With the advent of streaming services it has completely changed the way in which we take in our entertainment. When Netflix launched a streaming service that was separate from it’s traditional DVD mail service, it took off in a way I don’t think anybody really expected it to. Now, with the volume of streaming services out there, the concept of cord cutting is more popular than ever, and cable subscriptions are on the decline, while streaming TV subscriptions, which provide a slightly cheaper, and more flexible alternative to traditional cable and satellite service, are increasing. These alternatives allow you to utilize your service from virtually anywhere in the world, such as Sling TV, Fubo, YouTube TV, Playstation VUE, certain networks are allowing you to stream their content live, or certain programs for free, such as Fox, and ABC, and others are requiring a paid subscription, like CBS All Access. There is also more than just Netflix when it comes to the standard streaming market now, with Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video being major players in this market as well.
With this, however, we have shed the monthly fee that is a cable box, or satellite receiver because we have all of the Applications, but what is the best way for us to access these applications? We started this transition to streaming media with our laptops, and an HDMI cable, and then moving in to our tablets, and phones being supported for these applications. Then along came streaming media sticks, and boxes that were dedicated for TV, and games. The perfect example of early adopters to streaming content on something other than a computer, tablet, or phone are game consoles. The PS3, and Xbox 360 were the first to incorporate this, and then along came the Wii offering Netflix support after. After these, however, we get into something that, while we’ve had them for a while now, are still not necessarily the most perfect device. Smart TV’s. A TV that has, “all” of your streaming applications built into it, and there is no need for a separate box to do anything, because it’s all built in to the one device… or is it?
The concept is great, and it’s what everybody wants when it comes to any category of technology, one device that works for everything, in the age of us carrying around more computing power on our wrist than the spaceshuttle had, why are our TV’s still not able to have absolutely everything we want all in one? That’s actually a relatively simple answer, to me at least. Personalization. Sure, you’ll say licensing of the software and such, but in reality, we could make use of what we have, and make it do just about everything we want, but we all have the OS layout we like. Some people are die hard Roku fans, others Playstation or Fire TV fans, I like the Tivo layout, but find the PS3 was my favorite as a whole. We all have a device that we like to customize, or that works best for us and our needs. Me, I’m kind of in a bind. I got my first Apple device in 2004 (an iPod Mini – oh yeah!), and from day one started importing my CD’s, and building my music collection in iTunes to be able to sync to my iPod, before that I used WinAmp, so a lot of stuff was already ripped, and just had to be imported to iTunes. In 2007 when I got my first apple device that played video’s (iPod Classic – after 11 years, I just laid it to rest this past year), and from there built up my iTunes movie collection – after who knows how many dollars worth of movie & TV season purchases. While the Movies Anywhere application has fixed that for the most part, allowing me to watch my purchased movies on virtually any device, from virtually any application I like that syncs with it, TV show purchases and music streaming become the issue.
The fix for me would be to get an Apple TV, but, do I need another set top box? I already mix and match between the PS4 and the Tivo, both of which are loaded with applications – the issue with Tivo is that they do not update the applications as often as they should… hence using the PS4 in conjunction with it. And then there’s the fact that my TV is also a smart TV… and I have a Chromecast attached as well for the odd app that we want to use with the TV! What good would one more device be?
This is the predicament of the modern era of streaming. Each device has something different and unique that you may want, something that is useful to a point where you can be persuaded to purchase it for the occasional use. The same goes for all of the streaming services. It’s getting to a point where you want the streaming services for the exclusives in a lot of cases, and by the time you’re done with Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, your Amazon Channels or individual network subscriptions so you can watch CBS All Access, HBO Go, or what have you, you’re back to being about even with your cable bill… or even paying slightly more. Oh! And you still need to rely on cable from the aspect of them being your ISP. Is this era of entertainment really better than the last? At least when we had cable, there was one device that would play all of your channels.
How much more fragmented will this streaming entertainment world get?