Bad business decisions, lack of quality content, and high prices are driving media consumers away
Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Peacock, HBO Max, Hulu, Apple TV. The list of media consumption sites goes on and on and on.
Since the establishment of Netflix in Canada in 2010, streaming services have only seemed to flourish and multiply, revolutionizing the way we consume media. It has become possible for us to access unprecedented amounts of established and original TV shows, movies, and music from the comfort of our own homes. However, despite their initial popularity and the widespread adoption of streaming as the primary way of consuming media, the era of the streaming service is coming to a close, leaving the future of media access and consumption unknown.
This month, to the fury and indignation of its users, Netflix announced its new policy to strike back against password-sharing. This means consumers who share their accounts across a variety of locations will be forced to pay an extra $8 a month. The additional fee allows standard and premium customers to have up to two extra member accounts for people they don’t live with. This is on top of the $10 for a basic plan, $16.50 for a standard plan, or $21 for a premium plan that consumers are already paying for the platform. For those who regularly travel or own a second residence, Netflix says the primary account holder will have to connect to their wifi and sign in at their primary location at least once a month.
Once this news hit the headlines, Twitter was alight with wrath. One Twitter user, Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2), commented: “Cancel Netflix. They just lost my business. ‘Password-sharing’ is not a thing, it’s called password-using. This is regressive bullshit borne out of capitalist greed to squeeze more money out of us. People paid for a password and they use it wherever they go.”
Of course, this feels like a big middle finger to broke college students living away from home, military families, seniors, those traveling for work, and poorer families. And if a big media conglomerate like Netflix is choosing this route, it’s no far-fetched notion to believe that other streaming sites will soon follow suit.
The quality of content on streaming services is also declining. With the increasing focus on producing both original and high volumes of content, many platforms are sacrificing quality for quantity. This has led to a decrease in the overall enjoyment of the viewing experience, as there often is a lack of high production values and creative vision. The quantity-over-quality problem also leads to many good shows being terminated within a season or two, making it difficult for consumers to even want to emotionally connect with the characters that they see on screen. I’m still reeling from the abrupt cancellation of the Netflix show Anne With an E, while shows like Riverdale repeatedly get renewed season after season, even with questionable quality and writing.
Finally, consumers are developing a sense of fatigue regarding the streaming experience. With so many platforms and options available, the anticipation of the release of new content is becoming progressively rare, and the unending scroll through infinite titles is becoming exhausting. Consumers are starting to question whether the convenience of streaming is worth the price, effort, and questionable quality. Netflix isn’t the only offender in this sense. According to Variety, Disney+ suffered a loss of 2.4 million subscribers in the final three months of 2022. This a blow to the major media conglomerate was the service’s first nosedive in numbers since its launch in 2019.
While a return to traditional forms of media consumption, such as cable, doesn’t seem like a much better option, the rejection of streaming services and their practices seems to be getting louder and louder. Many are sure to return to more illegal practices of torrenting media or simply watching their favourite movies and TV shows through free streaming websites. Whether this will be a short-term trend or a more persistent shift remains to be seen, but it is clear that the success and future of streaming services is far from certain.