Tuesday, August 4, 2020

HBO MAX and PEACOCK, NOT ON ROKU or AMAZON FIRESTICK!?: Pandemic-Induced Thoughts on Current Streaming Landscape.

So-eh, I don't normally listen to John Campea much. I know a lot of people like him, especially in the film and cinephile community,... (Shrugs) Eh.

Don't get me wrong, I think he knows his stuff, he is talented and knowledgable and is certainly way more successful at this then I've ever been, but I'm usually very turned-off by his constant promotion of fans and fandom as a positive. Yeah, he's one of the big ones with that, and he's not the only one...- Look, I'll just be blunt, I actually don't like most of the big film podcasters out there, especially the ones that are popular with the fans, 'cause it's just the same shit that everybody talks about after. Even like, the good ones, that might not want to just focus on that, but-, like, it's multiple hours of material on a regular basis and there just isn't enough entertainment news that's actually compelling out there, so you're going to dive into arguments about what the best Joker origin story is eventually, but it's such a turnoff and especially from the ones who focus in on that stuff.... Eh, I don't care who's cast in anything until I see the performance for myself, so, this kind of stuff is really fandom speculation and minutia,- most of you know I don't have a fan's perspective and there's a reason; I hate that perspective, so it doesn't do it for me.

That said, Campea knows his stuff and once in awhile, I'll come across something that he's talking about that'll interest me. And across my Youtube recommendations for some reason, I came across this little piece of info:

Now, like Campea, I also have a Roku device, and I make it a habit to update it pretty regularly. I'd say, at least once or twice a week, I will look around for new channels, reorgainze the old/current ones I have, and/or delete some dead ones that don't exist anymore and are just taking up space. And, I was expecting both HBO Max and Peacock to eventually be on my Roku TV. It seemed natural honestly. I kept checking the New Channels and Notable Channels tab and see what they get, so yeah, I was wondering why I wasn't seeing these highly-promoted major streaming services pop up anywhere.

Oh and also Quibi isn't on Roku either, but that, I mostly expected to be honest. I'm not going to go too into Quibi's complete and utter failures as an idea or a streaming service, or, well everything, there's plenty who have already documented all it's flounderings, but basically, Jeffrey Katzenberg really thought that since people were watching content on their phone, that creating a whole streaming service directed at just watching TV on their phones was going to be a hit. Like, those weren't just the commercials, he actually thought that was a thing everybody would want.

(Sigh, shrugs)

Look, they're either selling everything to Netflix or Hulu in three years or they're gonna ass-backwards this "Youtube-you-pay-for" thing into success, but I think we all essentially knew that wasn't gonna work, at least, in this short term, so I wasn't expecting it on Roku devices. Peacock and HBO Max, yeah, I kinda thought that would be on Roku or Amazon Firesticks.

I've been skeptical of streaming in the past, but it's become an inevitiability and frankly a convenience in these times more then ever, which makes it even a little stranger then it should be that these big new streaming sites are just, not available in a lot of ways.

Well, that's not true. HBO Max is a Premium Service, so even if I had it available on Roku, I'd still have to pay for it, but I should still have the option, right? It's particularly weird with HBO since there are HBO Go, or now just, HBO and HBO Now apps that still do work on Roku.

(Sidenote: As I was writing this, HBO GO was then ended on Roku and most other devices as well, leaving only HBO NOW which is renamed HBO.)  

Also, NBC and several of their associated channel apps are still widely available on Roku. In fact, I kinda just half-assumed that the NBC app would just be replaced by Peacock. I've seen that happen before; my CBS app is now my CBS All-Access app, and other then that CBS All-Access being stupider then Peacock, that's fine. (Yes, I still claim CBS All-Access is still stupid. Link below)


You know, based on that, you'd think I'd be a little more upset at Peacock, wouldn't ya? I mean, NBC's a major broadcasting with several other major cable channels that they could've splattered their "Punky Brewster" reboot on if they wanted to, and they had a stake and have a deal with Hulu still, right?

Ye-yeah, I kinda am, but not really. I mean, yes, there's a lot of stupid with it, especially the fact that they're not even accepting HDMI adaptors to watch their programs...- Campea's right about that, totally stupid, and I don't even like using HDMI's like that, but yeah, whoever thinks that's a good idea at NBC-Universal needs to be fired.

