Streaming TV is broken. Come back to satellite.

That’s right, I said it.

I didn’t just beat around the bush like SlashGear or LightReading. Those sites want to warn you about a possible future where practically every program you want will require its own streaming service. You’ll be paying for Disney, CBS, ABC, whatever. You’re going to pay to get the one show you want and then have no patience for finding anything else from that streaming service. But you’ll do it because deep down you’ll think it’s better than paying totally a la carte, buying individual episodes from iTunes or Google or whatever.

I said last week that the future looked messy, and I’m doubling down on that. The streaming future that we’re headed for… looks flat out awful. A gigantic mishmosh of different services, different authentications, different pricing, and you’ll need to remember to cancel every one of them when the one show you want is done. Of course they hope you don’t but let’s be honest. I watch USA for one show a year — Mr. Robot — and the rest of the year I have no idea what they are doing, only that I don’t care. You can bet I won’t be paying all year just to watch that one show.

And live streaming TV… don’t get me started. To be honest, DIRECTV NOW has the best live streaming TV. But some of these services don’t even have a guide! How can you even know what you’ll watch next? Not terribly surprising the worst in this mix is Hulu’s live TV offering. I don’t know who did what to the user interface designers at Hulu, but they simply have no idea how to reach me or how to let me find the content I want.

Here’s what’s going to happen.

Give all this about another 18 months and we’ll reach a tipping point. You think you hate paying $100 a month for TV now? Imagine paying $150, except it’s in the form of 20 different streaming services all charging you $7.50. No idea where anything is, no unified presentation of anything. Sure AppleTV and Roku will try to keep up but with so many apps it’s just going to be a flying mess.

That’s when you’ll think, “If only there was one service which had pretty much every program I wanted, and showed them to me easily. What if that one service also gave me access to maybe 40 different provider apps, let me stream my TV on my phone and gave you full DVR service, even on local channels (of which you had a lot more than what streaming gives you.) That’s going to seem like heaven in about 18 months. And good news… it will be there waiting for you.

What’s that magic service where you pay one bill and get hundreds of different program sources plus a massive selection of live TV and on demand? Satellite TV. It will be there, ready for you, just like it’s there now.

OK, you won’t find Orange is the New Black or The Handmaid’s Tale on Satellite TV, but you’ll find Game of Thrones, Shameless, Black Sails, Mr. Robot, and tons more original programming that’s worth watching. If you need to supplement it with one streaming service I could see that, but satellite TV has the power to replace almost every streaming subscription out there and offer even more. It’s free to start and yes, there’s a contract and I understand that’s a problem for some people. But satellite TV is SOLID. It’s PROVEN. You know when you get started with satellite that it WORKS. The installer won’t leave the house until it does.

By the way, satellite TV doesn’t buffer no matter how many people are watching and on the very rare (about .1% of the time on average) that there is any sort of outage, you can authenticate to pretty much any streaming app FOR FREE or use their app to watch live TV. Talk about a benefit!

I enjoy an evening of streaming as much as any of you, but I think it’s impossible to avoid the idea that it’s broken and getting more broken by the day. There was a time when I could drive down the street and find 10,000 movies to pick from. Then… I couldn’t because Blockbuster’s tragic business model destroyed them. After that there was a time when discs just came in the mail to me and I’d know I preselected them so I would like them. Then… I found myself waiting months for a movie everyone else saw. Now I stream stuff, when I can’t find it on satellite TV. But honestly… that isn’t very often. If streaming went away I’d just go back to satellite and I’d be happier probably.

I know they say it’s the future, but while we all thought streaming TV would be like The Jetsons, it’s beginning to look like The Terminator. (Both things, by the way, are available on satellite for you to watch.)

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.