Archive for April 14th, 2019

We all know the idiom “To kill the Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs”, referring to  an unprofitable action motivated by greed, but what does this have to do with TV?

Once upon am time there were just three TV channels,  BBC1, BBC2 and ITV, it was all free to air, well sort of, there has always been a TV licence fee.  Then in the 1990’s came satellite and  cable TV and a new world order of pay TV had begun.  The 21st century gave us high-speed internet, and with it streaming.  Initially I subscribed to Amazon Prime as it is now called, then came Netflix, and more recently Now TV (Sky).  My Now subscription will probably only last as long as the final season of Game of Thrones!

Game of Thrones is for the moment Sky’s big draw.  With just six episodes to go, they need to find something else epic to keep my attention.  Upcoming seasons of Westworld and Big Little Lies are probably the most interesting things to come.  Netflix has Stranger Things, Black Mirror, The OA and The Good Place.  Amazon’s standout show Into the Badlands is coming to an end, but still has American Gods (that so far has failed to live up to first season promise), Bosch (the most underated show on TV), Mr Robot, and The Grand Tour.

But soon these channels way be under threat from a new competitor; Disney +. As I wrote this there were no announcements suggesting when or if they would will launch anywhere outside the US.  However, its surly only a matter of time.  But we all knew it was only a matter of time.  Then a few hours later Disney announced that Disney + would go live in the US on 12th November 2019, and in other territories within two years.  This caused me to delay publication and slightly rewrite.  I understand Disney Plus is set to cost $6.99 per month, or $69.99 per year.  No UK prices have been mentioned but speculation suggests It’s likely it will cost £6.99 per month or £69.99 per year. Given the exchange rate, that means we will be paying around 30% more than America.

So what does this new service offer?  Drawing from the Disney back catalogue, and those of its acquisitions, but nothing R rated, so no Deadpool.  The suggestion is over 7,500 episodes and 500 films will be immediately available.  Disney has also been rapidly cutting ties with other streaming services and has several new shows planned based on their largest properties.  At least two Star Wars TV shows, The Mandalorian, and a prequel to Rogue One with Diego Luna reprising his role as Cassian Andor.  Their other major property Marvel are set to figure strongly including shows featuring: Scarlet Witch, Vision, Loki, Falcon, The  Winter Soldier, and Hawkeye.

So what will another streaming service mean for UK audiences? Let’s work on the assumption that in future, each service will have a handful of good shows and at least one great program each.  How many people will take on four subscription streaming services?  And do they need to?  There are various HDMI-port plug-in devices (some branded and associated with the above channels) that can be used via apps freely available online to stream most TV and movies via file sharing.  Despite not being exactly legal the practice is easy and therefore relatively widespread.  History is filled with reports of nations raising tax rates, resulting in tax revenue falling as more people evaded/avoided taxes.

So what will happen if the price of multiple platforms gets too high and viewers turn their back on subscription streaming in favour of file sharing?  The most notable thing could be the loss of income resulting reduced budgets for new original programming.  Lower quality, or fewer programs in turn results in less subscribers.  And thus starts a vicious circle that ultimately kills the proverbial goose.  Will we see a day when competing streaming services share content?  At the moment, we are clearly in a golden age when it comes to the availability of content, if not the price of it! 

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