Subscription wars: The chaos that comes with Disney+

Stuart Lombard

As empires once carved up the world, so too now are companies carving up the pool of streaming content. Media giants are throwing around billions of dollars to claim swaths of territory and new conglomerates are declaring their independence, bringing hundreds of hours of beloved television and film with them. It must end.
Companies are trying to answer the question: how much are consumers willing to pay for access to their favorite content?
I am confused and frustrated by the level of uncertainty there is in the streaming marketplace. Netflix used to be enough to satisfy anyone’s taste in film and television. They pioneered the streaming revolution, offering us a compelling alternative to overly expensive cable TV packages.
But now, with the sheer amount of streaming services, each trying to carve out a niche in the incredibly lucrative market, I have to ask whether people will pay as much or more for anytime access to their favorite content than they would be paying for cable.
Disney+ launched this week with new original content like “The Mandalorian” and a live-action “Lady and the Tramp,” as well as old animated favorites from Disney and Pixar. On Nov. 1, Apple TV+ launched with a collection of high-budget original content.
And they are not entering quietly, but are waging a costly battle spending billions of dollars to build an exclusive library of content.
And that’s not all. Joining the fray in April 2020 are TimeWarner’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock.
HBO secured the rights to “Big Bang Theory,” to be available exclusively on HBO Max. Netflix snatched up the rights to “Seinfeld” for $500 million but will lose “Friends” in 2020 and “The Office” in 2021. If these are your favorite shows, you will soon face the question of whether to add HBO Max to gain access to “Friends” and Peacock to access “The Office.”
Netflix is being pillaged further by Disney, who will be removing Disney-owned content.
Clearly, Netflix will no longer be the one-stop shop that it has been. A new problem then emerges: how to manage all the apps?
As of now, the only service that tries to offer some coherence between services is Apple. They introduced Apple TV Channels earlier this year, which offers users a way to consolidate their subscriptions into one place. But then they complicate matters by not allowing you to access existing subscriptions. You would have to cancel HBO, then re-subscribe from within the Apple TV app.
Streaming used to be good, but now it has become just as much of a mess as cable TV. I have accepted that I will not be able to watch everything that I would like to. And I think that this is for the best. As consumers, we must learn to be more picky over what we watch. And it could not hurt us to disconnect from screens for a few hours.
Whichever service you choose, you will have access to more content than you could ever watch. As far as streaming services go, less is more.