I Weep For Cinema

What I Want from Streaming Services

Streaming…. Videos over the internet, able to be played with a click of a button. Shouldn’t be too hard right? This is a pretty new concept for many. Lots of people just signed up for Netflix streaming within the last several years. Disney+ has become in its first month, one of the biggest streaming sites out right now. So why am I writing this?

Because I’ve been doing this since 2004. Back then, one of the best things about a modded Xbox was that it had a program installed on it called Xbox Media Player, which was able to house and play all my downloaded Simpsons, Family Guy and Batman video files on my TV. When it changed its name to Xbox Media Center, or XBMC for short, it became capable of sharing files over a home network with SMB shares. This allowed me to setup a folder structure on my PC, and just have ALL of my media, every downloaded movie and show without having to FTP into the Xbox and transfer everything, wasting valuable hard drive space on the Xbox. 

Once the original Xbox became a tad out of date, the XBMC team started branching out onto the PC scene and created a ported version there too. Then years later they changed the name again, since it wasn’t primarily used on the Xbox anymore, it made little sense to keep the Xbox name in there (plus they weren’t officially part of Microsoft, so getting away with IP legal issues, they better). They named it to Kodi but kept tailoring it to make it the all in one Home Theater software it always was.

I’ve been collecting media ever since I was young. I wanted to own every game, have every single movie and TV show ever made, at the drop of the hat. That’s why I have a Plex server with over 4,000 movies alone. I pride myself on the deep knowledge of movies and the history of them. Being able to recal a specific game, or movie or show and be able to talk to everyone about it. Seeing someone’s face light up when I asked them to name a video game from their childhood, and bring it up and have them playing it within 30 seconds was a consant joy.

When Disney+ launched, Verizon had a deal where anyone who has an unlimited plan would get an entire year of access free, well, that sounded too good to pass up, even if I was a bit jaded. With the overpromotion of Marvel and Star Wars, you’d forget that they have tons of other shows and movies that are Disney branded. 

Once I loaded it up, I saw a show that caught my eye. A show made specifically for the streaming service. It’s called The Imagineering Story. In it, they go through things like the creation of Disneyland and show lots of great clips. One of the clips they regularly show is something from the older Disney TV show Walt produced and starred in, back in the early and mid 60’s. These were more advertisements to get the public excited about Disneyland, but it showed stuff you would never think possible before. 

These are the things I expect out of a Streaming service. I don’t want just the most popular or the newest movies. I couldn’t care less about that stuff. I want the hard to find things.The things you can’t just find anymore. There was a Disney Channel show that was produced back when I was a kid, that had lots of behind the scenes called Disney Inside Out. It starred George Foreman and a couple kids. They went behind the scenes on rides like the Haunted Mansion and showed how certain effects were made. These are the things I expect to be on a company’s streaming site. 

When the WWE launched their streaming site called WWE Network, they also didn’t have every single thing they owned up at launch. They slowly rolled out new episodes of Nitro or Thunder a year or two later. Even though they were missing content, it still was an unbelievable deal. I loved being able to watch every single PPV from all the companies in one place. Something that even was hard for me to keep up with. Having the PPVs live bundled with the Network was also an incredible deal. Instead of paying around $60 for one 3 hour event, I could pay $10 for an entire month and be able to watch that PPV live as well. It was a steal. The only issue I had with the WWE Network, was that as good as having their back catalogue of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of hours of content, It still didn’t have everything all in one place. Their TV shows they produced, all 13+ hours every week were nowhere to be found. You couldn’t watch Monday Night Raw as it aired, you had to have a cable subscription and watch it there instead. 

This was the killer issue for me. Why wouldn’t you have everything in one place? This is why the whole Marvel/Fox/Sony issue with not allowing Spider-Man or the X-Men in movies sucks. There is zero reason for a company to not have everything they own on their own streaming service. This is why Plex will still be relevant another decade from now, and having my own service, where I’ll go do the legwork will always be more valuable than the $10 a month to pay a company to get only a part of their library. 

If it ever comes to the point where I can sub to a single site, to get their entire library from day one, maybe I’ll change my tune, but until then, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.