Streaming services are sort of midway between cable TV and 100% streaming. 100% streaming would be getting every channel you want on its own. We initially subscribed to YouTubeTV, a streaming service from YouTube/Google/Alphabet as the name implies. They had the channels we wanted to see and offered an “infinite DVR” - there are only time limits (in months) to watch something after you record it; other services limit you to a certain amount of memory. In the bottom line view, though, we still don't watch 75 to 85% of the channels that are offered, just as with cable we didn't watch 95% of what was offered. It's just that we pay $55/month now versus $130 back when we paid for cable TV. (I took out the price we pay now for our internet connection from the old cable bills)
FEE - the Foundation for Economic Education - has posted some updated statistics on all this that are quite interesting for you numbers geeks in the audience.
One of those “everybody knows” statistics is that Cable TV is dying.
- In 2000, 68.5 million Americans had cable subscriptions. Netflix was a 3 year old startup.
- By 2017, 48.6 million Americans had cable subscriptions, and 50 million Americans had Netflix.
- For completeness, by 2011, 21.5 million Americans had Netflix subscriptions.
- In 2018, Americans streamed eight billion hours of content per month. That’s equivalent to nearly a million years (912,635 to be precise).
- Surveys show that 148 million Americans say they watch Netflix “at least once per month.” That’s followed by Amazon Prime (88.7 million).
- Apple, which doesn’t even have a streaming service yet, reportedly has already spent $6 billion on original content.
- Disney+ and Netflix offer streaming services for roughly 50 cents per day ($16 per month).
- HBO Max will charge even less for its streaming service—$15 per month—reports say.
- When HBO was launched in the 1970s, its service typically cost $6 a month ($37 in 2018 dollars).
- In 1995, cable cost $22 a month ($38 in 2018 dollars), on average. By 2015, cable providers were charging $69.03, on average. That's almost 3x the official inflation rate. On average, cable prices went up 5.8% yearly for the past 20 years. Inflation clocked in at 2.2% per year, on average. Which means cable has gone up at about half the actual inflation rate.
- Surveys show that nearly 60 percent of Americans are cord-cutters (people who once had cable but chose to cancel).
This article is all aimed at the entertainment market - the segments called direct to Cable or DVD and the first run of movies on streaming after a successful run in the theaters - but there's more to it. The news services are running to streaming - Fox News started a few months ago, CBS and ABC News are there, and more. I know Fox is a monthly bill, while the others appear to follow their broadcast model of having commercials support the service. CBS has a streaming version of their network TV, where they have some shows that only appear online, Star Trek Discovery and soon, the new Star Trek Picard. That's a monthly bill. How many monthly bills do you want? In this last case, it's almost one bill per series I'd watch.
The point is that this rush for everyone to put their entertainment on their own streaming service brings to mind the old anti-cable TV ads from the late 60s, when the movie theaters were afraid of services like HBO, and were saying the cable company wants to put a coin deposit box on your TV. Streaming services like Hulu or Sling or YouTubeTV follow the old cable model of putting a lot of channels in a package but having one or two in any group that you'd pay for. How many news channels can there be when CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Cheddar, Young Turks and so many more are all saying virtually the same things? If you pay for one TDS news channel, are you going to pay for all the others? I'd be perfectly happy with a smaller selection of channels at $2 to $5 each.
HBO or Disney+? ... Daenerys from Game of Thrones or the Mandalorian. Choose one?