It is hard to think that there is anybody in the world of enthusiast audio-video who doesn’t have an Amazon Prime subscription, as there are reportedly 157,000,000 of them as of 2022. If you own an audiophile rig or a home theater system, is it possible that the consumer swag that you purchase doesn’t in part (or completely) come from the almighty Amazon packing free shipping and easy delivery? It seems almost impossible, as the two-day free shipping is sometimes down to now being SAME-DAY shipping in many big American cities, and what isn’t sold on Amazon? Gold Bond powder? Ancho Chili powder? MartinLogan Speakers? Samsung 8K HDTVs? Everything is sold on Amazon these days, and pretty much everyone is a subscriber to Prime.
Beyond products, Amazon has created one hell of a collection of impossible-to-ignore content, be it music, movies, streaming television, and now sports, thanks to their we’ve-got-more-money-than-anybody-else deal with the National Football League that now has their Thursday Night Football product streaming in 1080p on Prime Video complete with a call from the legendary Al Michaels for 16 games in 2022 so says Sports Illustrated. But is anybody going to question why (Amazon) Prime Video broadcasts/streams football in 1080p when I can watch my friend Phil’s food/travel show (Somebody Feed Phil) or other enticing “food porn” such as Chef’s Table in 4K? Why isn’t my football in 4K? Why do I need a 4K (don’t get me started on 8K unless you have a enormous antenna to get Japanese broadcast 8K) if there is barely any content outside of three channels on DirecTV and UHD Blu-rays?
As someone who spends $154.00 per month on DirecTV, to not get the Pac-12 Network for four of nine yearly USC Football games, and being the only one in my house who watches the satellite service, I understand the appeal of cord-cutting. I downloaded FUBO.TV to watch the recent USC-Rice game, aka the coming-out party for our new $10,000,000-per-year coach, Lincoln Riley, and my now understandably dominant Trojans. Fubo TV allegedly has the Pac-12 Network and, with no contractual obligations, the $79 per month fee was (at the time) acceptable, if I could watch that first USC game. So, I downloaded the app on my Roku, checked into the Pac-12 network, and saw women’s volleyball instead of the scheduled Saturday USC football game. I canceled the service that day, just hours into the failed cord-cutting experiment, as I would gladly walk from DirecTV, despite having been a loyal subscriber dating back to day one in 1997. Their prices are nothing short of usury. Their hapless, outsourced, English-as-a-second-language customer service is simply unacceptable. And that is said with options to get content like the NFL (or, more to my tastes, the NHL Center Ice Package) available elsewhere in 2022. The game has changed, DirecTV hasn’t, unless you count price increases and crappy customer service as change.
So What Is Freaking People Out About Sports Via Streaming Right Now?
- Younger consumers have had it with paywall and-or subscription models. They just have. Don’t believe me? Check the Netflix Monday stock price (NFLX) crash from about $350 per share to $235 a mere two days later back in April 2022. It was the first time that they had any meaningful attrition in their subscriber base, and their stock crashed with the news. The company responded by saying that they want to cut down on the people who “share passwords” on Netflix, and that they will start considering injecting ads in to a possible “free” or “lower-cost” streaming model. Consumers started canceling Netflix en masse for the first time in early 2022. Netflix, for the first time in their content-creator ascent as a streaming platform, started pulling back on their gross content development expenditures. COVID isn’t raging like it was, and people are out doing other things with their time and money. Hotel prices are sky high, but people can’t get enough of increasingly expensive vacations, especially younger, more experience-oriented sub-40-year-old consumers. Concerts are back, and backlit by thousands of $1,300 iPhone 14s as glowing flashlights, as if somehow you can light your joint with a cellphone. Movie theaters aren’t QUITE as scary as they were, with Omicron giving COVID to even the vaccinated. Netflix is in trouble, and they know it, and they are about as good as it gets as a player in this space.
- How many different streaming services can one subscribe to before they aren’t saving money over cable anymore? While people cancel cable TV, most still get their mega-bit Internet from a cable company, so that they aren’t fully gone as clients for cable. 4G is slow and 5G is unreliable if you try to make that your major source of the Internet. The cable companies get the beating in the “cord-cutter” commercials, but they’ve still got a horse in the race, because they are the ones with the fiber running to your door. Try winning at Fortnite with DSL Internet. Enough said
- The daughter of my dear friend Lon won an Oscar this past March for her production work on the Harlem Music Festival documentary called Summer of Soul, and I haven’t seen it because I won’t pay for Hulu. We have Disney +, HBO, Showtime, $154 on DirecTV, NHL Center Ice package, Netflix, Prime Video and other subscriptions. I have drawn the line, even though I would likely LOVE that documentary. I can’t take the “death by a thousand cuts” on my credit card anymore, and I am a one-percenter who can legitimately write the expenses off. Millions of other Americans are doing the same cost-cutting that I am. Mainstream Madison Avenue commercials call out well-known streaming and subscription model services as part of their cost-cutting apps that make it seem like a positive to cut your recurring costs, just as streaming TV services suggest you can “ditch cable” (or satellite programming), and they are right. People are over having tons of subscription services. They are too tricky to keep track of and too damn expensive.
- There are no meaningful standards for streaming sports, which is the next frontier. I know of a technology insider who is trying to assemble an association to get everybody on the same page when tech-egos rage and “playing well together” isn’t in their Hollywood or Silicon Valley lexicon. The fact is that none of us consumers want a God damn AV format war ever again, and certainly not on streaming. And he knows that, but his challenge is to get Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Disney/ESPN, Paramount, and basically everybody else streaming (or interested in) content to all play the game by the same technical rules. Good, you-know-what luck with that, buddy, but thanks for trying. We are all wishing you the best of luck. If he is successful, we will have a standard for the resolution (like 4K), HDR, the audio resolution and configurations, the bandwidth needed, and so much more from the back end of steaming from an engineering perspective. Right now, we have the streaming Wild, Wild West. Going backwards to lower resolutions is pretty easy because of today’s 4K devices/dongles, as well as the capabilities of our UHD TVs, but getting the higher-resolution standard right is a whole other challenge.
