Welcome to Tech Support, a segment where I, Dan Howley, serve as your intrepid guide through the sometimes confusing, often frustrating, world of personal technology.
Here, I answer all of your most pressing questions about the various gizmos, gadgets, and services you use in your everyday life.
Now, on to your questions. This week's dilemma:
“What streaming service should I get?”
Just when you thought there were enough streaming video services, another pops up. HBO Max, which launched May 29, is the latest entrant in the streaming wars, and is quite the formidable opponent for the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+.
And don’t look now, but the launch of NBC’s Peacock is just around the corner, set for July 15. Then there are Hulu and Apple TV+, which though not quite as popular as Netflix or Disney+, still offer plenty of content to get you through what’s likely to be a summer without movie theaters and amusement parks for many Americans.
Not sure which service to choose? Let’s take a look at how they stack up in terms of content and price to see what platform is the right fit for you.
Netflix — $8.99 to $15.99 per month
Netflix (NFLX) is the original streaming platform with original programming ranging from “Stranger Things” and “Dear White People” to “BoJack Horseman” and the inimitable “Tiger King,” Netflix is stacked with a wide variety of bingeable content.
Don’t sleep on the service’s movies either. The platform is home to originals including Academy Award-winner “Roma,” as well as “The Irishman,” “Always Be My Maybe,” and a slew of others.
What’s more, Netflix has a dizzying array of third-party content that’s hard to match. It’s currently home to “The Office,” though that will be leaving for NBC’s Peacock service, and in 2021 will get access to “Seinfeld.” There is so much to watch, that it’s easily a must-have streaming option.
Disney+ — $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year
Disney+ (DIS) subscribers get access to the company’s vault of classic Disney movies including “The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Toy Story,” not to mention the company’s Disney Jr. content for children.
Disney also owns “Star Wars” and “Marvel,” giving the company access to some of the most popular, and sought after, media properties in the world. As a result, Disney+ is the only place you can stream movies from either franchise as part of your subscription. You can still purchase them separately through other services, though.
And thanks to its 2019 acquisition of 20th Century Fox, Disney has the rights to classic shows like “The Simpsons,” which is now available to stream in its entirety through Disney+. Disney is still light on original offerings, with “The Mandalorian” it’s lone standout, but the company is expected to roll out a number of series based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe later this year.
HBO Max — $14.99 per month
The new kid at the table, HBO Max (T) launched with a litany of well-known shows and movies at its disposal. The highlight has to be “Friends,” for which HBO parent company WarnerMedia forked over $425 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The service will also be the exclusive streaming platform for “The Big Bang Theory,” which, according to Variety, cost WarnerMedia another $600 million.
Naturally, HBO Max also gives viewers access to all of HBO’s original content including “Westworld,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “The Sopranos.”
On top of that, HBO Max gets content from DC comics including “Shazam,” as well as popular shows like “Rick and Morty,” “Adventure Time,” and “Sesame Street.”
For its originals, HBO Max has a new “Looney Toons” cartoon, as well as new series including “Love Life.”
Amazon Prime Video — Included with Prime or $8.99 per month
Jeff Bezos’ video streaming service Prime Video (AMZN) provides a massive amount of third-party shows and movies including “Parks and Recreation,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and “Downton Abbey,” as well as “Knives Out,” “Creed II,” and “Midsommar.”
Prime Video also has some impressive original series and movies including “The Boys,” “Homecoming,” fan-favorite “Marvelous Ms. Maisel,” and “The Big Sick.”
Hulu — $5.99 per month with ads or $11.99 per month without ads
The Walt Disney Company (DIS) took full control of Hulu in 2019, making it yet another property the company can rely on for streaming revenue. Hulu, however, doesn’t get any Disney classics. Instead, the service includes a number of Fox and FX shows like “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” “Futurama,” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
Hulu also has a line up of solid third-party shows including “Scandal” and Academy Award-winning thriller “Parasite.” Hulu’s originals are also some of the best around, counting among them “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and “Little Fires Everywhere,” and “Castle Rock.”
Apple TV+ — $4.99 per month
Apple TV+ (AAPL) has been running solely on original content since it launched in late 2019, and has had some success with titles like “The Morning Show,” and “The Banker.” The Tom Hanks WWII drama “Greyhound” is set to premiere in July.
The company has long been rumored to be interested in purchasing a movie studio or third-party content of its own to more thoroughly build out its TV and movie offerings, but the company hasn’t made any moves quite yet.
The best service for your money?
Of all of the streaming services out there, Netflix is still the king. It’s got some fierce competition from the likes of Disney+, and HBO Max is coming on strong, but for the sheer volume of content and incredible originals it offers, Netflix is the best streaming service for my money.
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