Watch out pocketbooks! The streaming services war is on and 2020 will only see it get bigger (and possibly better). What started out as an alternative to cable and satellite TV has now turned into an all-out battle for the consumer dollar.
Handling Increased Demand
It’s March 15 and the world is slowly going into lockdown as people everywhere are being asked (and in many cases being forced) to stay home. When you can’t leave your house that means you’re likely to spend a lot more time than normal on the internet, and using high-usage products like streaming apps. Worldwide internet demand is about to spike in a way it never has before.
It’s already happening in Italy, where the country has been in lockdown for several days. There they’ve seen a 30% increase in demand during peak-hour internet traffic. So far they seem to be handling it. Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare says they’ve seen no sign of web speed slowing in Italy yet.
Yet as more and more of the world, and particularly the US, ends up stuck at home, can our internet infrastructure handle our sudden increased thirst for content and video chat, or will it fold under the pressure? In the United States at least, there’s reason to think it’ll be alright… maybe?
Speaking to the AP, infrastructure expert Paul Vixie says, “The core of the network is massively over-provisioned.” That’s tech-speak for, we have the capacity to handle a lot more internet traffic than we do now.
But could we still top out? Apparently one of the biggest data users is video conferencing, and as more people work from home they’re expecting a big spike in video conferencing usage. It may end up that some businesses will just have to settle for audio only connections, instead of using video. And that’s likely to be the worst of it.
Don’t worry everyone, you won’t have to read a book while you’re locked in your home. Netflix and all the others will be up and running.
Streaming Internet Service
Before you can start streaming with any of the streaming services below, you’ll need a good internet provider. Or at least one you can afford. In the case of Comcast, they definitely fall in the category of the latter.
But as concerns over the Coronavirus are forcing more and more people simply to stay home, the internet giant has decided to help out by offering free internet serivce to the people who need it the most.
Comcast is now offering free internet service for the first 60-days. After which, they also offer extreme low-cost plans for low-income families. Those plans are usually bottom-tier and they call them “Internet Essentials” plans. Right now they’re going to cost around $9.95 a month.
The best news here is that in addition to providing low cost and no cost options, Comcast is also speeding up the service on these lower tier plans. Data speeds on Internet Essentials packages have been increased from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps. Those new, faster data speeds will automatically be rolled out for existing customers as well as applying them to newer ones. New customers won’t be required to sign up for contracts and will receive the necessary equipment free of charge without any shipping fees.
Here’s Comcast full statement on what they’re doing to help people deal with the difficulties of the Coronavirus…
“As our country continues to manage the COVID-19 emergency, we recognize that our company plays an important role in helping our customers stay connected – to their families, their workplaces, their schools, and the latest information about the virus – through the Internet.
We also know that for millions of low-income Americans who don’t have Internet service at home, this uncertain time is going to be even more difficult to manage. As schools and businesses close and families are encouraged, or even mandated, to stay home, Internet connectivity becomes even more important.”
A Complete Guide To Every Content Streaming Service
There are many pros and cons to these streaming services and in this all-knowing, all-seeing streaming service guide, we will try to expertly maneuver through the streaming minefield and let you know where you can get the most bang for your buck. There is no right or wrong answer here, only what your wallet can handle and the content that will float your boat. So as not to favor one or the other, we are going to present these in alphabetical order and let you decide.
Acorn TV [get it]
If you are a fan of British TV, then Acorn TV is for you. They offer TV dramas, comedies and mysteries. According to AMC, the streaming service’s parent company, Acorn TV now has over one million subscribers. They offer plenty of original content such as Jack Irish, an Australian noir thriller starring Guy Pierce (LA Confidential) and many more British favorites.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $5.99 monthly or a full year for $59.99
Amazon Prime Video [get it]
Amazon Prime is the popular service offered by the giant Amazon, which includes free shipping of products ordered through their store. But along with that membership comes Amazon Prime Video, the streaming service that has a whole lot to offer.
The Expanse, the sci-fi epic, has been picked up by Amazon with the hit The Boys back for season 2 and the new mystery series The Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts. Also on deck for Prime Video is the Lord of the Rings prequel as well as Jordan Peele’s The Hunt. Prime also includes The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and exclusive series such as Downton Abbey and The Americans. They have a vast library sure to satisfy their customers.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $13.99 per month which includes the free Amazon shipping or a video-only option for $9.99 a month
Apple TV+ [get it]
New to the world of streaming services, Apple TV+ is up and streaming. The drawback to their service upon launch is that their content is very limited. Appe TV+ only launched with nine new original shows and their catalog is not deep.
But what they lack in quantity, they hope to make up with quality. The Morning Show, starring Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, and Reese Witherspoon has already been well received. Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard also star in the post-apocalypse story See.
