Streaming options and the independent web

Hulu recently announced they would be raising their prices come December. We had the Live TV option with Ads and it would be jumping from $45/mo to $55/mo. I was just about to upgrade to the “no ads” plan before they made this announcement.

But this has been a busy week for streaming services so I did some back of the envelope calculations and here’s what we’ve landed on:

Yes, we are giving up live tv. But I think in all the time we had hulu Live TV since this summer, I’ve watched a live show exactly 1 time. So not really getting our money’s worth there. (That said, we have an antenna hooked up to our basement TV if we want to watch football on network television).

Note that by default the Disney/Hulu/ESPN bundle for $12.99 doesn’t give you ad free Hulu, but if you subscribe to ad-free Hulu using the same email you use for your Disney account, Disney refunds $4.99/month to your account. One of the upsides of synergy, yay!

But…Disney?

I’ve been talking to a friend of mine about Disney and what they’ve done to entertainment. I agree that it is a bit dystopian. Not just that a single massive corporation owns Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars but that they also own both Disney streaming AND Hulu streaming. That is an insane amount of media assets under one umbrella.

The quick downside is that I’m sure we will very soon see some kind of price gouging from Disney. It is inevitable. How long before I’m paying $55 a month for the same bundle with Hulu and ESPN?

But the larger, long term problem with opening the door to the Disney universe is my implicit support of their dilution of entertainment down to a lowest-common-denominator formula.

A lot of Disney’s offerings (everything they touch, from Disney cartoons to the Marvel and Star Wars universes) seem to have some sort of diversity punch list that needs to be completed before the picture is released. I’m not arguing against the need for inclusion or diversity in entertainment, but when inclusion becomes predictably formulaic, it makes it more and more difficult to enter that bewitched state of being absorbed into something you know is not real—the very reason we turn to entertainment.

When creators need to hit some kind of punch list of inclusion metrics, the contrived inclusion pierces the illusion of the entertainment and breaks the spell.

And I think Disney is just going to get worse and worse with this and contaminate everything they touch with their inclusivity punch lists.

The Independent Web is the answer.

But there is a huge upside to this consolidation and watering down of entertainment: there will always be some creators who will rebel against overly-homogenized entertainment.

The more powerful Disney gets, the more fuel and energy there will be around creating alternatives to that entertainment. And so long as the internet remains free and open (and that’s never guaranteed), this is perhaps the best time in history for creators who want to put something out there and find an audience that is sick of homogenized pablum.

So, I’ll keep paying my $30 a month, watch some letterboxed Simpson’s but make sure to keep my RSS reader pointed in the direction of the independent web creators who, just like they have for the past 20 years, will help me find the really great stuff on the internet that would never pass through Disney’s homogenizing filters.