Whether or not cable companies like it, people are ditching traditional pay TV at speed. 2017 was a dire year for cable companies; it was nothing short of catastrophic for satellite, which dropped 1.7 million subscribers.

So if we accept that traditionally-distributed pay TV bundles are going to die, the obvious question is what replaces them. Right now, you can get a bunch of streaming cable alternatives that cost around $40 per month and do everything cable did, just without the box. That’s fine for now, but as the fat profits from cable disappear, content companies are going to start shopping around for a different model, and what they come up with might not be so nice.

A study from The Diffusion Group, spotted by DSL Reports, suggests that all the major TV companies will have their own direct-to-consumer streaming service available by 2022. That means that rather than paying for one cable bundle, you might get stuck paying Disney $24.99 per month for access to Star Wars and also ESPN, CBS gets $6.99 for its channels, HBO takes its standard $12.99, and, well, you get the idea.

From a financial standpoint, a new system of paying each parent company might make sense for a few people. But just like traditional cable bundles, you’ll likely be left paying more than you want, just to get access to one particular sports channel or on-demand TV show.

That’s without considering the other downside, which is the user-experience side of this. Cable boxes aren’t exactly a masterclass in fine user experience, but using one mediocre remote sure beats having to update six different apps, manage six billing plans, and reset six different passwords once per month. I’m as much of a cheerleader for the demise of cable’s regional monopolies as anyone else, but a future made up of a handful of fragmented streaming services doesn’t sound great either.

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