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Streaming and Screaming

by Jonathan van Bilsen

Like so many of you, I subscribe to a number of streaming services which no doubt, have great programming. I am, however, somewhat disenchanted with the direction these services are heading.

When Netflix first came out, at about $7 a month, I thought, how wonderful it was. There were unlimited films, excellent documentaries and tons of wonderful television programs, most of which dropped an entire season at once. I was able to watch as many episodes as I wanted, when I wanted.

However, as Bob Dylan said, ’The Times They Are A Changin’. Prime, Crave and Netflix have recently added an option for commercials, offering the service at a discounted monthly rate. Now honestly, the ads are not bad. They are short, and a refreshing difference in quality from mainstream television, so I am OK with them. They also bring the price of the service, back to where it was a few years ago.

They are, however, another way of influencing buying choices, something mainstream television has mastered exceptionally well. What I take exception to, is due to advertising regulations, and policies, not all programs are available with the lower price bracket service. House of the Dragon, for example, is only available with the Crave premium package, at $22 a month.

Now there is advertising, the goal is to keep viewers as long as possible. Consequently, many series, instead of dropping the entire season, air one episode a week. This will keep you coming back to their station. There also seem to be more mid-season breaks for several weeks. Apparently, the reason is to prevent viewers from signing up for a free trial, and then cancelling, once they have watched the program.

Four or five streaming services per household are the norm. This adds up to about $700 a year. Add to that the $1,200, or so, we are paying for mainstream television and our entertainment costs are climbing dramatically. That of course, does not include internet or mobile phones.

I reminisce about my father, when Rogers knocked on our door to install a thing called ’cable’. The cost was $6 a month and my all-knowing father said it was a fad, and would never last. No one would ever pay to watch television. Enough said!

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website and YouTube.

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