Don’t spend it all on the streaming war

There’s more content on offer right now than you can ever consume in your lifetime. Between Showmax, YouTube Premium, DStv, Netflix, and now Apple TV+, there’s absolutely no way to stay abreast of every trendy new streaming thing. And it’s getting super expensive.

Here’s the thing, though, I don’t think we’re getting bang for buck at all. If you prefer to pay for content and fund the creators and creations you like, you’ll soon be spending upwards of R800/month on feeding your entertainment binge.

Currently my uncapped internet connection costs R700/month. Granted, that allows me to earn an income so you can write that off. I believe access to music to be a human right and have fully embraced ambient computing as the interface of the future. Apple Music is R90/month for a family subscription that covers my wife and my iOS devices. The Google Home speaker works best with Google Play Music which also happens to be my preferred music streaming service because it respects the fact that I have a catalogue of music stored on my Android phone.

Luckily Google Play Music and YouTube Music – which I’ve found to be the most user friendly for children under 12 and use on my daughter’s Samsung tablet – come bundled with YouTube Premium. That’s another R110/month family subscription that I happily pay to watch my primary content service ad-free.

Netflix is R170/month for the ability to stream on 4 devices simultaneously. This account is shared among my family, which should keep me safe when Mr Hastings decides to clamp down on password sharing.

Showmax (R100/month) has quickly become my favorite streaming service because it has the HBO and Cartoon Network license, delivering me Game of Thrones when that was still a thing And now delayed-by-a-couple-weeks South Park. It’s also become the de facto DStv Catch-Up for all the movies and sports highlights. We have a DStv Compact Plus subscription (R570/month) for the times when the internet is down or when we can’t risk hitting the Telkom fair usage policy throttle, so Showmax is free.

Apple TV+ just entered our household through someone in my family network being kind/smart enough to get a new iPhone, thus waiving the R90/month fee.

I’d love to add Disney+ to my entertainment bundle for the back catalogue and The Mandalorian, but that is only due to arrive in SA in 2021 because of ongoing rights agreements with DStv, Showmax and Netflix in our market. Those $5 will probably translate to around R100/month in our currency.

All told, there’s no winners among consumers in the streaming wars. Getting a bundle like DStv Premium serves most of my needs right now and gives me the rugby that I so greatly desire (I use a family member’s account on DStv Now). Other people enjoy the Netflix subscription more than me, and that’s fine too.

The future of this personalized content bundle is family coming together to all share the load. And I’m fully on board with that. Ironically, it’s the networks that first brought us together in front of a TV that we’re now deriding for not offering enough of the freedom of choice personal computers now grants us. And the high cost of replicating those TV bundles is bringing us together again. Just not in front of the same TV set at the same time of day.

Humans are social animals and it comes as no surprise that the best way for us to enjoy the wealth of content on offer is to pool our resources and maximize each individual’s personal content preferences. And who said screens are ruining society?

Follow me, it will be alright

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