I love television and I love the future but I am not loving these two huge missteps in the future of television. Both of them were just committed in the past day, and both by otherwise incredibly forward-thinking and innovative TV giants. So what did HBO and Netflix do that was so wrong? Find out after the break.
HBO has been preparing to launch their standalone streaming service for quite some time and with yesterday’s Apple event the details were confirmed. HBO Now will be released within the next month for $15 a month. But the surprise came that this service would be exclusive to Apple TV and iOS devices for at least three months. Surprising and downright shameful.
I don’t have anything against Apple TV. I own two of them. They’re nice little boxes for connecting to various content machines. But the entire purpose of HBO offering a streaming only service is so that they are no longer beholden to the distribution giants (cable companies) that have dictated HBO’s subscriber fate for decades. So HBO’s first move into the free space of streaming only is…to become beholden to another distribution giant? Granted, tying yourself to Apple devices isn’t a huge limitation given the market share numbers, but why limit yourself that way?
The only good reason that I can think of is that HBO wants to make sure their servers can handle the load before they roll the service out to everyone. But I’m skeptical. It doesn’t seem like testing on Apple users (the single largest demographic) during the busiest streaming time of the year (new Game of Thrones season) is the right testing strategy. Instead, HBO has given Apple a huge boost for a device that has largely been less and less competitive compared to other streaming devices. Combining the service with a new 30% price drop is nice, and the fact that all those iPhone and iPad users don’t need a new device is great, but it’s completely unnecessary and misses the point of having a streaming only service. HBO Now should have been open to everyone from day 1 that had $15 a month to spare and a desire to see more premium content than sites like Amazon and Netflix offer.
Speaking of Netflix, our favorite streaming subscription service had their own misstep this week when they announced they would be streaming a new show, Between, weekly instead of an entire season at once. Netflix, who pioneered the single season dump and created binge watching as we know it, is taking a giant step backwards by making this show more like network TV. One of the many reasons we love Netflix is because they weren’t beholden to the network model and I don’t like they taking any steps back towards this antiquated delivery model.
The one saving grace here is that the show will actually be airing on regular TV in Canada and then the episode will be on Netflix the next day. So the weekly streaming is more akin to the episode appearing on Netflix rather than the distributing network’s app. But I still think Netflix should stick to their model of single season dumps–wait the few weeks for this somewhat interesting show (a disease kills everyone in a town over the age of 21) to finish its season and then put it all out at once. Stand your ground, Netflix! We’ve got your back. We don’t need innovators like HBO and Netflix ceding any ground to the old masters of television.