January 29, 2023

It may not be obvious when we flip the page on the couch and turn the page on Netflix, but the golden age of streaming entertainment may be over. We may not like what happens next.

Soon, we may be paying more for fewer good options, nostalgic for the days of unlimited streaming binge-watching, and sitting in tiresome ads.

A short explanation for this shift in vibes: People have lost a little faith in streaming’s growth potential, suspecting that there will be far-reaching knock-on effects.

It started with Netflix and its surprising disclosure earlier this year that it lost subscribers for the first time in a decade. On Tuesday, Netflix said it shrank again, albeit not as much as expected. Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings described the company’s business results as “not so bad.”

When streaming leaders began to falter, it raised widespread doubts about streaming services.

Investors and business owners of entertainment companies are starting to take the following questions seriously: a worse business than cable? What if we overestimate how many people are willing to pay for streaming or misjudge how quickly they change their habits?

Streaming is still the future of entertainment, but as I’ve written before, the future isn’t necessarily going to skyrocket.

One investment analyst told my colleague Nicole Sperling that he thinks Netflix’s total addressable market could be 400 million customers worldwide, not the 1 billion Netflix has long claimed. It’s not just Netflix’s problem if Netflix’s potential isn’t as great as the company thinks, or if it takes longer to get there. It also suggests that streaming may never be as big as optimists think.

We don’t always need to care when a wealthy company panics to find that it’s not growing as fast as expected. But it’s different: We benefit from casual streaming optimism, and a potential mismatch between entertainment companies’ expectations and reality will affect us.

Over the past decade, companies including Netflix, Disney, HBO, Comcast, Apple and Amazon have been spending heavily to acquire customers for streaming services, mostly without profit. All that money could very well have given us a cheaper and better streaming video service than we could have had if we didn’t want these entertainment services to have a huge and lucrative potential audience.

If we had fun when we had high hopes for streaming, the industry might be in a bad place right now question your optimism.

Netflix and others say they are still confident, but they are not acting like they are now. Netflix said Tuesday that it will keep its programming budget roughly the same for years to come, after investing heavily in producing or buying entertainment over a long period of time.

Netflix’s cautious approach to money is a fresh look, and Netflix isn’t alone.Journalists busy recording budget cuts Around the streaming industry and canceling shows to save money. “Gone are the days of drunken sailor consumption,” an entertainment agent recently said Tell Bloomberg News reporter Lucas Shaw.

(To be fair, there are still drunk sailors spending, especially with companies like Apple whose streaming services aren’t aiming to be profitable.)

All of us will soon start to see the impact of this grim streaming phase, if we haven’t already. If you’re wondering why Netflix and some other streaming services release series one after another or in batches for our binge, rather than all at once, it’s partly a result of growth concerns. Netflix wants you to subscribe to watch new seasons of Stranger Things for a few months, not watch all the new episodes in one weekend and then cancel.

Companies worried about their growth may release fewer “wow” shows or charge higher prices than we’re used to. Netflix starts pushing”Paid to share” subscription, A euphemism for charging extra for those who now share a Netflix password with six cousins ​​and a pizza delivery guy. When Netflix was confident about its growth, it mostly ignored account sharing. no longer.

Low-cost streaming subscriptions with commercials are popular on Hulu and HBO Max, and Netflix will try them too. They are an option for us to pay less, but they also acknowledge that relatively low-cost, ad-free self-service entertainment buffets are likely to have fallen behind us.

This sadder phase of streaming may be a fleeting phenomenon. Just wait and see. But it’s amazing how much has changed since streaming companies that thought they’d maintain fast growth for a long time had to face the possibility that they were wrong.

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here is Couple of pigeons snuggling. You’re welcome.

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