The Balkanization of TV


I recall a lot of talk about how the power of the cable companies and their “bundles” of channels was anti-consumer. If you liked sports, you paid a bunch for a package that had the ESPN, and other sports channels, and you were pretty screwed if you didn’t care for all extra crap.

I liked watching some BBC America shows, so I had to pay a premium to have a package that included it.

Back in 2011 or so (my foggy memory may have this wrong), there was a lot of chatter about forcing the cable companies to de-bundle and sell channels a la carte. So you could pick and choose what you subscribed to.

The arguments against this were rife with how much extra this would cost. You had to buy bundles to keep prices “reasonable”.

Then Netflix streaming happened, and suddenly you could buy what you want.

At first, Netflix had a LOT of content under license, and most of what I wanted to watch was there. Then they shifted to buying/creating their own content (which I find mostly meh), but the major TV studios got together and launched Hulu, with access to most of the programming from CBS, Fox, NBC and others in competition to Netflix.

Then came the speciality streaming services, Britbox, Amazon Prime, EPIX, Vudu, and literally DOZENS more.

The situation today is that we have a cable subscription (because the better half needs her obscure sports), and subscriptions to:

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime
  • Acorn
  • Hulu

And odds are good that we will be adding to that list. Most of them are in that $6 to $10 a month. Individually, they aren’t awful, but together, this gets expensive.

Somehow, I am not sure we are in a better place than we were in the days of Cable dominating.

Well, I will admit that I prefer streaming’s convenience.

About the author


Product Manager in Tech. Guitar player. Bicycle Rider. Dog rescuer. Techie.

By gander


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October 2020

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