On-demand streaming services, such as Hulu and Netflix, are growing in popularity, and may even be eclipsing traditional television channels. However, before you cancel your subscription television service, consider some of the pros and cons of video on-demand services.


With the 2018 FIFA Football World Cup well and truly over, we are no longer scheduling activities around the matches, so that we can watch them live and direct! Having said this, in many countries, including those in the Caribbean, streaming and video on-demand platforms, such as YouTube and Netflix, respectively, have gained considerable popularity. It is thus should come as no surprise to find increasingly, households that do not subscribe to the local television channels, or do not have subscription television package, and so get their news, education and entertainment almost exclusively online. What might be some of the benefits and disadvantages of on-demand streaming platforms? We outline a few below.

Pro:  Content available when desired

As the phrase ‘video on demand’, or ‘television on demand’ suggest, programmes that you want to watch are available anytime. Viewing is not limited to a prescribed programme schedule, as occurs with conventional television channels. Further, if needs be, you can binge-watch several movies or episodes, pause a programme and return to it at a later date, or revisit favourite episodes, without any difficulty.

Pro:  Subscription rates tend to be cheaper than for cable

Generally, subscriptions to platforms, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, tend to work out cheaper than a subscription television plan in many countries. Typically, you end up paying at least double for a subscription television package, than one would pay for an on-demand streaming services.

Pro:  Ad-free entertainment

In paying for a video on-demand service, essentially, you are guaranteed no advertisement. With tradition television, a good third of the viewing time tends to be consumed by ads – although you tend to pay considerably more for that service.

Con:  Desired content not be available on your on-demand platform

Depending on the who your on-demand service provider is, it may not carry all of the content you might want to watch. Invariably, many providers curate the content to suit the taste of the majority of their customers. Further, a provider might  not be able to carry content developed by its competitors, although the programmes might be popular, leaving its customers at a disadvantage, or having to make separate arrangements to access that content.

Con:  Desired content might not be accessible in your location

Coupled with the previous con, and has been the experienced across the Caribbean region, some of the television programmes that are accessible in other countries or regions, might not be accessible where you live. The same frequently obtains with regard to on-demand streaming services, as the content is again being curated, but this time with respect to geographic location.

Con:  Popular shows, topical or live content may not be readily available

Frequently, the latest releases of popular shows and breaking news tend not to be readily available on video on-demand platforms. For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime Movies were not the go-to platforms for live World Cup Football coverage. People were relying either on traditional television, such as via their local channels or their cable television service providers, or going directly to the FIFA website, for such content.


In summary and into the foreseeable future, video on-demand is not going anywhere; but neither is traditional television channels/services. Their roles are becoming increasingly distinct, and one does not necessarily cancel the other. On-demand services may be more complementary to our current lives, as content can be enjoyed at any time, and the viewing experience can be customised to suit our individual tastes. On the other hand, the viewing of topical and live content creates a shared experience, along with an opportunity for us to feel more connected to each other, when feelings of isolation increasingly are the norm.


Image credit:  ICT Pulse