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How the dream of cheap streaming television became a pricey, complicated mess

The Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disneyland in 2017. The company hopes to turn streaming into a shiny promised land. But the platform’s reality is anything but. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg News)
Steven Zeitchik Craig Timberg April 13 at 3:10 PM

BURBANK, Calif. — The dream of cutting the cord on pricey cable TV services went something like this: Consumers could get what they wanted, when they wanted, while saving money because they wouldn’t be paying for expensive bundles of channels they never watched.

Snip, save, enjoy.

But this entertainment nirvana never actually arrived. First came pricey broadband services required to stream Internet video, often delivered by the same cable wires consumers longed to cut. Then came a proliferation of services — offered by Netflix, Amazon, Hulu plus and more — each with a bill of its own. Then came more boxes, wires and remotes.

And finally came the question: How exactly do I get my “Star Wars” fix?

The answer, it became clear with an announcement here at Disney’s Southern California headquarters Thursday night, is that most consumers eventually will need yet another service to stream many of the staples of American entertainment: “Frozen,” the Avengers and, yes, all those “Star Wars” sequels, prequels and spinoffs.

While many of these favorites will remain available on other services for a time, gradually Disney will pull

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