It was supposed to be so easy. Television as we knew it was on the way out. For the longest time we'd been held captive by its utterly uncompromising adherence to timeslots and schedules. But in this modern age, its arrogant indifference to our viewing needs and wants had become antiquated.
After all, we're busy people. We've got emails, Facebook and Twitter to keep on top of. We're tagging posts, hashtagging punchlines. We ain't got time to not be watching what we want to be watching when we want to be watching it.
To the rescue then, the internet. Like a nerdy Spartacus it promised to free us from the shackles of the primetime battleground as long as we had fast enough broadband, a large data plan, a quick modem, a decent computer and all the necessary cords, leads and technical know-how with which to escape the ghetto of terrestrial television and embrace online streaming freedom. Log on and tune in, man. Viva la revolution!
Well, that was the idea. Sadly, reality threw an icy bucket of water on to the dream of a one-stop online viewing cornucopia, leaving us shivering wet and spoiled for choice.
There'll soon be four competing streaming providers vying for a slice of your hard-earned buck, as well as a couple of freebie options.
They're all promising to let you watch whatever you want to watch whenever you want to watch it. Unless, of course, one of the other blokes is promising to let you watch it. In which case you won't be able to watch it at all. You dig?
Exclusive rights, co-exclusive rights, exclusive first run rights, non-exclusive limited time co-exclusive second-run broadcast rights ... This is the legalese you'll need to navigate as you attempt to find the service that's right for you.
The online streaming space is so convoluted, so confusing, so constipated you'd be forgiven for shutting down your computer and just turning on your bloody TV.
But to do that is to admit defeat. And the last thing I am is defeatist. I will quit long before I ever admit defeat. So, let's run through who's got what that's worth watching and who hasn't.
I'll start with the freebies, TVNZ On Demand and 3Now, and dismiss them quickly. If you're into watching rank amateurs cook, renovate or warble then you're golden. All eps, all the time. Torture yourself at your convenience.
For everything else they're rubbish, offering only two to four eps of overseas faves. Forget about marathoning through Community in time for its upcoming final sixth season, for example.
For that, you need Lightbox, where you can laugh through four seasons before hitting the wall. After that, back to 3Now where episodes 5, 6, 7 and 8 of season five's 12 episodes are on offer. As for the rest? Dunno. You're out of luck.
This largely sums up the streaming space. Half-seasons here, random episodes there. Accept this and save yourself a lot of irritation. Moving on.
Sky's Neon combines expense with a promise to never screen current episodes of anything, ever. For now, forget about it.
The real battle for online eyeballs is between Lightbox and Netflix. The former has snaffled up great shows like Transparent, Better Call Saul, Vikings and, confusingly, Netflix's own Orange is the New Black, alongside terrific older fare such as 24, Peep Show, Battlestar Galactica and Breaking Bad.
As for Netflix, well, it has assured us it is bringing "thousands of hours" of content but hasn't said much of what that is yet. Disney and Roadshow are locked in and they produce their own killer content such as House of Cards, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, F is for Family and Daredevil - all good stuff. The only snag being that local rights to some of their content are elsewhere, meaning it won't be streaming on Netflix. Yeah ...
Their real ace is that they also offer movies, making for a double whammy of appeal that should be worrying Sky just as much as it is no doubt worrying Lightbox.
Competition between the two has started ferociously and will only get fiercer. Lightbox's parent company, Spark, is offering discount packages if you're a customer - a move which prompted Netflix to team up with rival Vodafone and game console Xbox in a similar offer.
And I reckon it's this, more than anything else, that will be the deciding factor for a lot of people. Because a discount is the one thing out of all this that's easy to understand.
It means there's a good chance that no matter who you go with you'll end up not being able to watch all of what you want. But you'll probably be able to watch some of what you want.
And if you want more than that? Well, then you're on your own.
* Which streaming services are you using? Post your comments below.