Disney+ Muddies The Stream

Now that Disney has its own streaming platform, I wonder if we are nearing critical mass for streaming services. In 2020, we will also get HBO Max and Peacock, NBCUniversal’s upcoming platform. I assure you that more will follow.

For years I was part of the crowd screaming for al a carte television. After all, why should I be paying for 500 channels when I only watch 5? I was sure that streaming was the answer. Now I’m not so sure.

Don’t get me wrong. I still don’t want to pay for VH1 or the Hallmark Channel (the entertainment equivalent of those stores that sell Christmas snow globes in June), but I didn’t expect that everybody would want to be a content provider. After you pay for Netflix and Prime and Hulu and CBS All Access and Apple TV and ESPN+ and Britbox and Acorn and HBO and Showtime, you might as well be paying for cable.

If there is a silver lining here, it’s that you can (mostly) subscribe and unsubscribe from these services on a monthly basis. I find myself signing up for a service (we watched Doom Patrol on DC Universe, for example – I highly recommend it), then immediately switching it off when we’re done watching a program.

But it’s inconvenient. I have many friends who simply continue to pay for streaming services they don’t watch each month because they forget to login and cancel them. And you can bet that HBO has that revenue stream identified on a spreadsheet someplace.

Strangely, I now pine for true al a carte programming. I suppose DVDs provided this for a while, but who wants them cluttering up their entertainment center (and subsequent garage sale)? I want on-demand, let- me-watch-whatever-show-I-want-when-I-want programming. What can I say? I’m never quite satisfied.

I don’t think my dream will ever come true. I have a feeling that I will have to continue to juggle passwords and check credit card statements in order to maximize our TV watching, at least for the foreseeable future.

Do I need Disney+? Absolutely not. Will I be watching The Mandalorian on Disney+? Just try and stop me. But after looking at the massive list of movies and tv shows available on the service, I’m not sure what I will be watching on the service after it’s over. Are The Black Hole, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (Snake Plissken in high school!) and The Simpsons worth $7 a month to me? Maybe. Maybe not.

Or maybe somebody needs to create an app that just helps us to manage streaming services. Now that would be a subscription worth having.