The same word from our same sponsor

In this transition period, as cable gives way to streaming, there’s a hiccup that can be really annoying to the individual viewer.

John I. Carney
3 min readMay 20, 2022

Tiia Monto, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

The recent upfront presentations to advertisers included a lot of mention of streaming services. When Netflix first changed the way the world watches television, its ad-free presentation was one of its selling points. But as streaming services have proliferated, it’s become the case that you can’t afford to subscribe to all of the paid services at once. Some people bounce back and forth — they will pick up Hulu to see the new season of some hot show, then cancel it to make room in the budget for Paramount+, or HBO Max, or what have you, when the next hot show comes along.

Many of the streaming services have now added less-expensive, ad-supported options, and others are planning to do so soon. Their hope is that instead of snagging you for three months out of the year on their full-price service, they can get you 12 months of the year on a cheaper, ad-supported version, which would be more stable and predictable income for them.

In addition, there are many streaming options that are entirely ad-supported, such as Pluto TV. I love Pluto TV. I’m a big fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its offshoot, RiffTrax. Each of them has a dedicated channel on Pluto TV. In addition, Shout! Factory TV has a dedicated, 24/7 MST3K channel (which occasionally shows RiffTrax projects, as well as The Film Crew and Cinematic Titanic). I often leave some form of MST3K or RiffTrax playing in the background in my apartment, whether I’m watching closely or not.

But this leads me to my point. While services like Pluto TV have been ramping up their advertising sales, they don’t have as deep a client list as traditional cable channels — yet. We all know where the train is headed, and I’m sure advertisers will shift more and more of their business from cable to streaming as time goes on and more people cut the cord.

Right now, though, the downside is that advertising on linear streaming services like Pluto TV or Shout! Factory can become really, really repetitive, to the point of annoyance.

John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at