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Newsletter: Our streaming-video cup runneth over

Streaming
Disney+ is one of a number of new streaming services vying for your attention. Nearly three-quarters of consumers feel they have too many choices available.
(Disney)

I’m Business columnist David Lazarus, with a look today at streaming services.

These are exciting times to be a cord cutter. Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, launches in a couple of weeks. Apple TV+ debuted Friday. Waiting in the wings are AT&T’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock, which arrive in coming months.

But is this too much of a good thing?

A new report from the website TV Time and Beverly Hills’ United Talent Agency finds that nearly three-quarters of consumers feel they have too many choices available, and 87% are concerned it will be too expensive to indulge in all of them.

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Apple TV+ costs $5 a month. Disney+ will run $7 monthly. HBO Max will be priced at $15. Peacock’s price tag remains a work in progress. (CNBC reported Friday that Peacock may have an ad-free service with a monthly charge, and an ad-supported service that’s free to all.)

Then there’s Netflix, which goes for $11 a month; Hulu, costing $8; not to mention Amazon Prime Video, Playstation Vue, Sling TV and a host of other services jockeying for your attention.

A recent study by Deloitte found that the average American subscribes to three streaming-video services, which suggests that some hard choices could be coming for many households. Get Disney+ but lose Netflix? Check out HBO Max but drop Hulu?

The TV Time/UTA report says 42% of consumers will add one of the new streaming services to their lineup. Twenty percent will add two.

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Awareness is highest for Disney+ (88%) and Apple TV+ (62%). Just 37% of consumers said they were aware of HBO Max. NBCU’s Peacock has the most work to do — only 28% of consumers are aware it’s coming.

READ MORE: The streaming wars are coming. What to expect (and how to cope)

The competitiveness of the streaming marketplace is highlighted by the new business model being introduced: Giving away services for free.

A year of Disney+ will be offered gratis to Verizon customers. Twelve months of Apple TV+ will come with the purchase of an Apple product. AT&T reportedly is working out terms to make HBO Max available free to current HBO, AT&T and DirecTV customers.

Obviously, the goal of the giveaways is to entice you into eventual monthly payments. But the various service providers know they’re going to have to work hard to get people to give them a try, so they’re removing as many barriers as possible.

Enjoy it while it lasts. Each of these services costs millions of dollars to operate, and none of the companies involved are getting into streaming video for philanthropic purposes.

Keep this in mind as well: A streaming service (or three) requires a broadband internet connection, which will run you about $60 monthly. Add Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+ and HBO Max to that base charge, and you’re looking at almost $100 a month.

Before you know it, that fat cable package with hundreds of channels you never watched doesn’t seem as outrageous as it used to.

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Now then, here are some recent stories that caught my eye:

STORY LINES

Snowed in: For employees of the gaming company Blizzard, the annual Blizzcon event is something of a holiday — a time to look forward to and celebrate. That wasn’t necessarily the case this year, as the company has struggled with layoffs and a PR crisis after punishing an esports player for his statements in support of protesters in Hong Kong.

Git out: Tensions have risen inside the software development platform GitHub over a controversial contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Efforts to tamp down the unrest have so far fallen short.

Fear for sale: This Van Nuys store stocks all of your worst nightmares. No, it’s not a Spirit of Halloween location — it’s SOS Survival Products, a windowless cinder-block building loaded with earthquake kits, wildfire supplies and classroom lockdown kits for active shooter situations.

WHAT WE’RE READING

Up in smoke: As the debate over the safety of vaping has intensified amid a mysterious outbreak of sometimes fatal lung illnesses, Bloomberg chronicles the work of Konstantinos Farsalinos, a little-known Greek cardiologist and former smoker who has emerged as leading vaping warrior, battling it out at scientific conferences around the globe in defense of e-cigarettes.

Scam likely: A writer for Vice wound up in a bizarre situation after booking a Chicago Airbnb. She wound up uncovering what she describes as a nationwide scam on the short-term rental platform.

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Let me know what you think of the newsletter. My email is david.lazarus@latimes.com, or you can find me on Twitter @Davidlaz. Also, tell all your social media pals to join the party.

Until next time, see you in the Business section.


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