Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Subscription Fatigue: How I Survive (and Thrive) in the Streaming Jungle

I've been a streamer for over 13 years. However, I realize not everyone shares my concerns, hopes, and desires about streaming. For me, the most pressing issues are the rising cost of subscriptions and the increasing fragmentation of content.

As more streaming services enter the market, each with exclusive content, consumers like me find it increasingly expensive to access all the shows and movies we want. This has led to "subscription fatigue," where viewers feel overwhelmed by the number of services and their associated costs. New streamers, in particular, can be very overwhelmed.

Besides the financial burden, content fragmentation across platforms makes it difficult to find and watch what we want. Constantly switching between apps and services is inconvenient and frustrating.

Other concerns include:

  • Quality and variety of content: Viewers want engaging and diverse content that caters to their interests.
  • User experience: A seamless interface and reliable streaming quality are crucial for consumer satisfaction.
  • Data privacy and security: Consumers are increasingly concerned about how streaming services use their data and the risk of privacy breaches.

Overall, the rising cost of subscriptions and content fragmentation are the most pressing concerns for streaming consumers, as they directly impact our ability to access and enjoy content. This has led some to explore alternatives like free ad-supported television (FAST) services or even returning to traditional cable TV.

My Streaming Life consists mainly of FAST content. When I pay for content, it's on a rotating basis. This way, I still get what I want without breaking the bank. Though it requires some effort, I find this approach worthwhile to get the content I want without overspending.

Monday, July 22, 2024

Netflix is king

Netflix remains the top-of-mind streaming service for many, and rightfully so. Recent data from the Wall Street Journal confirms its continued growth, with subscriber additions exceeding those from the previous year's second quarter:

The streaming company added 8.05 million subscribers in the second quarter, compared with 5.89 million net new subscribers during the same period a year earlier. It expects new customer additions to be lower in the current quarter than the same period last year, when it began limiting password sharing in earnest.

Revenue rose nearly 17% year over year to $9.56 billion in the second quarter, beating the company’s projections. Netflix raised its revenue growth forecast for 2024 to 14% to 15%, up from 13% to 15%.

The strong performance is a sign that Netflix’s efforts to change its plan pricing and lineup, limit password sharing and expand the advertising tier of its service are bearing fruit.

My Streaming Life will include Netflix (ad supported, of course) from time to time. I don't watch it a lot, but it does have a place on my streaming device.

Sunday, July 21, 2024

Stop using Windows? Not so fast...

I'm a privacy advocate, and strongly dislike the way that Windows 11 violates fundamental privacy. However, not everyone feels that way.

I don't like using Windows, and prefer macOS, Linux, or ChromeOS over Windows, partially for privacy, but mostly for security. Britec has a video that says Windows isn't really a problem. While I disagree, his argument is worth considering:

[YouTube]

My Streaming Life follows, as much as possible, the good security and privacy practices I follow everywhere. I understand what Britec is saying, but I think it's possible to reduce privacy concerns as much as possible, and dropping Windows is a way to go.

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Netflix drops $12/month plan

Netflix is ending its cheapest ad-free plan, prompting existing subscribers to choose between a new, cheaper ad-supported option or a pricier ad-free plan.

The streaming giant is removing the $11.99 basic ad-free plan in the U.S. and France, after previously doing so in the U.K. and Canada. This leaves subscribers with the following choices:

  • Basic with ads: $7/month
  • Standard (no ads): $16/month
  • Premium (no ads): $23/month

The move is expected to drive more subscribers to the ad-supported plan, which has already seen a significant increase in popularity. Netflix aims to enhance the value of this tier by offering improved features such as higher definition video, multiple streams, and downloads.

This change marks another step in Netflix's evolving subscription model, as it seeks to balance revenue growth with subscriber retention in an increasingly competitive streaming landscape. While the removal of the basic ad-free plan might displease some users, it could also open up opportunities for cost-conscious viewers and boost ad revenue for the company.

Some industry experts have raised concerns about the implications of this shift for consumer choice and data privacy. As more users opt for ad-supported plans, Netflix's reliance on targeted advertising could increase, potentially leading to more intrusive data collection practices. Additionally, the disappearance of the budget-friendly ad-free option might exclude some viewers from enjoying Netflix without commercials.

Despite potential drawbacks, Netflix remains optimistic about the future of its ad-supported tier, citing its strong performance and positive subscriber feedback. The company will closely monitor user reactions and adjust its strategy accordingly to ensure continued growth and success.

My Streaming Life rotates paid services. I don't use Netflix all the time, but it is in rotation. The $7/month plan is my choice. This change in plans isn't really impacting me, but if it impacts you, that's not a good thing.