Apple is banking on the future as they build their library. The star power of their soon to debut shows is impressive. Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories is getting a reboot, director J.J. Abrams is bring Little Voices to the service, a story about an up-and-coming singer. M. Night Shyamalan is offering a psychological thriller titled Servant and even Oprah Winfrey is getting in on the act with a series of documentaries.
One of the biggest pieces of news coming from Apple is that for the first time, customers won’t need an Apple device to watch Apple TV+. On top of it already being installed on Apple products, it is also available on select Samsung Smart TV’s and will be available in the near future on LG, Roku, Vizio, Sony, and Amazon Fire TV.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $5 per month
AT&T WatchTV [get it]
AT&T is going through a rebranding period as it is pulling in Direct TV and its services. AT&T WatchTV is a live TV streamer that offers its customers 35 Channels without a whole lot of frills. The ability to use this streaming service on an actual TV with a Fire TV device or Apple TV as well as tablets and phones is a bonus. It doesn’t offer local channels but has a nice selection of live channels that include CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies and TNT. It also offers over 15,000 movies and TV shows on demand.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $15 per month; AT&T Unlimited and Unlimited Premium wireless subscribers get it for free
BritBox [get it]
Another streaming service for fans of British TV. BritBox is a joint venture between the BBC and ITV and features exclusively British programming. BritBox gives it customers popular shows such as Coronation Street, EastEnders, and Antiques Roadshow. It also shows older classic episodes of Dr. Who.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $7 per month or $70 per year
CBS All-Access [get it]
If you are a fan of CBS shows, then this is your streaming service. All Access is just that. Access to everything CBS has. Not only shows from the past but current shows and their original program, created exclusively for CBS All Access. With CBS recently extending their deal with the NFL through 2022, you will have access to the CBS NFL schedule. You will also now be able to stream games on your mobile devices with All Access.
Their original programming is quite attractive too with Star Trek: Picard set to premiere soon. Also on board is the popular Why Women Kill as well as The Good Fight, Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone, the creepy Tell Me A Story and a mini-series event Stephen King fans can’t wait for, The Stand.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $6 month with ads; $10 ad-free
Criterion Channel [get it]
If you are into classic movies, art pieces, international films or independent movies, then the Criterion Channel is for you. The Criterion Channel came about after WarnerMedia shut down the streaming service FilmStruck and the two struck a deal for the Criterion Channel to work alongside WarnerMedia.
At the present moment, the Criterion Channel offers a wide range of Hollywood selections as well as Criterion’s library of over 1,000 films. The deal that was struck between the two includes a new WarnerMedia streaming service that will premiere later in the year that will also showcase the Criterion library.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $11 per month or $100 per year
DC Universe [get it]
This streaming service offers DC fans all it can handle in the form of DC properties. The Universe includes a mixture of original programming, classic tv shows, shorts and specials, digital comic books and even a daily news show. There are movies from the DC library as well as a community area where subscribers can connect with others and access to exclusive merchandise available to members only.
Among the originals DC offers are Doom Patrol, Titans, and the short-lived Swamp Thing. A Harley Quinn series is expected to roll out in the fall.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $8 per month or $75 per year
There is no set premiere date for this new streaming service though it is expected to have a 2020 launch. The partnership intends to offer a service focusing on natural history and factual programs. They expect to show the popular Discovery series such as Planet Earth, Life, Dynasties, MythBusters, Deadliest Catch and the ever-popular Shark Week. BBC will be offering its large slate of programming as well.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | While no price has been set, they expect it to go for less than $5 a month
Disney+ [get it]
- The Best Shows On Disney Plus
- Every New Show Still Coming To Disney Plus
- The Best Movies On Disney Plus Right Now
The Biggie. Disney rocked it in November of 2019 when its streaming service went online. It was an immediate hit as it also premiered on day one The Mandalorian, a Star Wars series that fans all over the world were lining up to watch.
Disney+ also offered more original programming as well as films from their vault, the classic Disney movies everyone old and young adore. Not only does Disney+ offer their Disney and Pixar collections, but the recent purchase of Fox has also opened up the Disney movie library to a much larger degree. Disney also has Marvel under its wing for lovers of superhero content and they also offer National Geographic shows as well.
Disney+ will continue to produce a number of original movies and series with 10 films and 25 series in just the first year alone. You can stream Disney+ by itself or bundle it with ESPN+ and Hulu.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $7 per month, $70 per year or Disney+ Bundle for $13 per month.
