Choices, Choices: The Overwhelming Glut Of Online Streaming Services

Remember the good old days when choosing what to watch on TV was a far simpler decision to make? Since there were only a handful of noteworthy TV shows, it was much easier to stick to one and watch it until the end. Nowadays, you’re lucky if you can finish one.

It’s good to have choices, but when there are far too many to choose from, you wind up deciding it’s better you don’t choose anything at all. This is the current conundrum facing most consumers with the amount of streaming services and various content now available to everyone who has a reliable Internet connection.

Once a solely DVD mailbox rental service, Netflix became the pioneer of digital content when it decided to set up a streaming service for TV shows and films. Gone are those days of waiting for a disc to arrive in your mail. You just log into your account, pick a movie or show you want to watch from Netflix’s wide entertainment catalog, and presto—your selection is already playing right before your very eyes. Netflix’s ambitions began to extend beyond offering licensed content. They later started producing exclusive and original programs, like House of Cards and Stranger Things, to entice new and current subscribers to stick to their service.

Because of the massive success digital streaming has been for Netflix, other services began to crop up to get in on the piece of the action—Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go/Now. Then you have the newest or soon-to-be-coming streaming platforms, like Disney+, Apple TV+, and HBO Max. Even networks who don’t want to be left out on the potential profit having your own streaming service could provide, CBS has CBS Access and NBC is developing its own online streaming service called Peacock. When you survey the growing amount of services, it’s beginning to look much more ridiculous and overwhelming. It’s really an indecisive person’s worst nightmare.

At the moment I currently pay for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and now Disney+. Though it’s only four services I’m subscribed to, the amount of content offered on these sites is still daunting. This doesn’t even include the other streaming platforms I don’t pay for that are free to watch with ads, like Crunchyroll and the CW. That’s more content than you’ll ever watch in your entire natural born life!

No one really has the time to watch everything on these services, even if you have one full day off to sit at home and watch shows or movies all day long. It’s just not possible. My main issue with having these options at my disposal is figuring out what to watch on any given day. I have more shows and films saved to my watch later list than having ones I finished. For example, there are a few shows on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime that are still in the process of being watched. I’ve only seen a few episodes of Aggretsuko, I’m still at the beginning of Season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale, and I have yet to finish Season 5 of Downton Abbey.

There are a number of reasons why some of these shows are in various states of watch. Sometimes, I don’t have time during the weekends to continue where I left off or I typically have to be in the mood to watch certain shows, which has been the case for Handmaid’s Tale. Ordinarily, I try to pick one show and stick to that one until I’ve finished it all the way through. Now, I’m easily distracted by new shows and sometimes abandon the one I’m watching for the latest one that came out.

I think our digital, technological world has made us increasingly prone to being less focused or committed to things like we used to. When we know there are still so many options we can choose from, why settle for what’s right in front of us? This attitude or behavior that has been instilled within us is very troublesome and it’s changing the way we are interacting with our entertainment media. What ever happened to simply spending the time to appreciate the one good show we found?

Maybe the best response is to cancel all your streaming subscriptions and swear off TV all together. But when you want a place to escape and be entertained for an hour or two, it’s difficult to entirely pull the plug. And if one were to pull the plug, which service can you do without? Therein lies another choice that has to be made.

Which streaming services do you currently subscribe to? How do you feel about the plethora of options we have? Do you think it’s getting out of hand and would prefer we didn’t have so many companies looking to develop their own streaming platform in an attempt to get you to spend more money on their content?

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