Let's Fix This Country

Media Mayhem: Competition Leaves Consumers with a Scattered Mess

This page doesn't pay much attention to entertainment media, but the ability to get away from Trump World for a little respite is under threat. The "content providers" have embarked on their own trade war, fragmenting the video world into ever smaller pieces of declining interest. It's such a frenzy that we now read they are creating action thrillers for smartphones to be serialized in 10-minute bites.

First, there was Blockbuster, displaced by Netflix, which served up movies on DVDs sent through the mail.

That didn't disturb the cable/dish world all that much. But then Netflix switched to streaming, leaving their founding DVD customers behind to pick among the scraps, and Netflix's success spawned entry by Hulu, then Amazon, then CBS, all now spending literally billions to produce their own exclusive and mostly forgettable content, greenlighting just about every pitch that comes along to fill their insatiable maws. And by about this time next year, AT&T's WarnerMedia Division, Comcast's NBC Universal, Walt Disney, and Apple have plans to join the fray. That makes eight so far, plus whatever dish/cable we need to hang onto for basic content or delivery.

Fundamental principles have come unlearned.

1. Consumes like economy. All of these services, presumably, either do or intend to charge for subscriptions — monthly hits to our credit cards. They must assume that we don't have the money to buy into all of them, so they must think we're going to choose theirs. Take Hulu for instance. We might wish only to see "Handmaid's Tale", but Hulu wants us to subscribe, pay a monthly charge only to find a channel stuffed with TV sitcom re-runs, unheard-of movies, and add-ons for extra fees. And to see other material we're expected to sign up with Netflix, Amazon Prime — all of them for their "thousands of movies and shows" just to get at the few that we want. Pretty soon it's just as expensive as cable or satellite whose cord we've been cutting.

2. Consumers like convenience. It was once true, certainly in Europe, that to get the ingredients to make dinner entailed making half a dozen stops: the butcher, the baker for bread and dessert, the green grocer, the dry goods grocer, the wine merchant, the shop with milk, butter and cheese. Then someone thought "this is ridiculous" and the supermarket was born. That's what people like, the ability to find everything in one place. In their furious competitive scramble, these so-called services are blowing up centralized distribution, scattering the remnants like pot shards. Now we will find ourselves having to keep track of where to find programs and movies we've read about, having to enter IDs and passwords every time we switch from one to the other. Who needs this mishegas?

Our prediction: watch it all come tumbling down in a couple of years time. Hopefully it will coalesce into a last-one-standing superprovider where we can find everything again.

1 Comment for “Media Mayhem: Competition Leaves Consumers with a Scattered Mess”

  1. james wolffe

    And that lone standing survivor can give us the same crappy service cablevision(by whatever name) has been giving for thirty plus years.


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