Streaming wars scorecard: What to watch and how much it will cost
Big Media and Big Tech are waging an all out streaming war to fight for your attention, not to mention your subscription dollars.
In the coming months, Disney, WarnerMedia and Comcast are all launching their own streaming platforms to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon — two powerful tech companies that got a big head start in the streaming game. Apple is also joining the fight with its own service that boasts exclusive programs from Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg.
To compete, the insurgents and the incumbents alike are poaching top-talent producers and making splashy announcements about exclusive content deals. This scorecard tells you who’s offering what and for how much.
Price: $4.99 a year or free when you purchase a new iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac or Apple TV.
When does it launch?: November 1
What it offers: Apple TV+ may be short on content, but it undercuts many of its streaming competitors in price with its $4.99 monthly fee (and you get a year free if you buy a new Apple product). Apple TV+ will also include content from some heavy-hitters in Hollywood. There’s “The Morning Show,” a series about the news industry starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carrell (CNN’s Brian Stelter is a consultant on the project, for which his book was used as background.) Apple also struck a multiyear deal with Winfrey in June of 2018 to create documentaries and a book club.
When does it launch?: November 12
What it offers: Disney+ will be the exclusive home for some of the most popular franchises in Hollywood for a low price. While Apple is promoting names like Oprah, Disney+ has brand names like Star Wars and Marvel. There will be multiple series from Marvel, a few original Star Wars series including “The Mandalorian,” Pixar films and shorts, Disney animated classics and documentaries from National Geographic. The service will also be the exclusive home to all 30 seasons of “The Simpsons” — TV’s longest running primetime scripted series. Much of Disney+ will cater to children, but that’s still a lot of content for $6.99, or half of what Netflix charges for its standard plan.
When does it launch?: Spring 2020
What it offers: HBO Max’s best selling point is its variety. The upcoming service from WarnerMedia, which also owns CNN, has content for all ages — Cartoon Network and “Pretty Little Liars” for the young and HBO, TNT and TBS for adults. For cinephiles, HBO Max offers Warner Bros.’ deep film library and Turner Classic Movies. The service will also have television favorites such as “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and “The Big Bang Theory.” The iconic “Friends,” which Warner Bros. had licensed to Netflix, is coming home to WarnerMedia and will live exclusively on HBO Max for five years starting in 2020.
HBO Max has also successfully courted J.J. Abrams in a wide-ranging production deal with WarnerMedia, as well as Greg Berlanti and Reese Witherspoon, who will produce original films for the service.
Price: $11.99 without ads, $5.99 with ads
What it offers: Hulu has the Emmy-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale,” current television episodes available on-demand and is now fully controlled by Disney. The service, which has 28 million subscribers, has greenlit a bunch of new series including “The Dropout,” a limited series about rise and fall of Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes that stars Kate McKinnon as Holmes, as well as two new live-action Marvel series, “Ghost Rider” and “Helstrom.” Hulu is a big part of Disney’s streaming strategy along with ESPN+, which the company plans to bundle together.
Price: $8.99 for its basic plan, $12.99 for standard and $15.99 for premium
What it offers: Netflix is still arguably the streaming king thanks to an expanding archive of content and global subscriber base that is 150 million strong. Netflix’s library includes its original series such as “Stranger Things,” “The Crown” and “The Umbrella Academy,” plus original films like “Always Be My Maybe” and the Oscar-winning “Roma.” It also has comedy specials from the likes of Dave Chappelle, upcoming films from Martin Scorsese and Michael Bay and series from Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy — two of television’s most successful producers. Netflix is losing beloved classics like “Friends” and “The Office” to competitors, but it’s now the exclusive global streaming home to “Seinfeld” starting in 2021. So, yes, Netflix may have competition waiting at the gates, but it’s still synonymous with streaming.
When does it launch?: April 2020
What it offers: Do you like to laugh? Well, NBCUniversal has the streaming service for you. Peacock will offer a full lineup of comedy hits including “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” (both of which will be exclusive to the service) “30 Rock,” “Cheers,” “Frasier” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Every season of “SNL” will be available on Peacock and there will be reboots of classic series like “Saved by the Bell” and “Battlestar Galactica.” Peacock will have blockbusters from Universal Pictures such as the “Fast & Furious” series and classics like “Jaws” and “Back to the Future.” Universal, Focus Features and DreamWorks Animation will also create original films for the service, and Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore will star in original series as well.
Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access and sports streaming
Amazon Prime Video has “Jack Ryan,” a deep content library and the Emmy-winning “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Amazon is also bringing “Lord of the Rings” to the small screen for a reported price tag that could reach $500 million.
CBS All Access is the exclusive home of “Star Trek: Discovery,” a reboot of “The Twilight Zone” hosted by Jordan Peele and an adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Stand.”
And lets not forget about live sports, which is one of the few television events that viewers still tune into in real time. Niche services like B/R Live, ESPN+, WWE Network and DAZN offer livestreams of sports events, but not-so-niche services have also taken an interest. Amazon recently secured rights to the YES Network, the country’s most-watched regional sports network and home to live games and programming featuring New York teams.
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