Last year I said; “Goodbye Netflix”.
“At least for movies, I’m on a hunt. I’m trying Hulu, but only because they have Stargate SG-1 and Firefly. Their movie list looks slightly better, but not so appealing that I’m sucked in. The mute button is necessary for the anxiety-driven medical ads, and the fact that there are ads even though I’m paying for the service.”
It’s time to say Goodbye Hulu, at least for now. One streaming service at a time. It’s a frugal thing. Next up, Amazon Prime. Here’s why I’m saying goodbye to one mega-corp and hello to a much larger mega-corp.
Go back nine years and recall why I left Directv. The cost was ridiculous. Despite spending about sixty dollars a month I still had to listen to ads – ads that amplified fears and anxieties. The worst were pharmaceutical ads that made every ache seem like a symptom of impending death. Find a fear (or make one), amplify it, and present a solution. And I was paying for that? There was lots to watch, but it took as much effort to know what to ignore. Not an efficient use of my time, and not something that helped me relax and enjoy.
Say hello to streaming Netflix over an early Roku box. Ah, the simple life. Then, Netflix decided to do more than share others’ content by emphasizing their own. Roku decided to make my old box obsolete. Get a new Roku, switch from Netflix to Hulu. At least I could binge watch a good and long sci-fi series, and a great but too short sci-fi series. But the ads, the ads. Too much fear in a world that already has an oversupply.
You may have noticed that I give such services a year. It takes that long for binge-watching series that lasted for ten years (but at least now it is possible to watch them at ten times the broadcast speed.) You know those samples companies give away at groceries and such? They’re too small for me. If I want to try a beer, I’ll drink an entire glass. If I want to try a wine, I’ll buy a bottle, and taste it over more than an evening. Sips are too small samples for me. I’ll commit to more because first impressions are frequently wrong, even if they are what drives most human interactions.
I haven’t watched everything on Hulu. Who could? But I find myself scrolling and scrolling, hunting for something I want, rather than am simply willing, to watch. No greater analysis required. Too much fear, too little joy, time to try something different.
CBS All Access almost got me. They’re holding the new Star Trek series hostage, but I considered paying their price. After looking through the rest of their offerings though, I was underwhelmed. Committing to CBS would be like going back fifty years and breaking the TV antenna so it couldn’t get NBC, ABC, or PBS. There are hundreds more services now, but I’m keeping it simple and cheap by checking one at a time.
Hello Amazon. AMZN is one of those stories where I bet beside the stock. I didn’t bet against it; but I hoped that its competitors would rise with it. Got that wrong. Barnes & Noble had a great opportunity – and missed it. As Amazon grew and AMZN rose, I continually thought it had gone far enough. Besides, monopolies eventually run into anti-trust regulations. Right? Got that one wrong, too. Now, certain aspects of Amazon make me cringe. Just like Google leaving behind their early motto of “Do No Evil” and abandoning their ultra-simplistic architecture, Amazon has become something dangerously large.
I didn’t and don’t want, to feed such beastly large entities; but they now rule in a literal sense. They command more power than governments, similar to what was forecast in Powershift by Alvin Toffler. (Available on Amazon for $8.44) Maybe I should embrace the beast.
The beast has been benevolent towards me. Amazon sells and has helped me publish my books. (Check my Amazon Author Page for the long list.) Living on an island creates at least some reliance on shopping and shipping via Internet companies. Much of the rest is abstractions or at least remote: stories of what they’re doing to employees, meddling in local politics, and the bizarre circus they inspired when they teased cities with the prospect of a second headquarters.
I don’t just watch sci-fi; but that seems to be a distinguishing feature. I enjoy sci-fi because it makes me think, and if written right, makes me feel, too. I’m also writing my first sci-fi novel. Watching and reading sci-fi has helped me decide how I want to write my novel. Excellent ideas can easily be lost in bad writing. Good writing draws a crowd, but the sci-fi community is unlikely to abide bad ideas. It’s a balancing act, and one I want to better understand.
One of my favorite examples of excellent sci-fi is Babylon 5. Aliens were truly alien. Humans were human. Science was so well respected that the series has some of the most accurate space battles. The series was written as a five-year arc, not a one year season that was hopefully extended annually and tenuously. The network still messed that up, but the show excelled, at least for me.
Unless I want to pay a couple of bucks for each episode, or buy the complete box set, it looks like I should sign up for Amazon Prime.
I avoided Amazon Prime for years because, despite the shipping cost benefits, I am a minimalist and the last several years have been frugal by necessity. Shopping only happens when it must (mostly.) I didn’t want to sign up for Amazon Prime only for streaming. The monthly fee is high enough that it exceeds the no-ad version of Hulu. But paying that extra for, streaming, plus shipping, plus music, plus whatever else they have means getting a lot for effectively a little extra.
But why now? Well, Hulu has had its year. I’m ready for Babylon 5. And, my dance shoes are falling apart.
Yes, I dance. It’s social dancing. If you did it wrong but you’re both smiling, you did it right. The soles have been glued back on four times. The insoles are squashed thin. The stuffing is falling out. Even the tag has been wiped clean. I can’t read the size and have to guess. (That’s another story.) Just buying the shoes can save me much of the differential between Hulu’s annual cost and Amazon’s annual cost.
Personal finance is not always about spending as little as possible. Spending the least can also mean getting the least. Sometimes that’s all someone can afford. Walmart built a big business based on that idea. As my finances improve, it becomes possible to take a step up to leverage that balancing act between cost and benefit.
I doubt that there will be a need to update you as I step through signing up. Amazon Prime seems to be so well-used that the process should be smooth. If not, I’ll blog about that.
In the meantime, I’ll get out the plastic to pay for online services; and the engineer in me will hang onto Hulu just a little while longer because it’s usually good to have a backup. Stay tuned.