from the cheaper,-more-varied-options-really-suck dept
Gizmodo recently ran one such article where the author was shocked and outraged after he discovered that subscribing to four different streaming services cost him a measly forty-seven bucks, proof positive in the author's estimation that cord cutting "isn't a bargain any more." And while Reddit users were quick to point out how cord cutting saves them significant cash every month, this narrative never seems to die. Case in point is Vox, which appears to have piggybacked on the Gizmodo report with a similar story proclaiming that "cord cutting is bound to fail":
"Recently, Gizmodo ran the numbers and concluded that if you subscribed to every streaming service collecting most of the TV shows and movies you’d likely want to see (and thus excluding niche services like horror-centric Shudder or anime-centric Crunchyroll or etc., etc., etc.), your monthly bill would be more expensive than an average cable bill on its cheapest tier."Again though, Gizmodo didn't "run any numbers." The author just subscribed to HBO Now, CBS All Access, Netflix and Hulu and thought (incorrectly, if you ask actual cord cutters) that the $47 total was incredibly expensive. Analysts oddly forget that the same companies setting licensing rates for traditional cable also set the licensing rates for streaming alternatives. As such, pricing for both is probably going to be higher than anybody would like, and that's why Hulu, Amazon and Netflix are feverishly developing original content.
But the fact remains that streaming alternatives offer something cable refuses to: more flexibility at a lower price point. Vox's central thesis is that because cable providers have all the leverage in negotiations with broadcasters, they can strike much better deals than streaming video providers, offering their own dirt-cheap bundles of streaming packages:
"So there’s going to be a lot of demand for some form of bundling — of an option to subscribe to a bunch of streaming services, both mainstream and niche together — in packages that will be slightly more affordable than ordering each service a la carte. And when it comes to bundling, the cable companies know it better than anybody else."But because the cable industry can do this doesn't mean they will do this. Yes, your cable provider could offer cheap bundles of streaming services. But this would cannibalize their existing legacy TV cash cow subscriber base, and the sector has made it abundantly clear it simply refuses to seriously compete on price. Instead, industry executives would rather pretend that cord cutting isn't a real problem, and defections will cease once Millennials have more babies. As a result the closest we've seen to price competition are skinny bundles that give the illusion of value, but saddle users with hidden fees.
If there's one thing the Vox report gets right, it's that consumers are growing increasingly frustrated with and confused by exclusive, temporary licensing and vanishing streaming catalogs. But that brings us to something all of these analysts and reports willfully, hysterically ignore: piracy. You'll note that none of the "cord cutting is dying" articles ever acknowledge that piracy exists as an option for the consumer frustrated by high prices, poor service or confusing exclusivity arrangements. It's as if these authors are not formally allowed to acknowledge piracy's existence by their editors because it's naughty.
But as this website has noted repeatedly, piracy is a competitor. Because you don't like that fact doesn't make it less true. The reality is that if streaming begins to fail the consumer as a cheaper, more flexible alternative to cable, the last place many of these customers will be headed is back to cable. Instead, countless millions will simply hide behind a VPN and head back to piracy, a shame given the progress we've collectively made in dragging many of these broadcasters, kicking and screaming, into the modern age.