- If you are a football fan, gone are the days of watching all of your games on network television. For more than a decade, you had DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket, which gives a Philadelphia Eagles fan like me access to every game on any given Sunday. But at what cost? At over $600 per season, you can kiss my cheese-steak-loving ass. No way. I will watch the national games and follow the Red Zone Channel on DirecTV, which is what true Daily Fantasy Sports maniacs like me really need. I don’t care about the game as much as the scoring. I care about NHL hockey, and will subscribe to the NHL package, but my Flyers are in the Connor Bedard (think: the next Great One or Connor McJesus) next year’s draft sweepstakes. We are going to suck this year, and badly. How many entire Flyers games will I watch for $250 in fees? Not many. Perhaps I will watch some using copious amounts of fast-forward to make my own NHL version of Red Zone. And there are alternatives, too, such as The NHL Network’s nightly recap, which is perfectly suitable for this fantasy hockey junkie. I also can stream the NHL games on my computer or Roku for less money. DirecTV has one foot on a banana peel and another one in the grave, with me two decades into our working relationship. Want yet another reason to hate private equity companies these days? How about how DirecTV keeps jacking their monthly price on me? I call every year or so and they back off (same with Sirius – I canceled my wife’s subscription to it a few months back when I realized I was paying them $49 per month), but I still have to call. I have to micro-manage them or get nickeled and dimed to death, and I am SICK OF IT. So are millions of others.
COVID created some unique situations that greatly benefited companies like Peloton, Netflix, nearly every streamer, most AV dealers, Amazon and others. COVID is still scary, but it isn’t the dominant topic now that most (smart) people have gotten vaccinated, paired with the virus becoming less deadly (albeit more contagious). The idea that you can just rake it in with a subscription service is a model that is being exploited by too many companies with their hands out. Consumers, as well as Madison Avenue, have had enough. There will be streaming content providers that survive. Amazon isn’t going anywhere, if for no other reason than their free two-day shipping, but also backed up by music, movies, and tons of (original and other) content being readily available with the free shipping value proposition. Disney is a content expert, and their $13 per-month streaming product offers a lot for the money. As long as Netflix has original 4K content that you can’t get anywhere else, over 100,000,000 will pay them their price, unless they lose their way and get too greedy.
The big losers in the sea of change that has come to streaming sports might end up being the sports leagues that need the billions of dollars in incoming revenue to grow their businesses and pay for salaries, as well as the owners. If making it hard to be a television-watching sports fan is at the core of what the leagues do to get more revenue, don’t be shocked to see their overall fan base shrink in the next 10-plus years, all because of greed when it comes to streaming.
There’s much more to come on this ever-changing hot topic from the world of streaming and cord-cutting, but if you have your own opinion on the topic, add it to the comment section below.
AllanMarcus posts on January 19, 2023 10:40
You say “I am a one-percenter who can legitimately write the expenses off ”
You have an annual salary of ~$600,000 or more and you are worried about subscription costs?
cpp posts on January 19, 2023 10:04
BMXTRIX, post: 1587698, member: 5713
it fails to realize that the next generation simply doesn’t seem to care at all.
So very true. My grown kids, 36 & 40, stream everything. Amazing what they find and how they get it. 😳
BMXTRIX posts on January 19, 2023 09:49
Since Netflix came into being, the inevitability of individual networks realizing how ‘easy’ streaming is, and how adding streaming by every single provider was going to be reality. For some reason, people believed that cable TV providers were screwing them over with 500 channels, of which you wanted to watch two or three. But, which two or three? On Monday, it’s ESPN. On Thursday, it’s someone else. For hockey, it’s someone else. For Saturday it’s someone else. For the three TV shows you enjoy, it’s (once again) someone else.
These streaming services coming from thirty different directions add up quickly. They sit on top of a cable bill. Or, if you ditch the cable bill, you are left missing shows that you used to enjoy having the freedom to watch. I will say, my kids don’t watch TV almost ever. We maintain a solid Plex library for our movie viewing and between Disney+ and Netflix, they get about all the viewing content they care about from them, with a healthy dose of YouTube thrown in for what they care about.
My oldest is 19, he will likely never own a cable box in his whole life. So, while this article certainly speaks to me, and it does address the issue of zero actual uniformity to the sports system (at this time), it fails to realize that the next generation simply doesn’t seem to care at all.
cpp posts on January 19, 2023 09:37
I don’t watch a lot of sports on TV, maybe some golf, college football, sports car racing. But I be dam I’m paying extra to watch some over paid NFL and NBA players on tv. I have NO problem paying for my Spectrum internet service, my Hulu Live which gets me 4 of my local major network channels ( they come in handy during hurricane season) and what $5 for Roku. And it still beats the regular price my Spectrum cable service was costing us. And Direct TV, it sucks in my area, been there done that ( increases in cost, poor customer service ). My advice, give up TV , go outside and play with your kids, or grandkids or take up a hobby.
MrBoat posts on January 19, 2023 09:21
They should become Sports cutters too, then. If any one industry in this country needed a boycott reset, it would have to be pro and college sports. They won’t be getting a cent out of me. I’d rather play a sport than pay someone else to. None of the people in that industry are worth what they are getting paid.