Why Many of The New Streaming TV Services Will Fail

Couple watching TV

Couple watching TV

According to Motherboard, a consumer survey has confirmed what we already suspect. Too many costly streaming options will lead to piracy.  And that means less than projected revenue and growth.

Another new study indicates that piracy could increase dramatically if streaming content is fragmented across too many streaming services at too high a price point.

Broadband Genie, a UK broadband comparison website, conducted a survey of 1,500 consumers and found that 18 percent of respondents admitted to “often” or “occasionally” accessing content via illegal streams or file sharing services like BitTorrent.

But wait. It gets worse.

The survey found that number would jump to 37 percent if users are inundated with too many content exclusives spread across too many services. 67 percent of those surveyed felt they already pay too much for television content, and 48 percent said that price remained the biggest problem with having multiple streaming services.

The surfeit of streaming services will work itself out in the market place. Currently, each new streaming service exists because the company fooled itself into believing that its content, pricing and app delivery would be irresistible. Subscriber projections will be, by corporate political necessity, rosy.

But that’s not going to happen. Few of those services will succeed brilliantly. Some will suffer from some kind of technical or customer service mismanagement—or greed. Or disappointing earnings. They will fold or merge.

Pick your TV subscriptions wisely.

The Week’s News Debris

• Did you know there are multiple ways to start up a Mac in Recovery mode? The Eclectic Light Company describes the three different methods. Which Recovery Mode? I never knew about this. Did you?

• The Eclectic Light Company also has a great article on XProtect, what it does and recent changes. This is a must read. “How has XProtect changed?

According to Apple’s latest macOS security overview:
“macOS includes built-in technology for the signature-based detection of malware. Apple monitors for new malware infections and strains, and updates XProtect signatures automatically — independent from system updates — to help defend Mac systems from malware infections. XProtect automatically detects and blocks the installation of known malware.”

There’s much more.

• Will the 2020 iPhone be named the iPhone 11s? Financial analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says no. It’ll be the iPhone 12. TechRadar has the story. This makes good sense. The specter of ‘iPhone 11s Pro Max’ alphabet soup is just one character too much to say out loud.

• Remember way back in 2012? “Google Caught Bypassing Mobile Safari Privacy.” Earlier, the case had been thrown out of court. But now, it has new life in the U.K. Bloomberg reports: “Google Faces iPhone Privacy Lawsuit After Court Reinstates Case.

The judge said that by tracking and collecting data from users’ browsing history, Google took something of value from them.


• Apple learns from Microsoft and Microsoft learns from Apple. That’s the tl;dr version. But there’s oh, so much more in this fascinating editorial at AppleInsider by Mike Wuerthele. “Microsoft has learned some lessons from Apple, and that benefits us all.

• For some Apple Watch owners, watchOS 6 is killing the battery life. Cult of Mac has some user reports. “Apple Watch owners plagued by bad battery life under watchOS 6.” In one case the reported drain was 10-12 percent/hour.

A fix could be right around the corner. Apple rolled out a new watchOS 6.1 beta on September 23, and many testers report seeing better battery life after updating from watchOS 6.0.1.

It’ll be about time.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article(s) of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

7 thoughts on “Why Many of The New Streaming TV Services Will Fail

  • I’ve written before about the blood and treasure that will be sunk into diversified streaming services. It will take a long time, but eventually the “Netflix model” will triumph, long after Netflix itself will have lost all its non-original content. Its current dive into Original content is Netflix’s attempt to survive the diversification. It won’t make as much profit (I’m not even sure it makes a profit now, income yes, profit?), and its share price will plummet, but it might survive to come back stronger than ever when the distributors realise it’s not actually a profitable to run their own streaming service/ kill themselves and their competitors off in the bloodbath that will ensue.

    Netflix knows the business (even if it doesn’t have a viable business model) and while the distributors will probably try to buy each other out to create the new, but profitable “Netflix” successor, the bloodbath might just leave Netflix all-in-one ready to become what it is only on the way to being right now.

  • John:

    Darwin would approve of your selections this week.

    There is little doubt that all of the streaming services being born now will not simply fail, die or be eaten, anymore than we should doubt that all of the wild salmon or lobster hatched this year will survive to spawning adulthood. Not only will most new services perish, we need them to for many of the same reasons that we need most newborns of any species to die.

    First, their numbers are simply non-sustainable. The ecosystem would collapse for lack of balance. In the entertainment ecosystem, simply put, there are not enough subscribers to feed all of the hungry industry mouths being born. One can modestly expand the user base of TV watchers, but not exponentially overnight.