ESPN+ [get it]
The sports network decided to get in on the streaming industry. ESPN now offers its service that now includes the NFL, NBA, NHL, UFC and a slew of original programming which includes their wonderful series 30 for 30. They also offer many college football and basketball games and various other sports that are sure to grab the interest of sports enthusiasts across the country.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $5 per month or $50 per year or bundle in with Disney+
FuboTV [get it]
This streaming service is more like a cable service when you get right down to it, but has a lot to offer, especially if you are into sports. You will get CBS, Fox, and NBC (sorry ABC/ESPN lovers). Fubo also offers TBS and TNT as well as NBA, NHL, MLB, and the PGA. There is also a nice selection of regional sports channels for local team entertainment. But as this is a streaming service that offers MANY channels, the price is much steeper than most of the others.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $55 per month for the base package, $80 per month for the Ultra package
HBO Max [get it]
Here is the lineup for the new streaming service expected to roll out in May 2020. HBO, Warner Brothers, CNN, DC Entertainment, TBS, TNT, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, The CW, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes, Crunchyroll and more. Over 10,000 hours of content will be coming to HBO Max. The new streaming service also plans to roll in HBO Go and HBO Now content that includes all the HBO original programming.
This is a major player getting ready to hit the streaming service realm and making it more exciting is that it will be taking over the TV series Friends. The Netflix contract ends this year and WarnerMedia has snagged it.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $15 per month
HBO Now [get it]
The soon-to-be little sister to the giant HBO Max, its future may be in jeopardy as HBO Max just may pull in HBO Now and make it disappear. For the moment, at least until the HBO Max launch in May, HBO Now offers all that the HBO cable channel offers, the series, movies, specials and documentaries.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $15 per month
Hulu [get it]
Disney has done it again. This time, with their purchase of Hulu, they can offer subscribers content you couldn’t see on Disney+. Edgier material. And live TV. That is one of the draws to Hulu, besides some of the amazing original programming, they offer live TV. Current shows from Fox, ABC, and NBC can be seen on Hulu with older CBS shows available also.
Original programming includes among others Ramy, The Act, Endlings, The Handmaid’s Tale and Stephen King’s Castle Rock. Hulu offers a variety of new shows, old shows, classic and current movies.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $6 per month with ads, $12 per month without or bundle with Disney+
Hulu + Live TV [get it]
Everything described above with the ability to watch live and local TV. It includes all the network channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX) plus some great cable channels and sports channels such as ESPN, CBS Sports, and Fox Sports as well as some regional sports channels.
Pricing has changed significantly with all that Hulu offers to make sure to check what the pricing levels include.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $55 per month with add ons
Netflix [get it]
The “old” guard is still at it. Standing strong amongst the major competition, one of the OG streaming services still has got some kick. Leaning more and more on original material, Netflix is still the king of binge-watching. Its movie library is still impressive and its list of original series is binge-worthy.
Great news for Netflixers. In 2021 they will be bringing back Seinfeld, all 180 episodes, as Netflix snagged it on a five-year deal. Guillermo Del Toro will soon begin production on his stop motion musical Pinocchio, a feature film for Netflix. The streaming service looks to pump a lot of money into its productions as it tries to fend off serious competition.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $9 for standard-def, $13 for high-def and $16 for 4k
Peacock [get it]
This brand-new streaming service from NBC, the peacock network, won’t be available until the middle of summer 2020. The service will bring its customers access to all NBC has to offer, though there is a catch to it.
There are three different pricing structures that limit what you have access to. There is the Peacock Free, which comes with limiting programming. There is an ad-supported complete package that is free for Comcast and Cox cable customers but will cost $5 for everyone else. There is also an ad-free package that will cost everyone $10 a month. Comcast and Cox cable will pay $5 for the ad-free version.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | Free for limited programming, $5 for ad-supported and $10 for ad-free
Philo [get it]
Don’t care about sports? Aren’t worried about the locals or big networks such as NBC, CBS or ABC? Then Philo is for you. Specialty cable channels seem to be Philo’s forte with A&E, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Food Network and Lifetime among the 58 channels this streaming service offers.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $20 per month for 58 channels; add-on channel packs $4 extra
Quibi [get it]
Quibi is a streaming service with the stated goal of delivering “movie-quality shows designed for your phone”. What that means, apparently, is that their programming will be displayed in portrait mode instead of landscape mode, so it fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.
Sound weird? Maybe, but they have a lot of money behind them and they’re launching with some big name titles. The biggest of which is The Fugitive. They’re remaking the classic TV show (which was even more famous as a movie) and they have Kiefer Sutherland to star. Here’s the first trailer and it looks like a pretty big-budget action series…
It’s interesting that even though Quibi claims to be producing content designed for your phone on their website, the first trailer for The Fugitive is not actually in portrait mode.
