Do you remember when Netflix first started their movie streaming service, back in 2007?
Physical media was still the preferred way to consume media. Besides sports content, and some TV shows that were cable-exclusive for a time, most people would run by Blockbuster and pick up a movie.
Netflix started with mail-order DVDs, then switched to streaming. The absence of ads (which were rampant on cable channels) and the convenience of not having to drive to a physical store (Blockbuster et all) made Netflix a no-brainer, especially considering the depth of their initial library.
Fast forward fifteen years, and streaming services like Netflix have become the very thing they were meant to destroy.
The depth of Netflix's content library is a shell of its former self, but that's not the only reason for its decline. It and all the other streaming services are following the same pattern:
- Drop the content people want to watch (because all that content licensing cuts into profits)
- Produce copious volumes of cheap, bottom-scraping 'original' content (with very rare gems)
- Raise rates and paywall previously-standard features like HD, 4K, and offline viewing
- Roll out ads
In the midst of all the other services raising their rates and shoveling ads in users faces, I thought Apple TV+ might be the lone holdout... but no.
If this story is true, even Apple is planning on shoving ads down users throats, and will likely upcharge for the 'ad-free experience.'
For all its warts, at least YouTube hasn't threatened ads for its Premium subscription yet.
Cable companies started churning out cheap reality TV shows in the late 00's. And streaming services are doing the same, but with even lower quality, if that's possible: Amazon Prime is churning out show after show with no real plot and zero production value. They're not alone.
A few years ago, I got serious about consolidating the media my family consumes; I decided to buy blu-ray and DVD copies of all the movies and TV shows we actually cared about, and rip them onto a NAS. I wasn't thrilled with the open source / governance structure of Plex, so I've been a using Jellyfin.
I'm glad I've gone down this path, and become more intentional about my media consumption, especially as companies are deleting already-purchased content from users' media libraries! It's sickening (and, IMHO, should be illegal) they can show a 'buy' button for a DRM'ed digital downloads that the user never actually 'owns'.
I posted the first of a two-part series on my YouTube channel showing how I rip movies into my computer, and it's embedded below:
I'll be posting the second part soon, showing how I set up Jellyfin and also explaining a bit more of the rationale behind cancelling all my streaming subscriptions.
One can only hope balance is restored again—streaming services have become the very thing they were meant to destroy, and that's terrible for consumers.