I spend a good amount of time every day simply entertaining myself, not really being productive, just sitting somewhere with my phone or computer and watching hours upon hours tick away as I consume vast amounts of media. I’m not here to discuss the merits of that, though — I’m here to complain about it. In my humble but extremely correct opinion, there are too many streaming platforms for any sane human to keep track of all the shows they want to watch simultaneously. You wanna watch Stranger Things? That’s a Netflix exclusive. WandaVision? That’s Disney+. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure? Well, unless you wanna wait 2-4 years for Netflix to acquire the rights to host a season at a time, that’s gonna be a subscription to Crunchyroll, VRV, or Funimation, and each one of those will only feature one version of the show with key differences in localization, structure, and subtitles. Quite frankly, even if you were to set aside the cost factor of each service, there are too many to keep track of for any single person. But if you DO take the cost into account? Well, then things get a lot weirder.
Suppose for a minute that you have varied tastes. Most people do, right? So you would think that the greatest appeal for a streaming service would be to host a wide variety of shows that maintain interest via their concepts, hype, and community. Instead, what you typically get is a company tying themselves to a particular gimmick and calling it a selling point. Take Netflix and Hulu, for instance. With Netflix, they host a season at a time, meaning you can’t watch episodes as they come out in realtime. Hulu solves this problem via simulcast, with current shows being updated weekly, but they make it more difficult to access with a slew of additional tiers and fees for different packages.
These two should be competing over the same market, but instead they clash in such a method that it becomes more convenient to a customer to bite the bullet and buy both, which is actually a pretty common theme. Some services, like Dropout or Disney+, feature content that is found exclusively via their services, making it a necessity for anyone that wants to watch Total Forgiveness or any MCU films. Meanwhile, services like Crunchyroll and VRV stake their claims on the international market, providing official translations for currently airing shows in other languages that you would otherwise take months to receive English subs or dubs. All of these different services that we typically think of as competitors … just aren’t, really. They seem to happily coexist with one another, as a series of expensive timesinks.
Now, let’s talk about cost. Just the services that I’ve listed so far, even though there are far more that I have yet to mention. Without adding YouTube Premium, HBO Max, or anything of the like, let’s look at how much you would have to pay to get the basic entertainment you want for a variety of shows. For a single person, basic Netflix is $8.99 a month. We’ll call it $9. Adding Hulu Basic brings you to $14 a month. Disney+ will get you to $21 a month, and Crunchyroll brings that up to $29. Adding Dropout, VRV, Funimation, and Amazon Prime brings your total cost to $64 a month, or $768 a year, not including taxes on any of those. And again, these are the base prices for all of these; No premium memberships, no family accounts, and realistically speaking, no sustainability. The services themselves may thrive, but a great expense to a consumer who really just wanted a single service with the things they wanted to watch.
There are always going to be illegal outlets through which these shows can be seen for free, of course. But by using them, the customers don’t give any support to the creative teams behind them, not to mention the risk of viruses and such from sketchy websites. I don’t have a solution to this problem, but I do want to ask all of you reading; If you were to cut out a couple of these sites from your life and spend that time on something else, do you think you would be unhappy? If not, you should consider doing so, because your wallet can’t handle everything at once.