Friday, July 19, 2024

Live breaking news

In 2011, I cut the cord and bid farewell to cable TV. While I enjoyed the freedom of streaming with my Roku, cable news was the one thing I missed. Back then, there were no streaming options like Sling TV, so I resorted to a brief, not-so-legal workaround before realizing I didn't truly need cable news in my life.

Fast forward to 2024, and the landscape has drastically changed. The recent shooting of a presidential candidate rekindled my desire to follow breaking news, and I discovered that watching it without cable is now easier than ever.

Numerous free and paid streaming services offer live news channels, and most major news organizations provide free live streams on their apps and websites.

Here are some options to consider:

Free:

  • Pluto TV, Tubi, Xumo: These services offer a variety of live news channels from major networks.
  • News Organization Apps/Websites: Most major news organizations (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc.) have their own free live streams.
  • Google TV or Roku TV: These platforms aggregate news channels within their interfaces for convenient viewing.

Paid (often with free trials):

  • Sling TV: Provides a selection of news channels with the option to add more.
  • Hulu + Live TV: Includes popular news channels alongside its on-demand content.
  • YouTube TV: Offers a comprehensive live TV package with a wide array of news channels.

Additional Options:

  • Local News Apps: Many local stations have their own apps for live streaming.
  • Social Media: Platforms like Twitter and Facebook sometimes offer live coverage of major events.

Choosing the best option depends on your preferences. Consider which news channels you want, whether you're willing to pay, and which devices you'll use. My Streaming Life used Google TV's news section this past weekend. It was a convenient solution for following recent events.

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Cord Cutters using fewer pay services

I've heard the claims that cord cutting leads to a mountain of streaming subscriptions, but my experience has always contradicted that. Now, a recent survey backs me up.

According to a July 2024 poll of Cord Cutters News readers, nearly 70% of cord cutters actually subscribe to four or fewer streaming services – a figure that's grown by almost 7% in just three months.

Digging deeper, over 54% reported using three or fewer services, a jump from around 47% in Spring 2024.

These numbers must scare media companies as increasingly cord cutters are unwilling to pay for more services. This has recently led to multiple streaming services teaming up to launch streaming bundles.

Why no live TV streaming services like FuboTV or Hulu with Live TV? In short, our survey shows most cord cutters don’t pay for live TV services. If you are not a sports fan, you do not need a live TV streaming service. There is also an argument to be made that the on-demand services listed above offer more content compared to traditional cable TV.

These findings debunk the myth of excessive subscriptions and showcase the increasing trend towards streamlined, budget-friendly streaming. My Streaming Life has followed this model for years, proving it's a viable and enjoyable path for many.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Disney+ Hacked: What Streamers Need to Know

As a streamer, my entertainment depends on the digital landscape. So when news broke about Disney+ accounts being hacked and sold on the dark web, it sent chills down my spine. It's a stark reminder of the ever-present threat of cyberattacks in the industry.

What Happened?

Reports suggest that hackers used a technique called "credential stuffing," exploiting usernames and passwords leaked from other websites to gain access to Disney+ accounts. These compromised accounts were then sold on the dark web, potentially giving unauthorized users access to personal information and viewing history.

Why Should Streamers Care?

This incident highlights a few crucial points for all streamers, both providers and consumers:

  • Security is Paramount: As the number of us streaming grows, so does the responsibility of streaming platforms to protect their data. This means implementing strong security measures, like two-factor authentication and regularly updating passwords.
  • Beware of Credential Stuffing: If you use the same password across multiple platforms, you're vulnerable to this type of attack. Consider using a password manager to create unique, complex passwords for each site.
  • Stay Informed: Keeping up with the latest cybersecurity news can help you identify potential threats and take proactive steps to protect yourself. Streaming platforms should also stay up to date to protect their audience.

What Can Streaming Platforms Do?

They can take several steps to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks:

  • Educate the Audience: Encourage all viewers to use strong passwords and be wary of phishing scams.
  • Partner with Cybersecurity Experts: Consider collaborating with cybersecurity professionals to assess a platform's vulnerabilities and implement appropriate safeguards.
  • Advocate for Stronger Security Measures: Let your voice be heard! Call on streaming platforms and industry leaders to prioritize security and invest in robust protection measures.

The Disney+ hack serves as a wake-up call for the streaming community. By taking proactive steps to safeguard the platforms and educate the audience, we can all create a safer and more secure digital environment for everyone.

Remember: Cybersecurity is an ongoing process. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and stay safe! My Streaming Life follows these guidelines, as should yours.