movies. Every now and again, one may hear a news blurb about movie companies experimenting with streaming options that would allow simultaneous releases in theaters and at home that could quite possibly cut down on piracy. I believe that with the right tools it can be done.
To a degree, I don’t think people want to pirate digital material, but many are tired of the splintering of so many services in order to watch what they want to watch and having to pay an extra fee on top of it. Part of the reason why people have cut the cord to terrestrial cable is because it was becoming too much for people to pay for, especially since you often had too many channels and so few actually being watched. Think I’m wrong? When you are done reading this, do this: Make a list of all the channels that you watch at least twice a week. Compare that with how many channels you actually have. You will be lucky if you have at least 30 channels listed. I barely have 20.
In a perfect world we would have one service that does everything, and in some ways we do. However, it costs so damned much to maintain it and then when it comes to competition from Hulu, Amazon and Netflix, it makes it just that much harder to figure out what to keep and what to let go. In the end, it’s how we vote with our dollars that makes the ultimate decision on what stays in business. Netflix will survive without Disney as they always have; and truth be told, if we are there just for the Marvel content, there are better ways to obtain and watch than give the Mouse a monthly fee. I wouldn’t be too surprised to hear in a few years that Disney gives up this project and farms it out elsewhere.
Also, I am hoping in the future, some forward thinking minds will come forth and finds a way to shrink some of these streaming service and make it more convenient for consumers to access it without resorting to piracy or piggybacking one’s account but…that’s just too much like common sense.
*To read about the ups and downs of cutting the cord check out Ron and Belle’s Diaries here.