Now streaming: higher prices

With Disney releasing its own streaming service on Nov. 12, college students who can barely keep up with the cost of living are going to have to make a choice: whether to keep paying for Netflix or give it up to watch all of those sweet Marvel movies. Hulu also has to be figured into this equation somewhere.

However, the dilemma extends even further. Many fans of the Star Trek franchise were thrilled to find out about a continuation of the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series that ended in 1994. But the fans were not so thrilled when they realized this continuation, Picard, was exclusively available on the CBS All Access streaming service. This means that to watch the show they’ve been waiting 25 years for, they will either have to spend $5.99 a month or make the more strategic decision just to binge watch it during their free trial period.

The idea of having an audience looped into long-term payment plans should be attractive to most corporations. While the initial payment may not seem like much at the beginning, it continues to accumulate and more people will subscribe, so the profit is exponential.

Hence why so many companies appear to be starting their own streaming service these days. According to consumerreports.org, besides Disney, Apple also soon will launch its own TV streaming service. AT&T’s WarnerMedia is working on its own service, AT&T also is planning to rollout a streaming version of its satellite TV service. NBC Universal has plans in the works; and a team up of Discovery and BBC is soon to come to streaming platforms near you. 

This oncoming wave of streaming services is going to cause some issues because a large portion of streaming service users can’t afford to pay monthly for another one. According to a report by the Center for Technology, Media and Telecommunications, published by Deloitte Insights in 2018, more than 60 percent of Gen Z has subscribed to, or lives in a household that has subscribed to, some sort of streaming service.

With Gen Z compromising anyone between the ages of four to 24, according to Kasasa, a very large portion of that audience is pursuing some form of higher education. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2017, approximately 66 percent of college students were Gen Z (specifically within the ages of 15 to 24, those below the age of 15 were not included within the census). Considering how much money the average college student makes (which most will confirm is not a lot) and that many of them likely are using some form of streaming service, few may be willing to put any more money aside after having their potentially pre-existing subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, Spotify or many other programs and services.

Likely there will be some sort of purge of these streaming services, and not all of them will survive. Companies have attempted to produce  their own streaming services in the past and have failed. 

In 2013, Yahoo Screen was launched, and in 2016 Yahoo Screen was shut down, according to techcrunch.com. In a Variety article, Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman stated in the service’s attempted revival of the cult sitcom “Community,” and production of two other original series, the company spent $42 million. The way I see it, it is possible that this great loss in money is the reasoning behind the service’s ultimate failure. The purpose of this anecdote is that streaming services aren’t the same as cable tv: they have the ability to collapse much quicker than regular television. So, while the market will most certainly become crowded in the coming years, it’s worth noting that not all of these services will survive, leaving the market to be slightly less crowded.

That being said, cable TV still continues to fade and be replaced by an ever-expanding streaming market — MarketWatch estimates the streaming market will be worth $124.57 billion by 2025 — college students should regardless expect a growth in the number of choices they can make in regard to streaming content. Yes, some choices will inevitably drop off as services fail, so consumers do not have to be as intimidated by the extensive list of future services, but more and more will still pop up and content will split further and further.

Unfortunately, that makes the choice much more difficult, because that means it will soon become time to pick favorites. With the arrival of Disney Plus, I believe it’s a fair assumption that shows and movies made by Disney won’t be popping up on any other services and will only be hosted on Disney’s own service. Same as with the creation of CBS All Access, where all shows produced by CBS were plucked from Netflix and Hulu to return to their new home. The consequences of all of this being the college audiences are being forced to make the choice between one service or the other.