With cutting cable still gaining popularity, an abundance of networks are now putting out their own solutions leaving consumers stuck to decide what service(s) to use and figuring out what differentiates between them.
According to a projection from the research firm eMarketer, by the end of 2018, a total of 33 million U.S. adults will have cut the cord on cable or satellite service to date — up 32.8 percent from 24.5 million in 2017.
Netflix remains the top subscribing streaming service, with over 130 million subscribers internationally. Depending on the expectations viewers have of their services, there is not just one service that exceptionally stands out in regards to content. Depending on the consumer, a particular streaming service might be more appealing to others because of factors such as the original content that these companies are putting out such as the popular series Stranger Things on Netflix and Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu.
These two companies now have their own production entities and are able to deliver that content exclusively to their subscribers. This is one potential reason that there has been a rise in consumers subscribing to more than one service, because of the versatility and expanded library of titles available overall.
There are two distinct types of streaming services, those that replace live television and those that are not equipped with a “Live TV” component and are used for on demand streaming. About 61% of those 18 to 29 say the primary way they watch television now is with streaming services on the internet, according to the Pew Research Center. The pros and cons of each service heavily depend on what each consumer is looking to get out of the product. The most popular Live TV streaming services are currently DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, Playstation Vue, Sling TV and YouTube TV, according to cnet.com. The idea of a physical cable box for a television is soon to be outdated technology with this new ability to have very similar services for fractions of the cost.
Being an owner of a Roku Smart TV, there have been multiple occasions where I have scrolled through the app store and thought to myself, “well just how many streaming apps can there be?”. Personally, I have Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and HBO Now. Now obviously, I can only use one of these services at a time. A few other apps that the device offers is YouTube, Redbox Beta, and Roku TV, which offers Roku customers free shows and movies for being a customer.
I participated in the Spotify Premium for Students discount where with the purchase of Premium at a discounted price of $5 a month, Hulu and Showtime are included at no additional cost. Comparatively, a regular Spotify Premium account costs $9.99 a month, while the Hulu Limited Commercials plan costs $7.99 a month and an online Showtime subscription costs $10.99 a month.
This deal was a no-brainer for me and many other students nationwide. According to an interview CNBC had with Hulu CEO, Randy Freer, “thanks to a joint ownership model, in which Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast own equal stakes in Hulu, the media company has streaming rights to ABC, Fox and NBC. Those broadcasters sell content to Hulu, growing its audience and granting access to lots of quality programming for less.”
“Never before have students had this level of streaming entertainment options, at this unprecedented value, all in one package,” Alex Norstrom, Spotify’s chief premium officer, said in a statement.
Cable television companies have seen customers leaving at an unprecedented rate in recent months. Sports channels were a large piece of cable that many users were still holding on to until recently now that both broadcast networks and ESPN are now available through services including Sling TV and Hulu. And a standalone ESPN streaming service, ESPN+, launched recently at just $4.99 a month.
Amazon Prime Video is a rising contenter for the top spot of user-friendly services, offering upgrades that include HBO, Starz, and more, making it a potentially one-stop shop for all streaming needs. Even though the concept of streaming television is still a relatively new concept, it has provided insight into the future of at-home and on-the-go entertainment.
Given there are many companies participating in streaming, there seems to be only a few that actual see significant audience stability. According to a 2016 Strategy Analytics study, Netflix owns over half the market (53 percent) with Amazon Prime Video and Hulu coming in second and third respectively (25 percent, 13 percent).
Netflix, Amazon and Hulu might own the majority of the market now, but with so many companies investing in streaming it may prove difficult for them to stay on top. Not necessarily because the content is bad but because the amount of content that is out there.
Each platform is producing cinema level content at a break-neck pace. Hoever, Only time will tell what streaming services will stick around and which fall into the oversaturated sea of forgotten apps and idea.