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Streaming vs. cable: which is worth it? (Op-Ed)

Streaming subscriptions for films and television shows have exploded in popularity and variety, providing endless options and titles for your movie nights at home or weekly show binges. 

As the want for on-demand content has increased, the once simple Netflix has been joined by other recognizable services such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, Max (previously known as HBO Max), Disney+. Paramount+, and more, along with established network channels launching their own platforms.

Among all of these options, we must wonder if cable subscriptions have become completely obsolete. After all, who would prefer to pay an expensive monthly fee for an immobile plan that’s not guaranteed to include your favorite content, while also being riddled with endless advertisements? 

Unfortunately, streaming, the once inexpensive, convenient alternative, is already deep down that path with no end in sight. 

Building appeal by offering extensive libraries with ad-free streaming, affordable plans and account flexibility, these platforms grew at incredible rates with millions of users enjoying their favorite content at the click of a button. But, of course, all good things must come to an end. 

As visibility and user bases have grown, we’ve seen a steady price increase from these platforms for essentially the same services, sometimes exceeding the cost of a cable subscription. As well, advertisements have been incorporated into nearly all options, offset by the introduction of tiered subscriptions that vary in cost based on how many advertisements users are willing to see. We’ve also witnessed a limit on the number of devices that can be used in certain tiers, with more phones, televisions, or tablets quickly racking up the cost.

Additionally, and perhaps most controversially, certain platforms such as Netflix are deep into cracking down on password sharing between households. This policy, which took place initially in May 2023, forbids users from sharing accounts on the same subscription outside of a main “household”, or a physical location in which a primary device is registered. As a result, college students, military families, and those who travel regularly for work or recreation, to name a few, are unable to access their accounts despite using registered devices. 

This move has been met with major backlash by users, accusing Netflix of greedy behavior and targeting some of the only individuals left who do not pay for their own account in a highly saturated market. 

With all of this in mind, one should consider whether the golden age of streaming has passed. 

Is it time to ditch the apps and return to the classic screen experience, commercials, airtimes and all? Or will we continue to allow all of these misdeeds as long as we can see the next season of “Bridgerton”? 

The choice is ours. 

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