Like a rash that just won’t respond to medication internet piracy is one of those things that will never go away completely. But for a time it seemed like the movie and music industry’s had found a pretty good way to reduce it everyone and their dog had a low-cost convenient subscription to Netflix for TV and movies and to Spotify for music and times were good but recently piracy is subtly back on the rise.
I mean it’s not like the streaming services themselves are becoming less popular in fact last year Netflix usage over took cable TV subscriptions as it was estimated that 76% of US consumers were subscribed to Netflix compared to only 67% on cable but at the same time traffic on Bit Torrent has surged and while there are uses for torrenting other than piracy let’s be honest it’s being one of the go-to services for people sharing content illegally for quite some time.
So what’s behind this well funnily enough the streaming services are currently in the process of making the exact same mistakes that the cable industry did in years past ever since valve launched Steam for games it’s been widely accepted that the surest way to curb piracy is to make paying for content affordable and more convenient than stealing but here’s the rub. When you pay for a streaming subscription you’re not just paying for the small handful of shows or movies that you actually want to watch you’re paying for that services entire catalog and part of the reason that people have been abandoning cable is that they don’t want to pay $100 a month for 200channels that they don’t care about.
Now your average streaming service is only 10 or 15 bucks a month and with the variety that they’ve traditionally provided people found them much more palatable and their popularity exploded. The issue now is that both affordability and variety are under fire the reason is that content per users don’t want to share their revenue with a third party platform and while Netflix is known for producing its own catalogue of original shows most of its offerings are still from other rights holders that have licensed Netflix to carry their shows and movies with Netflix getting a cut of the profit so recently many license holders have said to themselves.
Why are we giving Netflix a cut when we could just launch our own streaming service and keep all the revenue for ourselves and you know what yeah I can see why that might be enticing after all if the customer paid 10 or 15 bucks to watch movies once why wouldn’t they do it again and then again and then again. Well therein lies the issue this approach has changed the streaming marketplace to one dominated by Netflix and to a lesser extent Hulu to one where tons of services are popping up with rather popular exclusives only available on one first party platform.
Wanna watch Game of Thrones well it’s an extra 15 bucks a month for HBO now even if Game of Thrones is literally the only thing on the platform you care about it fan of the Grand Tour better get that Amazon Prime video Star Wars fan don’t miss Disney’s upcoming Disney Plus so then with all of these options you can see how easily 10 or 15 dollars a month can turn into 60 or 75 or even more depending on how many of these fragmented streaming services that you need to subscribe to in order to see all your favorites and then at that point we can see why people might begin to explore other options the cost is now getting close to a cable subscription and a freaking TiVo box but here is it and as for the convenience well that’s where we can see how going back to piracy could certainly seem appealing even if you can’t afford it.
Keeping up with all those different services can be a massive pain compared to having one site that’s your one-stop shop with larger media companies seeming to be mostly on the cut out the middleman train it looks like the only thing that might reverse this trend is them taking an actual hit to their bottom line. So I’m gonna be interest to see how the next couple of years playout until then it might be worth putting an extra few dollars a month in the cookie jar if you really can’t get enough of stranger things.