Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Streaming Video Services Suck Raw Rotten Eggs

Tell me, am I the only one who thinks this way?  I bet I am not - if so, share this post, and get your friends to share it - spread the word.  If these content providers hear it, they will respond.

Streaming Services Suck

Has anyone ever seen or smelled a rotten egg?  I would say in my life, there are perhaps a handful of smells that are so vile, so fetid, so nasty that the stench is what I would call much worse than a skunk at ground zero.  Among these are rotten eggs, rotten potatoes, spoiled milk (way gone, not just turning).  Number 2 doesn't even come close.

I have been using Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Apple TV for 6 months now (and YouTube for years).  Frankly, I am quite disappointed.  Not with how they work - the services are pretty good, Apple TV device, iPhones, iPods and iPads are the best at using these services.  I have AT&T U-Verse, which rocks (much better than Comcast), and it is quite good.

No, where they all go wrong (including many others I didn't mention like iTunes, Vimeo, and others) is content.  Content, content, content.

Netflix has movies.  Hulu, TV shows.  Netflix doesn't have the latest just-out movies, OK, I got it.  But let's take what I would call some American classics, must-haves.  Stripes.  Not there.  Animal House?  Nope.  Caddy Shack, National Lampoon Vacation - all of them, I mean heck, what is the point?  Hulu doesn't have a lot of TV shows, but it does better in that niche than Netflix in the movie niche.  Amazon Prime - from what I hear, definitely not enough content, but at least they bundle that with other values beyond streaming video.  So I get into the old TV shows that Netflix has, that I never watched all of them when I was a kid.  MacGyver, for instance.  I get through season 4, and poof - it's gone.  Removed from the list.  Why?  Any warning?  What jerks.

OK, so it's a web thing, why not just go to the Netflix suggestion form and request a title?  Nope, there is no way to do that.  Call their tech support, they just apologize and offer no help.

And Hulu, what exactly am I paying $8 a month for?  The ads don't go away.

So what other options are out there?  Apple TV has Vimeo, MLB, NHL, NFL, and a bunch more.  They now have WSJLive, which is cool, but the others are all subscription or pay-per-view.  Really!??  PPV!?  So people REALLY want to pay for each title, each time they watch it?  I don't think so.  In fact, I would really like to know WHO ACTUALLY PAYS FOR CONTENT IN THIS WAY?  These services are still in business, so SOMEONE must keep them afloat, but who?

Cable TV Sucks

Cable TV ain't that much better.  So I have a basic package with what, some 800 channels (double that with the HD versions)?  How many channels do the 6 of us watch - perhaps 20 or so?  I am paying what, $70 or $80 a month for 3% of the channels!?

Now let's talk about quality of service.  We all know customer service stories from cable TV companies.  Strange, they seem to have learned from telephone companies (back when AT&T was divested, and markets were locked by contract to one provider).  But I mean technical service, in this case I have a LOT of digital snow (by a lot, several programs a week is too much).  How many times have I recorded a program on DVR, only to have the playback record the stops, digital snow, and lost signals for these darned shows.  It almost makes me long for the days of the fuzzy picture, at least you could make out what was going on through the static.

If I lived in some remote area with low quality of access, I could understand.

What We Consumers Want

Here's the thing.  History has shown, if you can give people what they want (even if they don't know it until they see your product), then you can become very wealthy.  Look at Apple with the iPod, Sam's Club with warehouse prices, and so on.

WE WANT TO PICK OUR CONTENT, AND PAY A FLAT RATE FOR WHAT WE WANT.  That's right, we want to be able to pick and chose our channels.  If you like Discovery, but not A&E, then pick one.  Put together the 50 or so channels you want.  Then, you can throw in local channels, public & government access, whatever.  Give us a mix of traditional broadcast channels, and on-demand/streaming providers like Vimeo, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and more.  Or, better yet, each channel should have its own mix of live and recorded content.  Imagine turning to the ABC channel, and watching live, or watching the show from yesterday, you pick.

You can bundle packages, like a Sports package, a News package, an Entertainment, perhaps a Premium Entertainment.  But give us small bundles, and a-la-carte options.  Charge us $30 a month, flat rate, for up to 50 choice-channels (plus the others mentioned above).  Divvy your revenues as a provider service (say Google, Comcast, AT&T, Apple, whatever), and pay subscription portions out to the channels I choose.

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