Campea's wrong about Peacock as a name though, I actually think that's a cool name, and it's been NBC's logo forever now, so that's fine to me. Plus, it's not just NBC, it's NBC-Universal, so it's not just NBC's library, it's supposed to be Universal's standout brand app, in much the same way HBO is the brand name for the Premium Cable channel for Warner media. Also, while NBC-Universal does have several, several, and I do mean, several cable channels, one kind of channel that they don't have, is a premium movie channel.  Showtime is run by Viacom, which is CBS, Starz is owned by Lionsgate. MGM, Viacom and Lionsgate have a share of Epix, and Cinemax is actually under HBO and therefore under WarnerMedia.... So, yeah, this is both Universal and NBC's foray essentially into that Premium market, and it's only barely doing that right now.

Peacock, is mostly free, with pay features available, so even then it's kind of an interesting model. Oh, there's still a lot that's stupid about it, but compared to CBS All-Access or even HBO Max to an extent, I'm not as annoyed or frustrated by it. And honestly, I do have to knock my CBS All-Access attack for one thing that, in hindsight I should've been more aware of, and that's the idea that, this was a somewhat obtuse new investment for the major networks, when in reality, it's probably more of a continuation of what they've been doing for decades. And this goes a bit into why these networks think they can control the situations with Roku and Amazon Firestick and try to have a staredown with them.

You see, it's easy to recall the history of cable television as a similar era to the rise of streaming services, especially in the sense that we tend to think of the rise and early days of cable as more of an  independent movement in television, separate from the outstretch reach of the then- Big 3 networks and major studios, if not now, but at least in the origins of these channels, and there is some limited truth to that, but mostly that's a myth.

For most of the major cable channels that have survived in some form to today, after the courts ruled that they were outside the regulation body of the FCC, it was often those same big three and the studios that owned or were associated with them that were behind most of these channels. There were getting in on this new system of television distribution then, and they're doing so now.

I still question these decisions in certain aspects, but I understand it more, even though, you could argue today that it is more independent creators who's run and controlled streaming, moreso then the networks. I mean, Hulu was created by them, and most channels have some form of their streaming service, but Netflix started as an independent network. So was Amazon for that matter, and they're building their own brands and media empires.... So is Youtube, and definitely one or two other major streaming services. My Roku has 800 channels on it, and that's me being selective. (I never know, I might have to look something up that's on some obscure channel one day.) That's why this is a little weird, 'cause they actually are competing against those who aren't, themselves, their regular competition and in some cases, they're getting their asses kicked.

But, they still kinda think, "Roku, Firestick, Apple TV, etc. etc. they're distributors, we're the big guys, if we're not on their service now, their customers will complain enough and eventually we'll be put on there, just like when everybody used to call up and get MTV?"

I mean, they're not entirely wrong, they're cable replacements, I think they're often more equitable cable replacement for most people then Sling and Philo stuff that are actually is trying to replace cable at this point. And both Peacock and HBO Max can exist as a service without Roku, so, I can't say they're entirely in a rush. Also, HBO Max may have fumbled their launch, but a lot of launches have issues in the beginning and eventually they'll figure it out; I trust HBO as a brand enough to believe that they'll be able to do that.

And I disagree with Campea on another thing, that these Premium streaming sites need a new series on them themselves in order to promote themselves need to have an original programming option to entice subscribers; frankly I think that's overrated. I mean, Quibi had a bunch of new shows and they didn't entice shit. Even Netflix didn't begin streaming with "House of Cards" they first introduced the streaming option and once that got popular, they then evolved to original content. It's not having original content, its placing as much content as one can available for streaming, in one singular place, that's the real appeal of these sites.

I also still don't get why streaming in Peacock and HBO Max's case isn't more of an accompaniment to their main channels and not a regular channel in of themselves. Like,I get it if streaming is your prime mode of distribution like Hulu or Netflix and you don't have a regular television channel, although that said, I kinda get it on Disney+ oddly enough. Disney as a brand is distinctive on the kinds of material they put out, but Disney+ can open up that idea to more material, so it makes sense. I mean, HBO is already HBO, I'm not even sure why they bother having a Standards & Practices division, they've always been a premium network that can air anything.

