This is part 42 in our never-ending coverage of the techpocalypse. Note to self: Kill everyone on staff for overusing the apocalypse thing. -Ed
Once upon I time I said, “Golly gee whiz wilikers, I wish I could see anything I wanted at the time of my choosing. You know, that on demand shit.”
That’s when Lt. Uhura showed up, called me “Captain Adventure,” stunned me with her phaser and uproariously laughed, “Be careful what you wish for.”
One thing they never told you. After one is stunned by a phaser blast one will tend to void their bowels. Finally something worthy of pay-per-view.
Video. Content. Streaming. “On demand.”
Yes, the technological future of entertainment is here and it is far more glorious than any of us ever imagined.
Netflix, hereafter referred to as the “old way” was a scheme where lots of contents from sources far and wide were gathered into one place for a single monthly-fee. Old school!
The new way is for every single source to take their toys and go home. Then come out with their own channel. Revenue streams are good? Then I want my own! I want it now.
In a boardroom far, far away…
The nerd stood in front of board and pointed his laserpointer at the powerpoint presentation.
“As you can see, we currently earn less than $1 per month per subscriber with our delivery partner. If we keep it in house, however, we can realize profits of 500 percent by offering our contents on our own. I’m not bullshitting you here. These numbers have tested out.”
“And,” the nerd added ominously, “we can layer advertising on top of the mix, like sprinkles on top.”
One of the board members could no longer be contained. “I move we fuck Netflix!” he screamed. It was quickly seconded. There was no discussion.
The vote was unanimous.
It used to be you could get 100-channel packages from the cable company for $100 a month. (I’m generalizing here.) That could be roughly approximated as $1 per month per channel.
Now channels, like the greedy bastards at CBS, can pander their wares for $6 a month to their direct subscribers. That’s six times the revenue. And that doesn’t include the bonus money they earn by still forcing you to sit through commercials. The last 10 years of streaming video have been about training you to accept this moment.
So what does this new à la carte approach to streaming content mean to you? Instead of 100 channels for $100 you could be getting fewer than 20. Ain’t progress great?
Things will continue to move in this direction as more and more channels refuse to play well with others.
Rather than learning one interface and menu system you can spend all of your free time learning all 20. The new HBO service, for example, took absolutely none of the lessons learned from Netflix and pumped out the shittiest menu ever. It doesn’t even keep track of the last episode you watched. It’s just some shit they threw together because they didn’t want to wait to start taking payments from subscribers.
Don’t like it? Don’t watch. (You still have that right.) But they know in the vast majority of cases you’ll eagerly bend over for it. It’s money in the bank.
But wait, there’s more.
You also get bonus technological benefits like these:
- The spinning “loading” animation repeatedly during the show. (About once per minute.) That’s only 120 during a typical Hollywood movie.
- Fun-filled moments where nothing works and the service tells you, “An error has occurred.” Enjoy the most helpless feeling in the world. You’re paying for it.
- Suspending your suspension of disbelief as playback stops suddenly and for no explicable reason you’re staring at the main menu. And the damn thing won’t return to the moment where playback was stopped. Have fun fiddling with the worst fast-forward system ever invented.
- Last, but not least, is the out-of-sync audio track. Lips move and then three seconds later you hear the words. It’s strangely unnerving. I theorize this is actually deliberate and designed to entice us into grabbing our weapons cache and climbing the nearest clock tower.
What services are you already paying for? Which ones are you excited to pay for next? Our scientists did the math and by the year 2018 the average consumer will be paying more for entertainment than housing. Economists suggest devoting no more than 45% of your overall budget to subscription channels.