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Disaggregation Nation: Cord-Cutters Need to Make Tough Choices
The golden age of TV is also the golden age of TV providers. As the number of services grows exponentially, viewers wonder what they've gotten themselves into.

As I write this, Disney has just taken over full operational control of Hulu. NBCUniversal has just made it clear that NBC shows will be leaving other streaming services and “coming home,” in the words of advertising chairman Linda Yaccarino.

To quote Recode Media’s Peter Kafka on Twitter: “Explained Hulu/Comcast/Disney. tldr: In a few years, everything you used to find on Netflix and Hulu will be spread out between Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, NBCU’s streamer, WarnerMedia’s streamer, etc. Fun!”

As Kafka, one of the most astute media journalists working today, knows all too well, it’s not going to be any fun at all, at least not for consumers whose bank accounts and attention spans are going to limit them to two or three streaming services. In other words, just about everybody who has cut the cord (or never connected it) is going to have to make tough choices about what movies, shows, and live events mean enough to them to pay for.

When Netflix and Hulu first appeared on the scene, they offered a cheap, on-demand addition to linear programming and the (then-paltry) on-demand offerings from cable providers. When the skinny bundles arrived, they presented OTT alternatives to the cable bundle. If the last 10 years have been the golden age of television, they’ve also been the golden age of TV providers.

But even now, consumers complain that they don’t have an easy way to know where their favorite shows or movies are available. As we move toward a world dominated by services that are not only direct-to-consumer but owned-and-operated, it’s going to get even worse for viewers.

What about the broadcasters and entertainment conglomerates that own and operate those services, though? With its combination of content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars, Disney+ will be hard to deny, but none of the others are a sure thing.

I’m a cord-cutter for life, but it’s not much of a stretch to think that many consumers will find themselves wondering if cable is such a bad deal after all.

[This article appears in the June 2019 issue of Streaming Media Magazine as "Disaggregation Nation."]

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