The price is not right: are there too many streaming services? | Television


In the Guide’s weekly Solved! column, we look into a crucial pop-culture question you’ve been burning to know the answer to – and settle it, once and for all

The monthly price of a Disney+ subscription went up by more than a third last month and, whichever way you look at it, that’s quite a hike. Yes, it only took it from £5.99 to £7.99, which is hardly criminal in return for the service effectively doubling its library. But Netflix’s standard subscription also recently received a bump from £8.99 to £9.99 per month. Likewise, Now TV’s Entertainment Pass hopped from £8.99 to £9.99 back in September.

None of these individual prices are anything much to whinge about, considering the sheer mountain of entertainment each provides. Amazon Prime Video remains excellent value at £7.99, as does Apple TV+ at a practically-giving-it-away £4.99. A few prices may have crept up of late, but you would have to be profoundly tight to rail against any of the figures mentioned here.

Until you add them together. To save you some maths, the combined price of the packages mentioned above is now £40.95 per month. If you’ve got the premium, multiscreen Netflix package (and your parents obviously use your login, so of course you have), that has gone up by £2 to £13.99. Do you like watching shows in full HD, as opposed to a blurred, 70s-porno swirl of shape and colour? Then Now TV – quite amazingly, in 2021 – will ask you for an extra £3 a month. Suddenly, you’re forking out £48 per month for telly. Chuck in BritBox and it’s £54. Which is considerably more than the price of the old-school Sky TV subscriptions most of these streaming services were designed, and predatorily priced, to supplant.

And let’s face it: if you are paying that not inconsiderable sum for all these services, there is more programming being slopped on to your tray than any human person could ever hope to consume, even during the afternoon-pyjamas expanse that is lockdown. Netflix’s true-crime output alone provides more hours of new programming than there are in even the most slovenly week. There are eight seasons of The Blacklist. Eight! And isn’t that new Marvel series about to start? But you never even got round to watching Homecoming! But there’s that Sherlock Holmes thing, too, and Cobra Kai, and … it’s simply exhausting.

These services are, of course, entirely optional. And having too much great telly is a far nicer problem than the alternative. However, as more companies jostle for a piece of the pie, opting in and out of the ones you want month by month becomes the only option for anyone who doesn’t want to splash more on TV than they do on their gas and electric bills. With such a bewildering array of services on offer, each pumping out their own “unmissable” shows, we have reached a point where premium TV is an ungainly, untameable monster that is now either prohibitively expensive or a right faff. And wasn’t the whole point of the streaming revolution for it to be neither?

At the moment, it’s just about manageable. But please, guys, no more. You’ve been a great pal this past year, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. No, no, it’s not you, it’s us. Don’t cry. Oh god, now we’re crying!

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