Disney and ESPN are Making Television Worse by taking Content Inhouse

I’m not prepared to go all doom and gloom like some people and say it’s all over for Netflix, but unless they take corrective action now, they’re likely to lose a great deal of significance in the coming years. Disney announced yesterday on its earnings call that company is accelerating its purchase plan of BAMTech, and launching a paid streaming service for the Mouse and for ESPN. ESPN’s service will launch in 2018 and Disney’s streaming will launch in 2019. Disney will then remove its content from Netflix, and I have to assume ESPN will want to reduce access or completely remove WatchESPN access to cable subscribers.

In short, yesterday’s news is a big deal. Disney has been around forever and owns a lot of content. Content that you like and maybe more importantly, content your kids like. I asked Seth (@sethmerenbloom) and Josh (@railbirdj) today how they use Netflix and both essentially said they subscribe to Netflix so their kids can watch Disney’s content. So, that’s troublesome.

If you’re a single, no kid guy like me, losing that Disney stuff isn’t a big deal, but ESPN potentially pulling back some of its content from cable subscribers is my equivalent of losing the Mouse on Netflix. I don’t pay for traditional cable, but instead pay for Sony’s over-the-top PlayStation Vue. The service is wonderful because it allows me to watch essentially every channel I need for roughly $40 per month and gives me added access to WatchESPN, Fox’s terrible streaming component and any other service that requires an existing “cable subscription.”

But, if ESPN decides to be assholes and needs me to buy access from them to watch baseball, football, or competitive dodgeball, then we’re going to have a problem. Right now, I pay for PlayStation Vue ($40 per month), Netflix ($10 per month), Amazon Prime ($10 per month) and MLB.tv ($50 per year; buy during Father’s Day weekend cause its half off). So, if we split that per month, that’s right around $70 per month. At that point, I may as well just go back to a regular cable subscription and I haven’t even included whatever ESPN will charge for their new streaming service (my guess is $20 per month). That’s a lot of money for one person to spend considering how little time I spend at home and/or watching television.

I recognize that content providers need to be accountable to their shareholders, but what about their customers? I don’t know anyone who wants to have to remember that if I want to watch Monday Night Baseball I have to go to this app, but for Sunday Night Football I go to this app. That’s a little ridiculous and I hope someone other than me recognizes this potential problem.

What does a company like Netflix or Amazon do when all the content leaves their service and silos themselves? Easy, they should make their own content or buy the rights to something that would essentially force me to continue subscribing to their service. Ahem, live sports.

Outside of House of Cards and Star Trek, I don’t have a need for Netflix, and oh by the way…CBS is pulling all its Star Trek content from Netflix this fall, and if you’re in the United States you’ll only be able to watch the new Trek series on CBS All-Access, which if you’re keeping up is another streaming service.

There needs to be a company that takes these disparate services and channels and puts them in one place, but at the same time will let you pick and choose the channels you want to watch.

Weird, because that sounds a lot like cable.