Cutting the cord is only going to get more expensive and confusing

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I have to admit that I've been feeling ancient lately at the ripe old age of 37. I've been telling my kids about "the good old days" in the 1980s and how I consumed media during my childhood. I regale them with tales of having to wait until the time each day when my favorite shows came on TV and going to the video store to rent a movie (and subsequently, return them).

My kids - now nearly 6 and 2, live in the age where any show or movie they desire is available at the button push of a Roku remote. When we pop a Disney VHS tape in our VCR, they wince at the thought of waiting for it to rewind before they can start watching. When we travel, they are incensed that we have to flip around the TV dial to see what shows are already in progress -- and can't be skipped backward or forward! Oh, the horror!

Here we are, my friends - the age of convenience. The vast majority of programming we want to watch is at our command, anywhere and everywhere we want. We're no longer bound to linear program schedules, recording capacity or even a physical space where we need to be to enjoy a show. We can call up the whole of a TV series on our phones in the middle of nowhere and stream until the cows come home (or our data plan runs out, whichever comes first). What a time to be alive.

We are also, in all likelihood, the closest we'll ever be to realizing the once-distant dream of having "a la carte" TV choices. For years and years, we've decried rising cable bills and pined for the day when we can pick and choose only the channels we want. With streaming live TV services like Sling and DirecTV Now, we have at least a portion of the equation - smaller channel packages and lower bills.

As much as Sling TV tries to convince you that they offer it, true a la carte TV is still nowhere in sight and likely would never work anyways. Disney commands several dollars per month for ESPN, and they would very much like you to also pony up for Disney Channel and all their other offerings. Even if you solely wanted ESPN - an option that's coming - it's not going to be a buck or two a month, nor will any other singular channel you enjoy. Food Network doesn't stay in business by everyone paying 50 cents a month. They can get more money when you also get HGTV, Travel Channel and all the other channels in the same corporate portfolio.

Streaming is going through a little bit of turbulence right now, especially with Disney announcing that the relatively newly-enacted streaming deal with Netflix will be going away in 2019 in favor of the Mouse House starting up at least one, maybe more dedicated streaming services. So if your household likes Elena of AvalorCaptain America: Civil War and Star Wars, Netflix alone will no longer salve your itch for unlimited streaming -- you'll need to subscribe to at least three different services, in addition to any Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime services you enjoy now.

It used to be that you could, in most cases, find the programming you loved in one place -- your cable box. But as costs continued to rise, people fractured off in search of cheap, on-demand options like Netflix. Now if you have to pay for each content owner's individual service, you may be reaching a similar high cost and finding it harder to navigate your choices.

Our favorite content is becoming more transient as well, which only adds to this frustration. Some streaming services are turning to locking up exclusivity deals to lure customers to their platform, either on a show-by-show basis or for entire networks. Hulu turned my family off of Curious George entirely when they signed a deal to be the exclusive home of said monkey - a show we watched religiously on Netflix for years. Some shows may jump services or disappear entirely as the business of streaming gets shakier. The recent announcement that NBC-Universal comedy streamer Seeso is shutting down sent some shows packing for other platforms while leaving highly-anticipated shows nearing launch now without distribution whatsoever.

It's still too soon to call the age of streaming "over," but it's certainly seeing some rocky times.

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