Natalie Martini ’21, Managing Editor


So, you want to watch a movie. You check Netflix, but it is not available there. You check Hulu, but you can only access it with an add-on. You finally find it on Amazon Prime Video but it costs $3.99 to rent so now you have to decide if it is worth it to spend $4 on a movie that you will not have access to again after tomorrow. Watching a movie is supposed to be relaxing, so why does the process of finding it feel so exhausting?

It is more difficult than ever to find a streaming service that has the movie you want to watch. Whether you are looking for a new release, or a film from years ago, it never seems to be attainable without cost, no matter how many services you have access to. Viewers’ options are limited when it comes to the availability of films today. It is most likely you have one of these streaming services that you deem to be a reasonable price for monthly payments, and has a fair amount of your favorite TV shows. However, when it comes time to watch a movie, you probably still find yourself spending money to rent or buy it on another service.

Around 2007, according to Britannica, Netflix became the most popular streaming service for movies and continues to be utilized by many, despite the struggles it has faced in the past couple of years. More recently, however, people have found Netflix to be lacking in the ideal TV shows and movies. I found this to be the case myself when it took off fan favorites such as Friends, The Office, and Parks and Recreation in 2020. Changes like this caused many people to delete their account altogether, deciding that it was no longer worth it to pay $9 a month for a service they will barely be using. Netflix used to be viewed as a safe bet when it came to browsing for something to watch. While there is still a fair deal of options, it does feel like they are losing more than they are gaining, recently. Another setback for their popularity has been the fact that their prices recently went up to $14 a month for their standard subscribers and $18 for premium subscribers. While this does not affect anyone with the basic plan, it still may lose them more subscribers than they expect.

With so many shows being taken from Netflix and moved to services like Peacock, this once popular service has been trying to compensate for this loss by adding more Netflix original movies. They have even added original series that have already grown in popularity such as Stranger Things, The Witcher or The Umbrella Academy. Overall, it seems like Netflix features less content created outside of the service, and more content they have created themselves, to appeal to newer viewers. Streaming services move at a faster pace today to keep up with the narrow attention span of a large portion of their audience. We have grown accustomed to binge watching movies and series to the point where we run out of things to watch. This may contribute to the mass release of shows and movies on streaming services such as Netflix, and the rearrangement of so many movies that used to be accessible for free, or otherwise only on DVD.

With newer streaming services growing popular, such as Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and Peacock, it is remotely impossible to stick to any one service. It feels like these services are popping up overnight and trading movies with one another to better fit each platform’s theme. While most people were excited for the launch of Disney+, and it seems like a good idea for a streaming service to hold all relatable content together in one place, it can be frustrating for those who cannot afford to add on a new service. The issue here is, the more services there are, the more dispersed the films are among them, and the more complicated it is for viewers to find the movie or TV show they want to watch. This is how people end up paying for not just one ideal service, but rather a handful of them, negating the convenience that these services were originally intended for.

When I started a Hulu account a few months ago, I only did so because it was the cheapest option of any other service I knew of. At first, I thought it was a great deal as it featured favorites such as Family Guy and other popular shows to binge watch. However, I have been finding that any somewhat popular movie or new release I want to watch is only available through a bundle plan, or add-on. Now when I search for the availability of where to find a movie I want to see, there are services listed that I do not even recognize. It has gotten to the point where I see an advertisement for a really interesting film I want to see and I do not even know where to begin looking for it when it comes time to watch it.

When we see advertisements for these streaming services, they present themselves as the most convenient option for finding our favorite movies. With Amazon Prime Video for instance, we see the variety of movies they include, but when we actually go to search for a particular film on the account, they are more often than not still around $3.99 to rent. While this is not expensive and seems like a pretty good deal, we cannot help but feel disappointed that a service that at first seemed so ideal is still costly if you are someone who frequently watches movies on a screen at home.

While DVD’s are still an option, there is no doubt that streaming services, no matter their price, are a more convenient way to sit back, relax, and enjoy a movie from the comfort of your home. However, with all the changes being made to these services, it can be a frustrating process to find the movie you want to watch now. I have probably spent at least $50 in the past few months just renting movies here and there on iTunes and Amazon Prime, because there was not any one service that offered the films I wanted to see. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I miss the days where streaming services were not so overwhelmingly vast, and would pick their content and stick with it.