Paramount Plus is launching in the UK tomorrow (it's been live in the USA for over a year now) joining the ranks of streaming services such as Netflix and Disney Plus. And, as confirmed (opens in new tab) by Sky itself, "Sky Cinema now includes Paramount+ at no extra cost".
So, as I am a Sky Cinema subscriber, in just a few hours time I'm going to have access to shows such as Halo, The Good Wife, The Good Fight, SEAL Team, Star Trek and more.
But, despite me being a huge fan of quality streaming content, I'm not smiling – and here's why.
I wrote previously about how, right now in the 2022 cost of living crisis, I was thinking of ditching Netflix to subscribe to Paramount Plus based on my love of Star Trek. But I think that quite narrow way of thinking masked something that I've just realised I've reached – my limit for content to be parsed over an ever increasing amount of streaming services.
This isn't' just a financial consideration, either – although as my opinion piece showed, it also very much is for me. And I'm sure it's the same for hundreds of millions of people all around the world. I simply can't subscribe to every streaming service as my bank account can't handle it. Indeed, I feel that to subscribe to every streaming service there is going right now you'd have to have Scrooge McDuck levels of dosh.
When you start listing all the streaming services vying for your cash it gets a bit nuts: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock, Hulu, Sling TV, NOW and more. How on Earth are you supposed to afford all those services? The answer is, you can't.
I'm lucky that, right now (although this could change at any time I am sure depending on licencing agreements I have no control over), I'm going to be able to sample Paramount Plus without any extra spend, even though this functionality is of course only unlocked because I do already spend money subscribing to Sky and Sky Cinema.
But what if you don't, as hundreds of millions of people won't do? In that opinion piece of mine I complained that basically all previous Star Trek content had been stripped off of Netflix, meaning that I couldn't watch any of it anymore, with it migrating over to Paramount Plus (Paramount owns most of Star Trek, so of course as a business decision it made sense for the firm to wall off that content for Paramount+). So if you did just subscribe to Netflix and want to watch that content, you now have to also subscribe to Paramount Plus. Basically, more money has to leave your wallet.
There seems to be now almost the illusion of more choice of what to watch than ever before, but I actually think the current fierce content ring-fencing being engaged in by streaming services, which makes sense for them as they're in their infancy and need to deny other services that content to help promote their own, means the average person doesn't have more freedom, they've got less. When at one point a wider selection of content was available on fewer streaming services, now there's a reduced amount of content on a wider selection of streaming services.
Basically, I can't help but feel the streaming service deal for the consumer is slowly getting worse and worse in terms of value for money, and Paramount Plus launching has really hung a lantern on that for me – as if I didn't get it for free I would have to miss out on its content or cancel another service.
With content being so aggressively walled off by all the streaming services wherever possible, it is creating less and less overlap in terms of content between them, thereby pushing people towards needing additional subscriptions to watch most of the content they love.
It's been evident for over 5 years now in my opinion that the golden days of Netflix, where the service had basically no big competition and therefore could strike any content deal it wanted and offer its subscribers a truly phenomenal range of content, are well and truly done. But here's hoping we can start to see some sort of co-operation in terms of licencing across content owners, especially non-original content, or that we get more bundle subscription deals (which Sky has been a pioneer in, just look at the Sky TV + Netflix bundle on offer right now) geared towards saving people money.
As otherwise I feel the mass subscription cancellations many streaming services like Netflix have seen in 2022 are only going to become more sustained and worse.