There are a couple things you need to know about live streaming services. The first is that they aren't going to become less expensive over time. That's just not going to happen.
The silver lining to this is that quite often those increases are softened by new content deals. That is, the services add channels — which is exactly the justification used by PlayStation Vue as it raised its prices $5 across the board. It costs money to add channels, and that money has to come from somewhere. And that somewhere is our wallets.
But I've come to a radical conclusion. Perhaps it's one brought on by age, or wisdom, or both. But it is this:
I don't want more channels.
I just want them to not look awful.
I already have more channels than I'd ever be able to watch. But what I don't have is an option for a high-quality stream.
We've talked about this before — how all the bandwidth in the world and all the hardwired connections and how the latest and greatest streaming hardware at home doesn't change the fact that we're still slaves to the source content. If YouTube TV or DirecTV Now or PlayStation Vue or Sling TV — or whomever — is serving up a muddled mess of compressed content, it doesn't matter. That's the ballgame.
And adding more channels to the mess does clear up the picture at all.
That's never been more apparent than during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. I alternated between the Fubo TV feed and using the Fox Sports app, both of which provided 4K streams of the games. I've long said that once you watch sports in 4K you'll never want to go back, and that's more true now than ever.
So it's time to bring the other channels into line. Charge me another $5 or $10 a month. Hell, maybe even more. But I want to actually be able to see dark scenes, not just splotches of compressed blackness that looks like someone went nuts with a pixellation tool in Photoshop. I don't need perfect 4K. I don't need lossless video, which isn't going to happen in a consumer sense for a long, long time, if ever.
And make no mistake — what Fubo TV has been serving up isn't the same kind of 4K you'll get from Netflix or Amazon Fire TV or from an optical disc. Data is data, and better video requires more of it. And it takes money to move that data around.
But I'm willing to pay a little more for it. There's a reason why I don't watch stolen clips on YouTube in 480p resolution like I catch my kids doing because they simply don't know any better yet. (And seriously, YouTube, you really need to do something about allowing that sort of thing on your platform.)
I want better streams of the channels I do watch — not more channels that I'll never actually get to. And I'm willing to open my wallet for it.
Netflix already does this, charging more for its "PREMIUM ULTRA HD" plan. (Editor's note: Netflix doesn't actually put it in all caps, but rest assured that's how it sounds in my brain." A whopping $3 a month more than its (lowercase in my brain) "standard hd" plan.
I'd pay that for a better bitrate on any of the live streaming services in a heartbeat. Wouldn't think twice about it.
And it'd be far more welcome an expense.
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