I end most nights watching a show on a subscription service, reading news from a handful of subscription publications and newsletters, and brushing my teeth with a subscription toothbrush while the music from a subscription service is playing. Finally, I will fall asleep in my apartment, my biggest subscription expense.
As someone who writes about streaming services every week, I certainly thought there were too many new subscription services last year, with Disney +, HBO Max, Peacock, Apple TV + and, yes, Quibi, all making their debuts a few months apart. The services have attempted to come up with various projects from Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell and Reese Witherspoon – seemingly the holy trinity of the powerful content algorithm. Even so, all of these additions still seemed second tier from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
Now Discovery is bundling the cable channels into a streaming service (called, naturally, Discovery +), and Roku is reviving the cursed content of Quibi in a desperate attempt to get into the game as well.
All this to say that there are now too many subscriptions. You know that. And even more subscriptions keep coming. Why?
Businesses know that it is quite difficult to convince consumers to buy individual products because a “buying decision” has to be made every time. Subscriptions, on the other hand, define it and forget it. Consuming shows and movies together into a “product bundle” further confuses the consumer as it’s difficult to determine the real value of having access to 100 shows and movies that you somehow want to watch.
Every week I recommend the best of what’s out there in a section called Streamline, but I also like to remind readers that the “best” is relative. Very few movies or shows reach a true A + level these days. Endless theories can be advanced as to why this is the case, from low budgets for everything but superheroes to blockbusters with overstretched talent as companies strive for quantity over quality. But whatever the cause, the bottom line is that most movies and shows are just plain “good”.
Given that there are very few “great” shows and movies on any of these subscription services, is it really worth continuing to subscribe? Most of the time, these services end up offering pay-per-view content anyway. “The Crown” was one of the only major shows on Netflix last year. The most recent season will likely be on DVD soon along with the other three seasons.
I imagine that soon you will have no choice but to sign up to keep pace with society, as will cell phone bills and your “free” Gmail storage. How are you going to make that new friend or work contact if you’re not hooked up to the hit show on that streaming service you haven’t yet subscribed to? Peer pressure will hit us all in the end.
We may, collectively, decline all subscriptions that do not provide A + value at a fair price. But we know that is not realistic.
The most realistic way is to create a subscription “bubble”. Thanks to COVID-19, we have become familiar with “bubbles”. A subscription bubble is basically the same concept except without the health risks.
Basically, every subscription in your life lets you share access, some even by design like HBO Max, which allows three devices to stream simultaneously. So let’s make a resolution, so to speak, to be proactive. Make a deal with a circle of friends who trust each other enough to link their credit cards to various accounts, then share those passwords for great profit.
Here are three tips to start your bubble:
1. Maximize your allowed number of devices.
Streaming services tend to frown when sharing passwords outside of your “household”, but aren’t we all family in some way? Won’t the great experience of 2021 be whether we can all come together again after so many divisions? Streaming services surely don’t want to stand in the way of that.
For what it’s worth, the Wall Street Journal recently quoted Netflix’s Chief Product Officer Greg Peters as saying the service tracks password sharing but has “no big plans to announce” anything. about repression.
Streaming services explicitly set the terms for users streaming to multiple devices at the same time. So if you want to make sure you can share your password and everyone can still watch Steve Carell say “that’s what she said” at the same time, you’ll have to keep track of how many people are watching. at a time.
Here is the number of screens you can watch simultaneously on some of the more notable services:
Netflix: One for “Basic”, two for “Standard” or four for “Premium”
2. Share your passwords securely.
Again, the legality of streaming password sharing is technically fragile. But if you spend a few hours reading the fine print of your subscription service and determining that you are eligible for sharing your password, here are some suggestions on how to do it.
Last pass: This popular password manager offers encryption and secure sharing, explicitly for “shared video streaming”. I hate to recommend this because you and your ‘family’ member will need to sign up for a different subscription to use and share passwords with LastPass. But it is a convenient way to keep track of your shared passwords in a secure way. And if that helps you share more passwords, the cost might be worth it.
Jam: This company is still in beta, so I recommend it with the caveat that you have to beware of sharing too much data with the app (as you should be with any new tech company). But as an article from TechCrunch explains, Jam was created explicitly for the purpose of streaming passwords, and that seems like a pretty nifty way to do it.
3. And cross your fingers, a company is coming to make your job easier.
Even with subscription bubbles, the sheer number of streaming services still leaves plenty of room for another company to make things less complicated.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal looked at one such company, Struum. Here’s how he describes the service:
Struum, a streaming service co-founded by former executives of Discovery Inc. and Walt Disney Co., will not be offering its own original programming when it launches this spring. Instead, it will aim to give customers pay-per-view access to all content from hundreds of niche streaming services, giving users a way to stream individual shows and movies from various platforms without have to subscribe to each plan separately.
Struum’s plan is to basically offer the a la carte model, which I totally agree with as an alternative option. A lot of these fledgling streaming services only have a thing or two that I really want to watch in a year, so if I could just get those things without a subscription, that would be ideal. I wish Struum all the best.
But to make the real wish you want in the world come true: now we just need to create an app called “Household” from “Family Plan” where we can all come together to pool our services across the country while the app detects which ones. accounts have places open anytime. I would gladly subscribe to that.
If companies want to put it all behind recurring subscriptions, when no one other than the CEOs of those companies can afford to pay for everything that matters, it’s time to share collectively.
Airbnb was just valued at $ 75 billion for essentially allowing people to share their rental subscription.
The world of streaming can surely be next.