Why are Streamers Limiting How We Consume Content?

Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press

Showtime releases many of its shows on its platform once per week.  Amazon releases its originals once per week, while it licensed television content is released all at once.  Netflix almost exclusively releases all of its shows at one time.  Hulu has a similar release policy.  Disney+ will likely follow Netflix in terms of its release policy.  Apple+ will implement a combination of Netflix and Amazon release policies, releasing some shows all at once, others in threes (a policy exclusive to Apple), and others on a weekly basis

In terms of cost, Netflix is $13+ per month.  Amazon is $10 a month for a Prime Membership that includes streaming content on its platform and access to other platforms.  Disney+ is $7.  Apple+ is $5, but free for one-year with the purchase of any new apple device.  Showtime can be bundled with Spotify Premium and Hulu for $4.99 a month if you are a student. Hulu and Netflix, through Sprint and T-Mobile, also offer free access to their platforms and with talks of those two mobile carriers merging, maybe customers with get both, or none.  Also, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max will be $15 a month.

Content providers (i.e., streaming platforms, studio distributors, and creatives (producers and directors)) all have some say in how and when content is released.  Much of their thinking, and interests, are based on personal goals, market demands, and what movie theaters (for film) and awards organizations (again, for film) want and can bear.  The ever-protected, but most important rating (for streamers: viewership) is, however, well-known, but rarely released to the public. 

Netflix’s Fort Knox hold on its viewership data, like any other streamer, influences, if not determines many of its decisions on how and when content is released.  One concern with this approach is that it takes away from the golden age of distribution where consumers can consume at any place and anytime.  For the streamers, however, they want more consistent eyeballs on their content. 

Binging content is not a bad thing for streamers (though it may be for humans), but once a show is done, viewers move on to something else.  Netflix and the other streamers are taking a page out of the sports book, specifically the NFL, who at least once a week, dominates television viewership.  By holding back release windows for streamed content, the streamers get to control, predict, and bring in more viewers for higher viewership numbers.

In the age of the republicanization (e.g., think republic as in representative form of access) to producing and distributing content through multiple platforms, the idea is to get more eyeballs on content on more than one device at one time.  Therefore, it makes sense that streamers are moving to put a strain on release dates.  That logical sense, however, does not necessarily make it the right decision. 

Today, more than ever, streamers have competition and that is a great thing.  Competition means businesses have to compete for our attention and business.  With new entrants like Apple+, Disney+, HBOMax and other sports platforms, companies, like many politicians during a general election, will have to move towards the center of the content streaming policy isle by continuing to give consumers what they want that will be balanced with what viewership numbers the streamers want. 

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