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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Linked by Dan Moren

Streaming Wars, Episode VII: The Fragmentation Continues

Variety’s Cynthia Littleton:

Starz has joined HBO and Showtime in going over the top with the launch today of a standalone streaming app that also allows users to download most of the available programs.

Starz is offering the app in partnership with Apple and Google. The service costs $8.99 a month, $2 less than Showtime’s $10.99 offering and six dollars below HBO’s monthly pricetag of $14.99.

This is how we slowly descend into madness. The downside is that all the various networks each want a piece of the streaming pie; the upside is that now you have a choice of exactly which pieces of the pie you want…though you may end up paying more than if you’d just bought the pie outright. Mmmm, pie. Where was this metaphor going again?

I’m not particularly sanguine about that choice lasting: no doubt the larger companies will be interested in bundling their various networks together.

Amazon and Hulu both seem to be banking on being the next-generation equivalent of cable companies, since they each offer options to bundle some of these over-the-top services along with their basic subscriptions. (You can add Showtime to either for an additional fee; Starz is also available on Amazon as an add-on.)

Granted, there are still other shoes to drop: neither Microsoft nor Apple have made a serious move in this direction. There have been plenty of rumors about Apple’s interest in a TV streaming service, but the content providers don’t seem to be buying what Apple’s selling—and why should they, when they can go direct to the consumers themselves?