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Industry Takes: Content Is King, Part 2

Justin Turnblom

This is part two of “Industry Takes: Content Is King.” Read part one here.

While networks and tech companies race to grab a piece of the pie, audiences struggle to play catch up. With so many services vying for attention, and with so much original content available, viewers can find themselves suffering from analysis paralysis, which is why they might often turn to that friendly rerun of licensed content. It’s a low-risk investment for the consumers to watch an episode of Friends for the 8th time instead of a brand new show they may not have heard of. With all the options available we are entering a time of “subscription fatigue,” with too many subscriptions and payments to justify. A lot of things contribute to this feeling, and it’s not just a bloat of content to choose from, but privacy concerns and advertising that starts to look identical to the television commercials viewers hoped to avoid by cutting cords.

Consumers often make the mistake of equating streaming services with the idea of à la carte television (paying only for the channels you want) but streaming might be closer to the linear model of television than most think. While it’s attractive to viewers, we’re fast approaching the time (and in fact, it already may be here) where viewers are again spending big dollars on content they may never watch. It’s possible that the glut of programming will drive prices down, but with the spending in the billions, there’s no incentive to lower prices for the consumer.

All this streaming also creates an increased demand for high-speed internet and wireless which means that the top providers in those spaces will be able to continue to raise prices as they invest in 5G wireless and new infrastructure to support demand. All this goes to show that cutting the cord has lead content providers and cable companies back to the same formula as before we ever heard of cutting the cable.

While there seems to be no end in sight to the streaming competition, it’s likely that subscription fatigue may impact future pricing and content decisions by the major players. The launch of new services, including Apple TV Plus and Disney +, both slated for later this year, leave both providers and consumers anticipating what happens next as costs balloon and customers are spoiled with choices.