What You’ll Learn…
- Some fun facts about Exstreamist.com founder Rob Toledo, including his favorite watering holes in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood and how he managed to turn binge-watching Netflix into a career.
- How streaming is changing the landscape of entertainment for cable companies, content providers, and customers.
- Toledo’s thoughts on working from home, why he decided to recently renovate his home, some streaming-based lightning-round questions, and Toledo’s greatest hopes and fears for Seattle moving forward.
A resident of northeast Seattle since 2012, Rob Toledo has been immersed in a world that is constantly in flux when it comes to technology. Hailing from the Wedgwood neighborhood, Toledo has a few areas he loves to frequent, including the Wedgwood Ale House & Cafe, Wedgwood Broiler, and the Fiddler’s Inn. When Toledo is not relaxing or watching a game at these spots, he is hard at work on his most current and popular venture, Exstreamist.com.
Fans of particular streaming sites, or those who are interested in learning more about streaming, can visit this site for an in-depth look at the latest stories, uploads, and services that offer their favorite TV shows and movies. It originally began as a site called the Best of Netflix, focusing exclusively on the incredibly popular streaming service. However, it has since expanded to include sites like Hulu, Sling TV, and DIRECTV NOW, among others. With streaming becoming an increasingly talked-about topic, Toledo notes that there are many sites (like the New York Times) that the Exstreamist must try to keep up with now. However, he still enjoys the work immensely and jokes that he can now refer to his habit of binge-watching as “doing research” (and there is certainly a lot of research that can be done!).
According to Toledo, new studies have shown that about 5-15% of people who once paid for cable are now considered “cord-cutters” and an even larger number of younger people are being referred to as “cord-nevers,” people who have always enjoyed their entertainment exclusively through streaming sites. This is a big worry for cable companies, which is why they are so willing to offer massive deals to customers who wish to cancel their cable services (so if you want a good deal on cable, just claim that you want to cancel!).
The only caveat that holds many people back from pursuing streaming exclusively, according to Toledo, is the absence of live sports. There is a recent push for many cable companies to offer streaming-only options with live sports options, which is where services like Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW come into play. There is also a rebirth of the old-school antenna option, which offers broadcast channels for as little as $15 (the cost of the antenna). While this option is surprising to millennials who have never dealt with an antenna option, it is certainly still much more feasible than traditional cable.
The real kickoff to the streaming service boom began many years ago with the birth of Netflix. What many don’t know is that Netflix actually started as two separate entities: Netflix and Qwikster; one provided streaming, while the other (more popular one at the time) offered DVD rentals. According to Toledo, when content providers started noticing a drop in their DVD sales, Netflix reached out to them and offered to put some content on its streaming service, bringing in more revenue for the providers.
This was alright with many companies when Netflix was a small fish in a big pond; however, now that Netflix has grown into a massive service, many providers are revoking their content in an attempt to either receive more money from Netflix or to place the content on their own personal streaming services. Netflix itself is also beginning to make riskier choices, like funneling millions of dollars into comedy specials and paying Hollywood-style amounts of money for original movies. It’s clear that Netflix is looking to make a big splash and isn’t going away anytime soon.
While Netflix is certainly the most popular and most widely-used of all streaming sites, there are others that definitely seem to hold their own in Toledo’s eyes. For example, he notes that Amazon’s streaming service probably has one of the best libraries of any streaming service around, with access to older HBO shows for no extra cost. Toledo believes that Amazon’s only issue is that it doesn’t market this service very well and is reluctant to play nice with a lot of companies due to its desire to sell its own hardware (like the Fire TV stick, Fire TV, etc.). While he thinks that more people will begin engaging with services like Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW in the future, he does note that it is rather cost-prohibitive, as you are paying less than for cable, but you are also getting less in terms of quality. Toledo also mentions that even sites like YouTube and Facebook are attempting to get in on streaming and that everyone is just trying to see if they can get a bite out of this popular trend before it’s too late.
As issues like net neutrality make their rounds through the news, Toledo believes that the ones who will benefit the most from this are the cable companies, for they can start offering special packages that allow customers access to more content. Speaking of access to content, Toledo also discusses a bit about Netflix’s shrinking library of shows and movies (they used to have 12,000 titles in the U.S. and are now down below 5,000) and content rights in different countries, noting that Netflix has to go to each country to gain rights to particular shows and movies, so the library of content is different depending on where you are in the world. He also talks a bit about favorite shows and movies of his on streaming sites, including the Golden Globe winning Handmaid’s Tale and Crashing on HBO.
Switching gears to his home life, Toledo talks a bit about his adjustment to working from home and his family’s recent decision to renovate their home. He jokes that he didn’t realize how much he would miss social interaction until he began working from home, so even simple things like physical therapy appointments are exciting for him. Living in Wedgwood, it’s no surprise that Toledo and his family made the decision to renovate their home, as it seems to be happening a lot in the neighborhood. He notes that he and is wife, with a baby on the way, decided to think ahead for planning a larger family and it just made more sense to expand now rather than panic and have to find a new place to live down the line (though he does recommend against living in your home during renovations—it’s definitely a better idea to find a temporary living space!).
At the end of the episode, Toledo answers some streaming-related lightning-round questions, including offering his thoughts on Amazon’s recent purchase of the Lord of the Rings series, his love of the Marvel catalog of shows on Netflix, what streaming service he personally prefers, and more. Finally, Toledo speaks to his hopes and fears for Seattle’s future. He touts the city as an entrepreneurial hub, a “Silicon Valley 2.0,” if you will, but hopefully one without all of the problems that San Francisco is currently experiencing. He fears that in Seattle’s massive growth and increase in wealth, some people are being left behind and being forced either into homelessness or into other neighborhoods. He discusses the mind-set shift that will need to happen if the city wants to continue to grow, as there is just not enough space to support Seattle’s single-family model for much longer. Indeed, from the digital world to the physical world, things are always changing. If you’re ready to embrace that change, but don’t know where to begin, head over to Exstreamist.com and let Toledo introduce you to a new world of entertainment.
About the Interviewee
Rob Toledo is the founder and editor-in-chief of Exstreamist.com, a Seattle-based digital streaming news website. He also runs the travel data website, ChampionTraveler.com, as well as the sports data website, SportFacts.org. He currently resides in northeast Seattle, in the Wedgwood neighborhood, with his wife. You can follow Toledo on Twitter @stentontoledo.