    Second, predators will pick off the weaker ones until only the fittest escape. In this case, predation may be, as with lobsters and amphibians, cannibalism. Some of these weaker streamers may have sufficient nutritional content to be an inviting meal to a hungry, expanding rival, or it could be a multidisciplinary tech giant that gobbles it up, although we’re likely to refer to these as ‘acquisitions’, as this sounds more civilised (dare I say, palatable) than predation.

    Third, those fittest survivors, fewer though they be, will not simply fit into a sustainable ecosystem, they will offer the better content that serves the interests of that system, in this case, content that consumers actually are watching and that they demand. A caveat here is that this may not be content that every viewer likes, but it is content being selected by viewer eyeballs, clicks and purchases – ie those that are actively a part of the living, growing and dynamic system, and not those that are passively benefiting from the choices and support of others. Insofar as the ecosystem is concerned, those that are not engaged with this natural selection process are inert (ie dead) and therefore their preferences do not matter. These inert observers simply do not exist.

    This can be have consequences, particularly when one introduces a creature into the system for which there are no natural predators. It can entirely reshape that system as it continues to grow beyond its initial limits and reshape that system to one that sustains it, thereby selecting for an entirely new system and against the one into which was introduced. If one of these players introduces such a novel piece of content or model, it could reshape the industry. The Game of Thrones model comes to mind that reshaped television content, production, costing, storytelling, sponsorship and expectations in a way that none of its rivals could match. Approval or its absence by those who did not engage in this pay for play model for HBO or their rivals did not matter, and were selected out of this system, like it or not. Make no mistake, this is now a system that will be shaped by active engagement in a natural selection exercise, for better or worse. Apple will be no exception. As with all uncertainty, opportunity and peril are balanced on a knife edge.

    As for the MS story, AppleInsider is correct; MS taking control of the entire stack is not simply the correct move for MS, it benefits the entire industry by making it more directly competitive. MS will now be able to give Apple a better run for their money, comparing (pardon) apples to apples in the hardware and software sides. I have argued before (I believe most recently on one of Andrew Orr’s posts) that Apple would not be parting with the TouchBar technology, as this points the way to the future with dynamic, configurable keyboard technology on a screen, employing haptic feedback to help guide the touch experience. This appears to be precisely what AppleInsider foreshadows in this piece. For Apple to get there anytime soon with a best in class user experience, they will need real competition from a master, in this case MS, which has a massive war chest, and a battle-tested history, with which to engage in this fight for the fittest. Dedicated users on either side of this fence will not likely switch because of any modest advantage of one solution over the other, although a decisive advantage will see some haemorrhage; rather users on both sides will benefit with the best offerings that each contender can bring to market.

    Regarding the AW battery life, nice play on words. I did observe a one-time drop in battery life after upgrading to watchOS 6, but only on one occasion, and since the more recent update to 6.01, have not seen any noticeable loss of life. Perhaps this is something that one simply needs to ‘watch’ for.


    1. In evolution this is a well documented pattern. A new environment will open up, or a new structure will appear, and there is an explosive radiation of new species. Then competition winnows them down to the small number that can form a stable ecosystem. Examples include the Cambrian radiation, the Triassic radiation following the Permian Catastrophe, and the Palaeocene radiation after the K/T extinction. I suspect you are correct in that streaming services will follow the same pattern.

  • I don’t understand why everyone thinks they should be a streaming service. Produce content then find a distributor.
    Kellogg’s doesn’t open it’s own grocery store.

  • For whatever reason I recently found myself on the Wikipedia article about the Dumont Television Network that ran from the late ’40s into the ’50s.
    What I found interesting was why it folded. They had some bad luck, and made some mistakes. But the big reason they could not compete with NBC and CBS was that the latter had talent and shows from their radio days. Talent and series could just be ported directly across, sometimes the shows even had the same actors. This reduced their cost dramatically. Dumont had none of that. They had to create their stuff from whole cloth and that was a huge added expense.

    So why is this relevant? I suspect a lot of the streaming services that survive the big shake out will be the ones that have a huge back catalogue of content to tap into. Disney, Netflix, etc., those are the ones that will do well. We currently subscribe to CBS All Access and can watch new shows and classic series. We are currently binge watching NCIS and the original Twilight Zone. We are going to look at Hulu in November for the same reason. There is a lot of content to chose from.

    The ones that have to create everything from scratch, like Apple, will have a much harder time making a profit, and I suspect keeping subscribers. Simply put why spend $X/month for a service that has a couple dozen shows when the other one has hundreds to choose from? Especially if the cost per month is the same.

    1. Simply put why spend $X/month for a service that has a couple dozen shows when the other one has hundreds to choose from? Especially if the cost per month is the same.

      I don’t care about reality show such as Undercover Cake Makeover and Shotgun Marriage Court, silly sit-coms, or shopping channels. But yeah, can a service make enough money from subscribers who only want quality offerings?

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