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To Cancel or Not To Cancel...My Streaming Services, That Is 2 min read

To Cancel or Not To Cancel...My Streaming Services, That Is

As media companies try to find their way in the new streaming world, customers are quick to cancel when they don't like what's being offered. But they often come back.

By Cary Littlejohn

I wrote recently in praise of a thoroughly depressing recent history of Hollywood in the streaming era (from the viewpoint of writers) that was published in Harper's.

There was another piece on depressing (though understandable) actions of the customers of these streaming services: frequently canceling (and returning to) subscriptions.

Maybe this action sounds familiar to you out there. Beloved show that streams only on Peacock is over? Unsubscribe. Invested in a new, splashy, looks-like-a-million-bucks-because-it-is offering from AppleTV+, but found it to be a bit of a dud? Delete.

I don't really blame consumers. I don't really practice this form of cost-cutting (or protest, if you think about it), but I can see a certain value in it. Make good stuff or we will leave! Make yourself indispensable or feel our wrath!

It was notable in the piece that Netflix seems the best-insulated from this type of blowback. Is it because its fare is just that much better? Probably not, though it is incredibly diverse and seemingly endless, and if a person were only going to pick one in an attempt toward mass appeal, he could do much worse.

But it's more likely because Netflix has become our TV. I can't remember who I heard say that, but someone out there (apologies for the lack of credit) said that Netflix serves essentially the same purpose that basic cable TV, which is funny when you realize that Netflix led the charge to dismantle the cable bundle in pretty short order, especially as others raced to "catch up" to heights that honestly weren't ever achievable for them considering Netflix's massive head start, solid offerings, and generally high approval ratings from users and (sometimes) critics.

We spent so much effort to break apart the cable bundle, and now we're all juggling multiple subscriptions, some of which we don't want. Some refuse to suffer fools and simply delete it when it stops to be of value to them; others, like me, continue propping up a faltering system for fear of missing out, laziness of shutting things down, and probably, if I'm being honest, more than a little nostalgia for the cable bundle which I don't elect to pay for these days.

I worry about the future depicted in that Harper's article. I'm not a Hollywood writer, but a boy can dream, can't he? And it just feels like this practice of off again, on again from the customers can't be a good thing for the companies in the long run, and if they go away, what's left?