The Major Streaming Services Reviewed
When it launched 2 years ago Peacock looked to be a Comcast-branded version of CBS All Access (Now Paramount+). It promised new original series based on its intellectual properties like Punky Brewster, Saved By The Bell, and a new take on A Brave New World. Along with that, it boasted access to NBC content, Movies from Universal studios, and shows/movies from its cable stations like USA Network and SyFy. Live sports from its existing partnerships with Notre Dame and the NFL and the hoped-for boost of the 2020 Olympic games were meant to be the icing on the cake. As it turned out none of Peacock’s original series at launch or since have taken root in a way that drove subscribers. Since its launch Peacock has begun a major change with its most recent being the pickup of Hallmark movies and the availability of three live feeds from Hallmark’s cable channels. The service is also now home to the WWE Network and live premium events. A move to make current NBC content and Bravo programming exclusive to the service is helping the streamer begin to stand out on its own as an offering and the multi-tier approach is attracting more customers slowly by surely. As it is, it appears that Comcast still views Peacock as a long-term project that will be further realized as more partnerships fall into place and Comcast finds more cable systems to partner with to automatically get their customers on board with their ad-supported offering.
$4.99 with ads $9.99 ad-free
Paramount+ has been with us in some form longer than most streaming services not named Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Starting as CBS All Access the service has since rebranded as Paramount+, which better described the conglomeration between Paramount studio content, CBS, and Viacom’s numerous offerings. The service is a go-to for cord-cutters who want to get easy access to CBS in their local market and the home of among other things the Star Trek film and TV franchise including a number of new original Star Trek series like Star Trek Discovery, Picard and Strange New worlds. The service has been more aggressively marketed with Paramount’s cable station Showtime in order to give subscribers a lot more content without raising the price too much opening subscribers to a lot more movies and premium TV content. With two tiers $4.99 and $9.99 it has shown itself to be rather popular with now over 46 million subscribers. It has built from Star Trek and begun to offer specials from South Park, Bevis and Butthead, and other properties as a way to reach a new audience and can also rest of the laurels of CBS’s popular programming like Ghosts which was the No1 new comedy in the US last season.
$4.99 with ads $9.99 ad-free and includes live CBS for your local market
Hulu has been a lot of things over the years from a partnership between Disney, News Corp, and Comcast to now a Disney-controlled company with Comcast as a soon-to-be former minority owner. The service operates as a home for content from the numerous studios that Disney owns including 20th Century to a host of original content offerings headlined by The Handmaids Tale. Hulu retains archives from NBC, Fox and ABC while also offering content from many other studios. Hulu also offers its own cable replacement service that includes major cable channels and unlimited DVR as well as access to ESPN and Disney+ That offering though is separate from its stand-alone VOD service. Hulu at this point is in a holding pattern of sorts before becoming a wholly owned Disney company. Till then the jury will be out as to exactly what the service will be going forward. Our bet is Disney has some big plans for it.
$7.99 per month or $79.99 per year
Disney+ has changed little since it launched. It started as a service built on its 5 major brands Marvel, Pixar, Disney Studios, Lucas Films/Star Wars and National Geographic. It has stayed very little from that formula over the past three years and since the pandemic complicated filming schedules became a thing of the past has ramped up production of TV shows based on Star Wars and Marvel properties up to 11 allowing the service to sort of overlap releases every month or two. Disney also took the plunge adding parental controls in order to make rated R content like Deadpool and the addition of the Netflix-produced Marvel shows available through the more family-friendly Disney+ instead of dropping the Fox titles on Hulu. The merger with 21st Century Fox Studios and Disney brought more Marvel content that was otherwise unavailable at launch along. Aside from a few key additions like the Broadway smash Hamilton, Disney+ has banked on the appeal of its legacy and top brands. With rising subscriber numbers don’t expect to see Disney+ change course much going forward other than strategically adding specials and select exclusives.
$7.99 per month or $79.00 per year
Boy has Netflix changed since it first hit the scene. What was once the place to find content from every major network, and every major movie studio has become the top producer of streaming original entertainment this side of HBO. Years ago Ried Hastings said he wanted to become HBO before HBO could become Netflix. It looks like he pulled it off. Netlfix is now the industry leader by far when it comes to original programming. It includes hundreds of high-profile standup comedy specials, hit TV shows like The Witcher, Stranger Things, Cobra Kai, Fuller House, House Of Cards, Orange Is The New Black, Dahmer, The Umbrella Academy, and The Crown. The original output was seen by many as a necessary change due to so many studious pulling their content into their own orbits for their own streaming ventures. While Netflix has seen some ups and downs over the years it is still the leader as far as subscriptions world-wide as a stand-alone offering. Some criticize a lot of the original fare but not everything is gonna be a hit. Just ask NBC’s The Cape, HBO’s Carnivale and many other major network shows that lasted a season or less. With an ever growing number of titles both original and through partnerships Netflix is still worth checking out and its new ad-supported tier may well encourage more people to do just that.
- Basic with ads* (available November 2022): $6.99/month
- Basic: $9.99/month
- Standard: $15.49/month
- Premium: $19.99/month
HBO Max launched to better highlight all of the properties owned by Warner Brothers and AT&T moving on from the HBO Now moniker to add Turner’s library of classic movies, shows from TBS and TNT commercial free as well as continue to build on the legacy of HBO and its pipeline of originals and blockbuster movies from its studio partners. Warner Bros has since merged with Discovery Networks and there are plans to launch one all-encompassing app that will combine Discoveryy+ and its massive library of reality-based TV with the more premium selections from HBO Max, but that is still way down the road and honestly might not happen. Home to one of the biggest libraries of critically acclaimed documentaries and original series on the planet HBO Max is still primed to grow its reach with more of a focus on DC Comics properties that could mirror what Disney has done with Marvel. HBO keeps proving itself as a hitmaker. The recent run of the Show House Of Dragon proved to be one of its biggest hits yet and that is saying something considering its past. At $14.99 per month, it is the most expensive service on the market as far as the base price. But it is probably also the most premium of them all.
$14.99 per month
Amazon Prime Video
Prime Video is a built-in feature available to customers who sign up for Amazon’s Prime service. It is one of many perks that also include entry-level Amazon Music, Free Shipping, a free Twitch sub, and Kindle advantages. The service is home to a number of Amazon originals as well as a large library of content from numerous studios. You can find comedy specials, blockbuster hits and old favorite TV shows on the service as well as fall in love with Ms Maisel, Jack Ryan and many others. Amazon also offers live sports through its app including the new exclusive Thursday night NFL football game. The service can also be had on its own for 8.99 per month. Amazon is in a different sort of orbit than its media rivals literally. After all its owner owns a space tourism company. Its streaming offering bases its success on how many people start accounts and buy new stuff after a new show comes out. That means that socks can make or break a new show. If you are one of the millions of people who have Amazon for one reason or another and have never actually signed in to the Prime Video app, you are missing out on a lot of fun stuff.
$8.99 per month or $139.00 per year for the entire Prime package