Remember the old days of curling up with someone's parents' HBO password to watch the latest Game of Thrones?
Times sure have changed: Now, that's just one of dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of high-quality, premium shows available on demand, all for a few bucks a month.
Between Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) , Hulu, Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) Prime Video, HBO Go, YouTube TV (GOOGL - Get Report) , and soon Disney+ (DIS - Get Report) and Apple (AAPL - Get Report) TV+, consumers have more choice than ever in direct-to-consumer entertainment. The options for entertainment are so plentiful that for many TV fans, it's becoming too much of a good thing.
"I plan to subscribe to the new challengers if they have content I want and if it is easy to unsubscribe when I'm done," said Arnold Valentino, a 36-year-old in the Bay Area who currently subscribes to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. "I've tried different services or apps to keep track of the content I want to watch but so far, it only leads to anxiety and [fear of missing out], which ends up with me not watching most of the content I want to watch. Basically, I feel overwhelmed with all the new, and mostly great, content we have access to."
There's even a bumper crop of new services to help consumers manage content overload. One such service is Reelgood, which helps people manage subscription services from one access point. Founder David Sanderson said the idea originated out of his own frustration with juggling multiple apps for entertainment.
"I thought, I'm having this problem every single night where I only had an hour to watch something, but I was spending half of that time just figuring out what to watch," he said.
And the idea clearly resonated: Around a year and a half after launching the service, he said, it has millions of users that use Reelgood to queue up shows across multiple streams, and browse shows, among other features.
Inevitably, as the costs of subscribing to multiple services starts creeping up towards the cost of a cable TV package, some will wind up on the cutting room floor of people's entertainment budgets.
The question is, which ones?
"The bottom line is, consumers have a lot of choice right now and they're going to have even more -- it's really a matter of: What's my spending limit going to be, and across how many services?" said streaming media analyst Dan Rayburn.
At least two of the forthcoming services, Apple TV+ and AT&T's (T - Get Report) WarnerMedia service due out later this year, haven't announced prices yet. But the Disney+ announcement shed light on how much more complex the field for streaming is getting, and how multiple winners with different selling points could emerge.
Analysts speculate that the $6.99 per month, kid-friendly Disney+ package will wind up complementing, rather than directly competing with, Netflix. That was emphasized by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on a recent earnings call, where he made the case that Disney and Apple will help accelerate the market for everyone, making Netflix one of many beneficiaries of continued cord-cutting worldwide.
According to Neil Begley, an analyst at Moody's, it may be a stretch tho posit that the arrival of Disney+ will be a good thing for Netflix's subscriber counts. But, he added, multiple services will coexist in the majority of households, depending on content tastes.
"Our view is that most households will have two to four of the services as a foundation -- there might be certain preferences, and people might swap them in and out," he said. "I do think that Netflix will likely be one part of that foundation, and Disney will be another."As for who the others might be -- and with Apple's TV+, WarnerMedia and others coming to market later this year -- as they say, the plot thickens.