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There's no such thing as too many streaming services

Digital Spy (UK) logo Digital Spy (UK) 06/11/2019 David Opie
Jason Momoa, Millie Bobby Brown, Chace Crawford posing for the camera: As the streaming wars heat up, Netflix and its rivals will have to find new ways to attract subscribers through innovation and quality original programming. © Getty Images / Marvel Studios / Netflix / Amazon As the streaming wars heat up, Netflix and its rivals will have to find new ways to attract subscribers through innovation and quality original programming.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

According to The Guardian, "The golden age of streaming is dead," and plenty seem to agree.

With the arrival of Apple TV+ and other streaming services looming, many believe Netflix's dominance will soon come to an end, forcing consumers to pay out more and more to access all the content they want to see.

© Getty

Not only will costs increase as these streamers adopt an all-too-familiar, cable-style model, but many suspect the focus will also shift from quality to quantity (if it hasn't already).

Is that really true? Or are people just afraid of change?

It's indisputable that costs to the consumer will rise. As more and more streaming options are made available, basic maths dictates that you'll need more money to use them all. By next year, you either pay out to see Rick and Morty on HBO Max or risk not seeing it at all.

But that doesn't tell the whole story.

Millie Bobby Brown et al. posing for the camera: stranger things x nike collaboration collection © Netflix - Netflix stranger things x nike collaboration collection

It's easy to forget now, but there was a time when TV fans shelled out a hundred pounds or more just to own a complete box set of their favourite show. These days, services like Netflix provide an almost limitless source of entertainment for far, far less. Even if you subscribe to every streamer that will soon be made available, it's still not going to add up to more than many people used to pay.

When you also factor in family plans and shared log-ins, it's clear we won't be paying out as much as the scaremongers would have you believe. Besides, it's not like we have time to catch up with everything included on all of these services anyway.

While that's all well and good, the emphasis on quantity over quality is a trickier proposition. It's hard to deny that Netflix has been quick to cancel critically acclaimed shows like The OA in favour of more accessible programs for mass appeal (even while risking a short-term loss of subscribers).

© Getty

However, focusing purely on this ignores the exciting storytelling opportunities that have arisen thanks in large part to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Stranger Things, The Boys, The Haunting of Hill House... all of these high-quality shows benefit from the binge format in ways that traditional network TV could never provide.

Netflix is now pouring billions into original content like this to fend off rivals and other companies like Apple are doing the same in order to play catch-up. While some might argue that services are churning out more and more content in a bid to overwhelm their competitors with sheer numbers, that doesn't mean that high-quality, original programming will be a thing of the past.

a man and a woman looking at the camera: Elite, season 2 © Manuel Fernandez-Valdes/Netflix Elite, season 2

Among the High School Musical revivals and Battlestar Galactica reboots, we're also seeing more diversity than ever on TV thanks to these streaming services. With shows like Elite and Special, Netflix are leading the way when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation, and racial diversity is becoming more prominent across the board too, as seen most recently in the likes of Apple's See, and Disney's The Mandalorian.

At the end of the day, original content will be the deciding factor when it comes to which service people sign up for. This means that more stories are being told than ever, which in turn provides more opportunities for marginalised writers to make their voices heard too. Whether that's a conscious aim or not, increased diversity and more authentic representation on screen can only ever be a good thing.

More stories also means more potential for artistic innovation as well. Recognisable brands like Marvel will always reign supreme, but as more money is funnelled into each service, there's more opportunity for experimental fare like Amazon Prime's Undone and Netflix's Love, Death + Robots to shine in ways they never would on traditional TV.

Aside from prioritising original content, the streaming wars will likely develop in other unexpected ways too as each service fights down and dirty for our loyalty.

Related: From DVDs to Queen Bey: Netflix’s journey to global domination (Lovemoney) 

For example, Comcast's NBCUniversal is thinking about making the Peacock streaming service free for everyone, provided that they sit through ads. These kind of innovative approaches to pricing could encourage established streaming services to consider alternative options as well.

As the streaming wars continue to heat up, more content will head our way in more and more unexpected ways as each service devises new strategies to attract subscribers and retain customers in the long term.

Sure, not every show will be the next Stranger Things, but that doesn't mean quality is taking second place to quantity. It's impossible for every show to be that successful, and this was always a problem with traditional network TV too. The difference now is that we live in a world with near-limitless entertainment options which are more diverse than ever — all within easy reach.

That doesn't sound like the golden age of streaming is dead. If anything, it sounds like streaming's golden age is only just beginning, and that's a price worth paying.

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