Seriously, think about it, "Get HBO MAX, 'cause we have, "Friends"!" Did you ever think, "We gotta get something because it's apparently not allowed to be on HBO, and think that thing would be episodes of "Friends"!!!!!! Hell, that's what I thought would've been on Peacock, but NBC bungles the rights to everything good they ever air..., but that's another thing. Seriously HBO, ever since you got rid of boxing, you've not been yourself lately. Maybe it's time for that "Real Sex"/"Taxicab Confessions" crossover that we've been waiting for, you know? Get on that for HBO Max and I "might" actually consider asking Roku to get you.

Yeah, I don't think holding up Roku and Amazon Firestick for them to come down to their terms is the wrong idea in theory, but there's not the real demand for Peacock or HBO Max out there. I would like HBO Max and Peacock options on my Roku, but I don't actually need to get them. I've got other  options to watch most programs and movies on HBO and therefore HBO Max, and if I absolutely have to watch something on Peacock, I can watch it on the computer for a bit, and I'm not interested in paying extra on it right now for Premium Peacock, but you know, if Netflix decided to hold up Roku tomorrow, I betcha Roku would come to the table and pony up to them. Or even ESPN, they would be more likely to do that and subscribers for Roku would scream holy hell if that went away.

Now, in the future, I might actually say, "Yeah, Roku's being ridiculous here, they should make a deal, but yeah, clearly right now, Peacock and HBO Max have misplayed the expectations of an audience that they didn't technically have yet.

So what happens now?


Personally, I don't think much. I don't think anybody thinks HBO Max is ultimately gonna fail, nor will Peacock, and even if they do, I don't think it'll be because of this in particular. Eventually either or both of these two will figure it out and give in to Roku, and it's not like either HBO, WarnerMedia, Universal or NBC are gonna go away if either of these fail.


I feel like I keep going to these,  very- what's the word, defeatism perspective on like stuff this lately, existential dread. Perhaps these kind of stories are just more trivial now then ever, in these times, perhaps it's my midlife crisis and I'm acting like the hypochondriac Woody Allen character in "Hannan and Her Sisters", but if this is where we're at, a couple streaming services that not everybody likes or wants are trying to hold up a couple streaming distributions services,... then we're probably fine enough. Honestly, the only reason I'm really caring about this is because we're all streaming everything right now and we're gonna be stuck here for awhile with not much else to do.

And actually, that's what really pisses me off right now about HBO Max and Peacock's inability to strike a deal, because if there was ever a time they could come and take advantage of being on as many streaming sites as possible, this is it. We're all desperate for more streaming content and they're somehow managing to be too exclusive right now?

Like-, look, I actually get their thinking, and I don't even think that under normal circumstances that it's the absolute worst strategy. It still reveals a lot of behind-the-time thinking mixed with incompetence of the people running these sites, but it's calculated, and if it's not, it's so dumbass it could actually work anyway, but right now, when they could probably be doing better then ever with their streaming services...? (Sigh) Guys, just pony up whatever the fees or rights are, whatever the holdup is; you're both already rich, and you'll be making more money then normal for awhile. Even if you don't want it to be permanent, sign a short-term contract and see what happens; if you don't like the deal, back up later, try to get everybody to buy Apple TV or whatever later.

The strategy's dumb for trying to hold Roku and Firestick up, but it doesn't bother me. The streaming sites themselves are dumb concepts, but that doesn't really bother me. Even the fact that months later after launching, this is still a thing, doesn't really bother me. It's the pointlessness of it all though that pisses me off these days.

That's where I'm at right now, and I suspect many of you are at similar places as well, as long as this current pandemic condition continues we'll be streaming something with or without them these services/channels.

I-eh, I don't have a succinct way of ending this commentary, so-eh, here's something I caught while streaming the more obscure Roku channels I have the other week or so; it's the old VCR game, "Clue II: Murder in Disguise"! Enjoy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know this very, very late, but Peacock has been added on Roku about....I think two months ago by now (still hasn't been on Fire Stick yet, but that's why sideloading exists for a reason). And HBO Max has been added to Amazon Fire Stick/TV devices just a month ago (they're close to making an agreement with Roku, Inc.).