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Why is streaming video still so messy?

Kristin Schwab Dec 6, 2022
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Streaming service HBO Max has relaunched on Amazon Prime Video. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Why is streaming video still so messy?

Kristin Schwab Dec 6, 2022
Heard on:
Streaming service HBO Max has relaunched on Amazon Prime Video. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images
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Let’s talk streaming video. The landscape is confusing, and getting more so. A new example: Streaming service HBO Max, which replaced HBO Now, which replaced HBO Go, is coming back to Amazon Prime — which of course has its own streaming service called Amazon Prime Video. This means you will once again be able to subscribe to this one streaming service (HBO’s) through another (Amazon’s.)

These streaming partnerships are pretty common, but oh so hard to untangle. Like, do you even know all the services you pay for?

Eleanor Patterson has been on a multiyear quest to finish watching “Murder, She Wrote.”

“It’s kind of like a scavenger hunt where we have to go seeking out piece by piece to find our content,” she said.

First it was on Netflix. Then it disappeared and eventually popped up on Amazon Prime Video. Patterson actually researches broadcast distribution at Auburn University. And she said even for her, it’s becoming more difficult to figure out where to find shows and movies. 

“I do think integration is king,” she said.

Integration like one streaming service living inside another: Log in and watch anything. So Amazon Prime Video is sort of trying to become the Amazon of streaming.

“We are in the middle of a great reset of how programming gets paid for and delivered to consumers,” said Tim Hanlon, a media analyst at The Vertere Group.

Having a hit show that simply gets people to subscribe and cancel when they’re done binging was never enough. So streaming platforms are experimenting with different subscription models, advertising strategies, and these partnerships with competitors.

“Especially the leaders are transitioning from trying to build the most market share and the biggest customer base they can to more of a focus on profitability,” said Jennifer Kent, VP of research at Parks Associates.

She said niche content companies like Britbox or Crunchyroll might have an easier time turning a profit. But most of the bigger platforms are having trouble. Netflix recently claimed it’s the only large-scale streaming company making money.

“So I do think that you’re going to see more acquisitions,” said Kent. “You know those who aren’t able to kinda show that they can turn a profit maybe being eaten up by some of the larger services.”

Until then you’ll have to figure out your own method to the madness. Something like watching “The White Lotus” via HBO Max via Amazon Prime via Roku via your TV.

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