There is never good news when discussing streaming platforms — at any and every level, at any and every event — at trade conferences, in print, in C-suites, and on Wall Street.

One of the problems is that this new form of content distribution is… well, new, and as such doesn’t have a history to fall back on, or a winning business model to rely upon… yet.

The early success of Netflix can be attributed to its brief monopoly status, but even then the company was only generating losses. Now, with over 200 competing streaming services worldwide (of which 20 are major), their problems are compounding.

Another problem facing streamers is management. For some inexplicable reason top-level executives think that, in order for their streaming services to succeed, they have to kill all other forms of content distribution. Alas, this thought process is not unusual. Let’s look back at how Hollywood fought the introduction of video tape recording, and before that how movie theaters battled television. Naturally, the new technologies were embraced over the years and made their detractors richer, but apparently these historical details seem to be missing from streaming executives’ narratives.

This is possibly due to the early excitement that Wall Street speculators experienced when they first learned of this magical “Direct-to-Consumer” Holy Grail. Back then, it seemed like just adding a “plus” sign after a streaming content-delivery brand would magically open the vaults of wealthy speculators — no question asked!

So what’s the solution for these problems? As journalists and notorious “know-it-alls,” we at VideoAge‘s Water Cooler would like to offer some advice: Go “Back to the Future” with proven models, like producing content with some sort of back-end for the creative community. Use broadcast television (both domestically and internationally) as test sites for new content. Utilize new over-the-air distribution technology (like ATSC 3.0 in the U.S. and similar standards elsewhere). Have a sort-of Upfronts wherein consumers are provided with an advanced schedule of new series. And don’t try to annihilate each other. Cable TV channels prospered over the years despite their increasing number. Streaming services could do the same without outspending each other out of business.

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