Channeling My Channel Confusion

So Many Streaming Services. So Many Passwords

Channeling Channel Confusion

So many great programs to watch at home these days, but accessing them is an exercise in channel confusion. Every time I pick something to view, I discover it’s only available on a streaming service we don’t subscribe to.

The problem — and my frustration — is especially acute during the holiday season. It’s either Rudolph this or Mariah that. All the old-time “traditional” channels — those airing CBS, NBC, and ABC — are bursting with holiday cheer. To this I say, “Bah, humbug!” Most holiday programming is an annual exercise in “Been there. Done that.”

I don’t want cheer and mistletoe. I want grit and grime with an occasional dollop of sardonic wit. Yet, after a hard day of gift shopping and over-eating, my viewing desires are thwarted. I pick a film from the list I’ve been curating for months but cannot access it.

We currently subscribe to HBO, Amazon Prime, and Netflix. Handsome Hubby says we also pay for a few other streaming channels/services, but he can’t remember which ones or how to access them. Curse you, complex passwords that only someone with a photographic memory can recall!

“HH, do we have X, Y, and Z video service?” I ask. “I’d love to watch this new release everybody’s raving about.”

HH always says, “Yes;” then struggles for 37 minutes trying to log in. At the 38th minute, he slams down the multi-buttoned, multi-channel programmer and wearily begs, “Now can we watch the Warriors (NBA basketball) play?”

I sign and relent. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just another wasted night of channel confusion.

Who knew watching TV required the security clearance of 007, the programming expertise of a tech guru, and the wallet of the King of England?

In a world awash with streamers, I’m suffering a viewing drought.

Hulu, ATT Now, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, HBO Max, Peacock Quibi, the Criterion Channel, Fandor, Shutter, Acorn, Britbox, Asian Crush, Crunchyroll (which to my disappointment offers anime, not food), Asian Crush, Brown Sugar, Flix Latino … I could list more of them, but my brain is buzzing and my eyes are blurred.

And just because you subscribe to a service doesn’t mean you get easy — or free — access to everything. We recently “bought” two movies on Amazon Prime. HH couldn’t purchase them from the TV. He first tried using his phone; then, his laptop — the two devices he’s trying to avoid after working all day. After responding to three work emails that “could not wait,” he bought the films. But could we then view them? No, no, no. HH is so frustrated with the wasted time and effort, he refuses to try again to get them. Now I’ll never see The Women King with Viola Davis. I should have just gone to the movie theater when it opened.

Even the mainstay TV channels of my childhood now offer streaming services.  There’s CBS All-Access. “Access?” Isn’t that what TV is supposed to be about in the first place? And HBO has a “baby” — HBO Max. I know they resemble each other, but they’re different too. How so, I do not know!

When I was growing up, we had ABC, NBC, and CBS plus one, maybe two, additional channels. Life was simple. Life was good. Just plug in your TV and voila! Cartoons, news, Bonanza, The Fugitive, everything.

Today memory-challenged me need to write down where and what show I’m watching. watching. House of Dragons — is it on HBO, Prime Video or Netflix? What about the Lord of the Rings prequel? Where was I watching that? It’s bad enough I can’t keep the characters straight between those two shows. Now I cannot even find them!

And with so many seasons of a show available at one time, Heaven help you if you lose track of what season you’re on. HH and I watch The Great British Baking Show, but who remembers what year, no less what episode, we’re on? It’s enough to make me binge on bag of stale, store-bought cookies in the pantry.

And while individual streaming services aren’t excess, the costs mount when you keep adding new ones. It’s the old “Ten dollars here. Ten dollars there.” Pretty soon you’re racking up hefty monthly charges for stations you don’t recall ordering. Or programs you watched just once.

Sigh! It makes me long for the good old days when the only TV add-ons needed were Rabbit Ears and aluminum foil.

It’s enough to draw me back to the movie theaters like in the good-old, pre-COVID days. Or I could read. Or just go to sleep — on the couch — in frustration.

📺 📺 📺

And who is the winner in the streaming service world? Netflix with 225 million subscribers worldwide. The next closest competitor is Prime Video with 205 million subscribers.

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