MacDonald: Don’t buy into the newest streaming service

Alexandra MacDonald

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

As many of you have heard, you now have another streaming service to keep up with — Disney+. There’s also Apple TV+ or BET+, all of which came out within the last four months. Add that to your family excel sheet of Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and HBO Now passwords.

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These new streaming services won’t be the last to join the table, though. HBO Max, Quibi and Peacock are also planned to be released before May of 2020. We’re now in a streaming war, and while we may not want to slide the cash across the table to pay for all of them, we’re going to do it just so we can be part of the next viral conversation. 

One solution is that you could just not buy into them, as long as you want to scroll through memes you don’t understand and plug your ears when the conversation suddenly contains spoilers. It seems that keeping up with the flow of shiny new Netflix shows is almost necessary to know what everybody likes and dislikes. 

In the words of Blake Morgan, “Content today is a cultural zeitgeist that unfolds in real-time, and people want to watch shows as they happen so they can participate in the global water cooler conversation.” 

So let’s explore the option of not keeping up with it instead. After all, it’s an expensive practice for a college student, but it’s something almost more common to have than a required textbook for a class. 

We consume from these streaming services in an entirely different way than we did just 10 years ago from our cable televisions. It’s no longer a commonplace thing to sit down and watch a single episode of what the TV guide offers to you.

Now, if you really wanted to — what a lot of people choose to do — you could devour an entire season of a show in one night. 

With Disney+, one of the largest media conglomerates we’ve ever seen, offering several services like National Geographic, Disney originals and ESPN, they’re just giving another opportunity to do that. 

We started paying these services for being a database of well-known shows and movies, but now it seems all they want to do is show their own productions.”

According to Variety, 85% of Netflix’s spending goes into producing original content. If you haven’t noticed that more thumbnails on the scrolling options in Netflix’s home screen are crowned with a red capital N, then it’s time to start looking.

These services are producing more of their own content as titles are being pulled to other services. This is faintly reminiscent of the late 1940s when the Supreme Court prohibited production companies from owning the theaters they showed their movies in. We started paying these services for being a database of well-known shows and movies, but now it seems all they want to do is show their own productions. 

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It makes sense with a lot of new services premiering and withdrawing their media from others; they have to survive without them, so they produce their own content. But we didn’t ask for that exchange, especially right under our noses. Sure, the new shows are good, but they are not the exact reason we subscribed years ago.

All the shiny new subscriptions popping up are a sign that streaming quality could go down. You’re not going to see the variety of options you saw on Netflix in 2010 on any platform today, especially if space is being crowded by original content. 

Just because it’s the talk of your dorm hall or the memes look too good to overlook, don’t waste money on a new streaming service without giving it a grain of salt first. 

Alexandra MacDonald can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @alexandramacc.