'Subscription Fatigue' Looms As Comcast Reveals Yet Another New Streaming TV Platform
from the lousy-with-choice dept
So we’ve noted many times that the rise of streaming video competitors is indisputably a good thing. Numerous new streaming alternatives have driven competition to an antiquated cable TV sector that has long been plagued by apathy, high rates, and comically bad customer service. That’s long overdue and a positive thing overall, as streaming customer satisfaction scores suggest. In response, traditional cable TV providers have had to up their game, exemplified by this week’s launch of yet another streaming service by Comcast, dubbed “Peacock.”
The company unveiled the new streaming service this week, stating it should go live next April. And while no pricing details have been announced for non-cable subscribers, Peacock will be free to users that already subscribe to a traditional cable TV bundle from Comcast. According to Comcast, the new service and naming convention reflects a “proud and bold” persona for the nation’s least liked company:
“For us, it?s the perfect nod to the legacy without being too on the nose,? said Bonnie Hammer, chairwoman of the upcoming streaming service. ?From my point of view, it screams that we are proud and we are bold.”
Like the numerous other streaming services from AT&T, Disney, Apple, and others, Peacock is in a race to lock down as many exclusives to its platform as is humanly possible, which will include hits such as “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” as well as development of (yet another) “Battlestar Galactica” reboot by “Mr. Robot” creator Sam Esmail. Netflix had to spend $425 million to lock down Seinfeld as part of a five-year exclusivity deal. AT&T’s HBO Max has meanwhile secured all exclusive streaming rights to “Doctor Who” and “Friends.” The streaming exclusivity wars have begun in earnest.
But there’s one thing that remains overlooked as every company and its uncle rushes to deliver its own direct-to-consumer streaming service: subscription fatigue. Deloitte analysts have been using the term to describe the inevitable fatigue that will set in as users try to figure out which of their favorite shows are exclusive to which platform, which could come to annoy users despite the increase in new streaming options:
“But the plethora of options has a downside: Nearly half (47%) of U.S. consumers say they?re frustrated by the growing number of subscriptions and services required to watch what they want, according to the 13th edition of Deloitte?s annual Digital Media Trends survey. An even bigger pet peeve: 57% said they?re frustrated when content vanishes because rights to their favorite TV shows or movies have expired.
?Consumers want choice ? but only up to a point,? said Kevin Westcott, Deloitte vice chairman and U.S. telecom and media and entertainment leader, who oversees the study. ?We may be entering a time of ?subscription fatigue.'”
Granted one plus side with streaming is users can sign up for a service for a few months, binge watch to their delight, then cancel. But managing multiple subscriptions (and logins) while tracking the home of your favorite current, ongoing shows could prove annoying, and even moreso if the industry shifts (as many expect) to a harsher crackdown on those who share streaming passwords — something Netflix and HBO used to see as little more than free advertising, but has increasingly been confused with “piracy” by grumbly legacy executives at the likes of Charter Communications.
The end result? A slow but steady shift back to piracy among users that find subscribing to a half dozen streaming services too expensive, or hunting and pecking for their favorite paywalled content annoying. It’s an issue companies aren’t all that worried about as they rush to the competitive trough, but it’s likely to be a looming problem as the number of services and exclusivity silos grow.