The Next Stage of Streaming - Less is More
Content is being removed from streaming services. And it's only just begun.
The Addition is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
One of the things we’ve become accustomed to in the streaming era is having whatever show we want available with a quick click of a button. Yes, the market has become increasingly fractured, but you can basically watch anything that you fancy if you’re willing to subscribe to a service. Sadly, those days may be coming to an end.
In the early days of streaming, there was plenty of, let’s be honest, rubbish content available as streamers tried to fill their catalogues with whatever they could get their hands on. Now, however, shows of all kinds are being pulled as parent companies try to cut costs. Perhaps the most high profile of these is “Westworld”, which the new look Warner Bros. Discovery recently removed from HBO Max. Not surprisingly, an outcry from fans followed. Deadline has a good breakdown of what is going on and why even Disney might make moves in a similar direction as it looks to refocus under Bob Iger 2.0.
It is US service HBO Max that seems to be the biggest offender in the space so far, with the move starting in August 2022. It relates, at least in part, to the pending merger between HBO Max and Discovery+. You might hope that a merger would leave us with one streaming service to rule them all, but apparently not. Here’s a statement from HBO Max explaining it, given to Variety.
As we work toward bringing our content catalogs together under one platform, we will be making changes to the content offering available on both HBO Max and discovery+. That will include the removal of some content from both platforms.
Churn on Netflix happens too, for all manner of reasons. Indeed, as I was writing this newsletter I got an email telling me about some upcoming departures. (Sidenote: If anyone can tell me where I can watch the latter seasons of “The Bold Type” in the UK I’d be hugely grateful!)
This content exodus may please the beancounters, but, as the article referenced above points out, it does not please the talent. I suspect it will soon start frustrating consumers too. We have simply become too used to easily finding content available on a popular, easily accessible service.
Maybe Apple TV and Amazon, platforms on which you can buy content, will be the beneficiaries, as people purchase programming that is not available with their existing subscriptions. I suspect viewers’ patience, and their wallets, will only stretch so far.
Sometimes shows that have been taken off streaming services are put on other types of TV platforms, but, to my mind, it’s all just another indication of how we are going back to the future - providers deciding what we can watch and when we can watch it. Sure, it was not exactly a perfect utopia before, ultimately streamers had to decide what catalogue they offered, but there is definitely a sense of compression happening. It’s not just about how much each service can offer now in a bid to attract subscribers, that content has to have tangible (financial) value to the provider otherwise it is going elsewhere or disappearing altogether.
Week after week we see evidence that we are at a new stage in the evolution of streaming. Viewers might not like this one quite so much.
[Ad - The Addition is part of various affiliate programs and may earn commission on any purchases made via these links and adverts.]
From The Podcast
Streaming Set For Big Shake up - Tom Merritt returns to the show to discuss why 2024 is going to be a huge year for streaming.
Listen wherever you get your podcasts.
From The Blog
Watch Rihanna’s Full Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Half Time Show - It wasn’t just Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts and the Kelce brothers who put in groundbreaking performances at last week’s Super Bowl. Rihanna packed all the hits and breathtaking staging into 14 minutes.
I also host a weekly politics podcast with Emma Burnell called “House of Comments”. If that’s your kind of thing, check it out on Audioboom or wherever you listen to podcasts.