Quibi launches its service on April 6, 2020. They’re allowing pre-orders of the app on their website now.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | Currently unknown
Showtime [get it]
Much like HBO, Showtime is trying their hand at streaming. Also, like HBO, Showtime is offering its library of movies, but is trying to lean on a number of Showtime Originals. Billions, The Affair and Homeland are a few of the originals Showtime has to offer. Unfortunately, a new series starring Daniel Craig has been delayed as he had to reprise his role as James Bond.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $11 per month; $9 per month of purchased through other services such as Hulu
Sling TV [get it]
This streaming service is similar to a cable set up in that it offers channels instead of separate shows. It comes in three-tier packages and brings you channels like ABC, Fox and NBC as well as Disney Channel, ESPN, A&E, and the Food Network. Sling offers “extra” packages as well, Kids, Sports, Lifestyle, Comedy and News extras at an extra cost.
During the Coronavirus outbreak, Sling TV is offering free streaming to help people get through being stuck in quarantine. On Wednesday March 18, 2020 they launched a new program called “Stay in & SLING!” which will allow you to use their service without needing to subscribe. To try their special promotion GO HERE.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | Sling Orange is $25 per month, Sling Blue is $25 per month and combined Orange-Blue is $40 per month. Add-ons cost $5-10 extra per month
Starz [get it]
Similar to HBO and Showtime, Starz can be streamed without having to purchase a cable package. Starz offers a nice selection of movies as well as Starz originals. These include American Gods, Outlander, Power, and The Spanish Princess. The channel recently acquired In The Long Run, a family comedy from Idris Elba about his life growing up in London in the ‘80s.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $9 per month
YouTube TV [get it]
This streaming service keeps expanding and becoming more and more attractive. Customers have access to over 70 channels that include the major networks ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX. It also offers a nice selection of popular channels like ESPN, USA, Turner, National Geographic, Fox Sports, MSNBC and some regional sports. They also just recently added PBS and PBS Kids. Customers will also have access to the YouTube Red channel at no extra cost.
STREAMING SERVICE COST | $50 per month
Stream It All
What if one or two services just isn’t enough? What if you want it all? We’ve totalled up the cost of every single streaming service available on this list. We assumed you’ll want the high-def, ad free versions when they’re available (because why wouldn’t you) and here’s what we came up with…
It would cost $396.98 a month to subscribe to every streaming service in existence. That works out to $4763.76 a year.
Luckily, you probably won’t want all of them. So let’s assume you just want to subscribe to all the biggest name ones: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, AppleTV Plus, CBS All-Access, Disney Plus, ESPN+, HBO Max, Peacock, Showtime, Starz, and YouTubeTV. That would run you $163.99 a month or $1967.88.
You could reduce that cost a little with bundling or by dropping YouTube TV (which costs $55 a month for some insane reason), but you’re still looking at a hefty price point, one that’s nearly the equivalent of what you’re already paying for quality digital cable.
Still, it’s probably worth it, especially if you’re ditching cable in favor of streaming since, in most cases, you can stream ad-free or with limited ad interference. Choose what you want, when you want. Happy streaming.
Is Streaming Killing Movie Theaters?
The rising popularity of streaming may be cutting heavily into Cable TV numbers, but is it killing movie theaters too? You might think the ability to watch literally anything your living room would keep people from getting in their car and driving somewhere to pay high-ticket prices… but it isn’t.
According to a new study commissioned by the National Association of Theater Owners, streaming is having no impact at all on movie theater attendance. The study was conducted by QUEST group and the used a sample size consisting of 2,015 people who had seen at least on movie in a theater in the last year, and an additional 505 people who had not seen one.
The results of their study show that people who stream content on any service, no matter which service or what combination of services they use, still go see movies in movie theaters. In the survey these kinds of people are called “dual-consumers”.
In fact, people who go to movie theaters are even more likely to stream more content than people who don’t attend movies. The study shows that the more someone visits a movie theater, the more hours they spend streaming content at home. Of those who didn’t attend a movie theater in the last year, 47% of them also did not stream any content at all.
Basically if you like watching content, you watch as much of it as you can wherever it is, and if you don’t like watching content… you don’t watch it no matter where it’s playing.
Who’s Winning The Streaming War?
Obviously Netflix is the most used streaming service in the United States, but believe it or not, they aren’t the fastest growing service. No, it isn’t Disney Plus either. According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s AppleTV+.
AppleTV+ debuted on November 1 of 2019 and in the months of November and December it saw more than 33.6 million people describe. By comparison Disney+, which launched around the same time, added only 23.2 million subscribers. Disney owned Hulu came closer, but still under, with 31.8 million new subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Those numbers are particularly surprising when you consider how little original content there actually is on AppleTV+. The streaming service has only a handful of high-profile shows, some of which aren’t even getting good audience scores. Meanwhile the service only plans to invest $6 billion in original content over the next couple of years. By comparison, Netflix plans to spend around $20 billion A YEAR on original content.
So why are so many people jumping on AppleTV+? It’s free. Or at least it’s free to anyone who buys a new Apple device. Recently purchased Apple devices come with a free one-year subscription to AppleTV+. How many of those people will renew when it comes time to pay? We’ll check back in a year.