streaming services

streaming services

Deja View: Ateliere Creative Technologies’ Dan Goman on the Return of the Cable Package Model in Streaming

Deja View: Ateliere Creative Technologies’ Dan Goman on the Return of the Cable Package Model in Streaming

In the past decade, the rise of streaming services has been met with widespread enthusiasm, indicating what many saw as the impending end of traditional cable TV’s cumbersome model. For many, this shift promised freedom from the long-standing complaint of paying for hundreds of unwanted channels, bundled into costly packages. Streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, with their consumer-friendly a la carte offerings, seemed to pave the way for a more customized and satisfying viewing experience. They offered a stark contrast to the inflexible subscriptions that had defined television consumption for generations. 

The evolution from traditional cable to streaming platforms has been dramatic and swift. Cable, once a staple in households, has seen a decline as audiences move towards more tailored, on-demand content. Streaming services initially capitalized on the frustrations with cable, providing fewer ads, no long-term contracts, and the ability to watch anywhere on any device. This flexibility and consumer control were key drivers in the mass migration from cable to streaming.

However, as the landscape of digital streaming becomes more crowded and competitive, there is a noticeable shift back towards the old cable model. The initial promise of streaming—unlimited choice and simple pricing—is gradually giving way to a more complex and bundled offering. Many platforms are beginning to re-aggregate their services into bundled subscriptions to combat subscription fatigue among consumers and to streamline revenue streams.

According to Dan Goman, the CEO of Ateliere Creative Technologies, there has been a noticeable shift recently, with more people cutting the cord and moving away from traditional cable subscriptions at a rapidly increasing rate over the last six to twelve months.

“It’s just been astounding to watch how quickly things moved,” said Goman. “The cable industry is a dead business. I think at this point, it’s likely the cable industry knows this as well, but no one’s going to come out and say it.” 

Dan Goman founded Ateliere Creative Technologies when he recognized the impending transition from traditional broadcast media to streaming and digital formats. Motivated by his vision of a massive industry transformation, he decided to establish a company centered around these changes and developed a media supply chain platform for content workflow optimization, reducing the time and cost associated with content production and distribution that traditionally involved numerous disjointed steps and could be extremely slow and expensive.

As the landscape of media consumption continues to evolve, it’s becoming clear that old habits die hard within the industry. “The only thing that’s happening is a re-creation of that original cable model now on digital streaming. Because that’s what the industry knows, that’s what’s worked,” Goman said. 

Bundles, benefits, and limitations 

Cable began in the 1940s and 1950s, initially intended to improve TV reception in rural areas plagued by weak broadcast signals. However, it quickly evolved into a content distribution platform that could offer channels not available through traditional broadcast networks. By the late 20th century, cable had exploded in popularity, bringing consumers access to premium channels like HBO and ESPN which weren’t available via traditional airwaves.

Cable TV had its advantages. It provided an array of programming choices that included continuous news coverage, extensive sports broadcasting, and a wide variety of entertainment channels covering everything from TV series to movies and educational content. It also catered to niche interests with channels dedicated to specific hobbies like cooking, history, or science fiction. 

However, the cable model also had its shortcomings. Consumers often had to subscribe to expensive bundles filled with channels they didn’t want just to get the few they did. This bundling, along with rising subscription costs, long-term contracts, and inconsistent customer service, contributed to growing viewer dissatisfaction.

“The content industry negotiated deals very shrewdly and forcefully,” Goman said. “To get one popular channel, cable operators were also required to carry about 20 other channels from the same broadcaster—channels that few people wanted but that still generated revenue for the broadcaster. So, if you wanted a channel like ESPN, you also had to pay for a bundle that included 20 to 30 other channels owned by Disney, regardless of whether you watched them or not. This bundling was simply part of the deal.” 

This environment paved the way for the rise of streaming services, which appealed to consumers by offering more control over their viewing experience and a personalized selection of content without the need for cumbersome bundles. Unlike traditional cable subscriptions, streaming services introduced an a la carte model that allowed consumers to select and pay for only the content they wanted to watch, free from the long-term contracts and bundled obligations that had characterized cable.

The return to bundling

However, as streaming services have proliferated, so too have the challenges associated with managing and paying for them. Initially, the allure of streaming was its simplicity and cost-effectiveness compared to traditional cable, but as more platforms entered the market the costs and complexity for consumers began to mount.

The rising prices of standalone streaming services are a significant part of this new dilemma. What began as an affordable alternative to pricey cable packages has seen a gradual increase in subscription fees across the board. Netflix, once celebrated for its low-cost, high-value offering, has raised its prices several times in recent years as it spends more on original content and battles increasing competition. Similarly, other platforms have also hiked their rates, pushing the monthly expenses for multiple subscriptions into the territory once occupied by cable bills.

This increase in costs is coupled with subscription fatigue. Consumers find themselves subscribing to multiple services to access all the content they desire, and managing these subscriptions, remembering what shows are on which service, and deciding which subscriptions are worth keeping can be exhausting.

The landscape of digital streaming has also revealed a paradox in consumer behavior: While users relish the idea of unlimited access to a global library of content for a minimal fee, their willingness to pay for niche services that provide specialized content is surprisingly low. This desire for comprehensive access at rock-bottom prices has led to a challenging environment for smaller, niche streaming channels. These channels, which often focus on specific genres or interests, have struggled to survive in a marketplace dominated by consumers who hesitate to commit even a dollar per month for their offerings. 

As a result, the streaming market has seen a consolidation around a few massive players who can afford to offer extensive libraries subsidized by their large subscriber bases. These industry giants have effectively set the standards for pricing and access, shaping a business model that suits their scale and reach. Dan Goman’s prediction is stark: we might simply cycle back to a system akin to the old cable models, where the illusion of choice masks a reality of limited options governed by high-priced bundles that consolidate many services under a single costly subscription.

“We’ll end up right back where we started, only this time with streaming. There won’t be much choice—it will just be the $100 to $150 digital streaming bundle, and you’ll have to take whatever is included. Everyone has played their fair part in this, but ultimately we’ve given these large players control, and now they will take it wherever they want to go,” Goman said. 

Ultimately, whether this shift is beneficial or detrimental will depend on how well the streaming industry can balance consumer desires for choice and affordability with the economic realities of content production and distribution. As this balance is sought, the industry’s trajectory will likely continue to influence not just how we consume content, but also how content creators will innovate and operate moving forward.