Streaming Services: Discussion and Power Rankings

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
One feature of conversations we often have here about geek media is that they get sidetracked into conversations about the various streaming services that are currently offering the content. So while you want to talk about Captain Pike's amazingly dreamy hair and cooking skills on Strange New Worlds, you instead end up discussing Paramount+. Or instead of being able to chat about the delightfully awesome and weird Severance, you end up debating the merits of AppleTV+.

Therefore, as a public service, I have decided to create this thread - for talking about the relative merits of streaming platforms, as well as to all people to provide their own power rankings of the platforms. This was, by the way, partially prompted by the curious (and, IMO, dumb) decisions made recently regarding HBOMax.

I apologize but this is going to be US-centric. That's because I am reasonably certain that the US is the only country, and that every time I have flown "outside the US" I have actually only gone to the World Showcase of Epcot ... which, wow, they do a good job! I still don't know how they got an accurate representation of the Dolomites in a central Florida swamp. That said, please feel free to contribute with your own observation from Central Florida.

Second, feel free to discuss any and all of the 10,984 streaming services that you want! ESPN+? Sure. Shudder? Love the horror. FuboTV? FUBO! That said, for purposes of power rankings, I will be looking at only the following services:
Netflix
Prime (Amazon)
Disney+
HBOMax
Hulu
Paramount+
Peacock
AppleTV+



How are power rankings determined? They are a completely subjective mix of my opinion as to how the service is doing currently, along with my belief in how the service will be doing in the future. In addition, I will provide a trend (up, down, steady).

1. Netflix. Sure, the share price has dropped. Yeah, they spent a lot of money on some bad movies. No, they don't have the library they did seven years ago, before everyone else started yanking their content for their own streaming services. And, of course, they are treading water on subscribers. But that obscures the larger point- they have the technology. They successfully pivoted to creating their own content. They have worldwide distribution. They have a brand. And unlike the other streaming sites, which puff up their numbers with free subscriptions or special offers ... Netflix is all paying.

2. Disney+. This is partly due to recent events, and also a projection (see Hulu, below). Disney has one ... massive ... thing ... going for it. The content. If you're a fan of Marvel, Disney is a must-have. If you're a fan of Star Wars, Disney is a must-have. And ... if you have children, Disney is a must-have. When Content is King, the House of Mouse will eventually prevail.

3. AppleTV+. This is mostly projection. Apple was always chasing quality ... and sometimes, especially early on, that wasn't paying off (The Daily Show, See). But what was the first streamer to win an Oscar? That's right, Apple. Despite being a latecomer to streaming with only a handful of TV shows, Apple is already one of the top "platforms" for Emmy nominations. Apple appears to be taking the heavily-curated HBO approach; the only thing that they lack is a back catalog. And Apple? They have money.

4. HBOMax. This pains me. If I had done this prior to Warner getting spun off to Discovery, HBOMax would have been #2, easily. Combining Warner Bros. content (including DC), a ton of great old TV series, adult swim (!), anime, classic movies, tons of original new programming and ... the amazing quality of HBO, this was probably the highest-quality streamer out there. And AT&T kept funneling money to make sure it would continue to be successful. But now? It's a company saddled with debt, that's seems lost in terms of direction, and is intent on diminishing a successful brand. Maybe it will work? Or maybe it will flounder and get sold to someone else.

5. Prime. On the plus side, they have Lord of the Rings, The Boys, and Amazon's infinite war chest. On the minus side, most people view it as an adjunct to getting stuff shipped to them, not as a stand-alone service.

6. Paramount+. Also known as "The Star Trek Channel." Between the CBS library and the Paramount library, they have a decent back-catalog. But right now, they are riding the success of the launch of a number of Star Trek shows.

7. Hulu. Fun fact! Did you know that Hulu is mostly owned by Disney? But that part of it is still owned by Comcast (the company that owns Peacock)? And that it doesn't exist outside of the U.S.? Which means that there is a streaming service that is very successful within the U.S., doesn't exist outside of it, and will have to end its existence relatively soon due to various contractual obligations. Expect to see Disney buy out Comcast.

8. Peacock. Wait, I rated something lower than a streaming service that will be forced to end it existence in the next few years? Yeah. Comcast needs Peacock to work, and yet ... it isn't. It's been a disaster since the launch. Quick- what "must see" program in on Peacock? Yellowstone (which is actually a Paramount show ... that was an unfortunate licensing deal)? Peacock has fewer people watching it than Paramount+, but the vast majority of people that are "subscribers" are actually watching the free version - there are fewer than 10 million paying customers, and of those, most of them received deals or are paying for the ad-supported version. It's bleeding money, and has little interest.


Anyway, feel free to post any thoughts or comments about the streaming platforms here- and not in the show pages! :)
 
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Jer

Legend
Supporter
8. Peacock. Wait, I rated something lower than a streaming service? Yeah. Comcast needs Peacock to work, and yet ... it isn't. It's been a disaster since the launch.
This is why I won't be surprised if Comcast buys Netflix. Everyone's been rolling their own content service because Netflix was too much the big kid on the block to acquire. With the Netflix executive suite starting to flail around the less attractive it looks to subscribers the more attractive it starts to look as an acquisition target. Because as you point out whether or not they have a library of content that is worth acquiring to a studio, they have the tech folks and the infrastructure that the rest of the pack are still trying to catch up to.
 

payn

Legend
Imma go with tiers from my thoughts. (Please note there are many services I cant actually determine tier as I don't have them and never have. Apple TV seems like a major contender and I know, "Dude..DUDE... DUUUUUUUDE Ted Lasso!!!1!!!one!!1!!!"

Tier 1. Too much great content to list, the best streamers.

HBO Max. Best content at the moment. Yeah its a little nerving to see what going on now and how that will impact the future. A screaming deal today that might start to diminish.

Disney+ Strong franchises and lots of stuff for kids. Dont see it leaving this tier anytime soon.

Tier 2. Decent quality and quantity of content. The best second site to have.

Netflix. Yeap, its falling every month, every week, every day. Rapidly running out of top series content. Filling the void with made in a long weekend B movies with A star talent. Junk. Also, bombarding folks with reality TV. Double junk. Makes total sense why subscribers are falling like bitcoin investors.

Hulu known today as "Disney+ adult." Access to mediocre original series and relying strongly on FX content like Sons of Anarchy, Fargo, What we do in shadows, etc...

Prime Potential to reach tier 1 but seems to have a problem elevating quality of content. Remains firmly in the middle. One good thing to say about prime is they dont bombard the offerings with quantity programming like the fledging Netflix does. Could easily see these two swapping places in the next 5-10 years.

Tier 3. Handful of good content, but mostly lacking. Free trial zone.
Paramount+ Wow, nice original name. Relying completely on Star Trek, NCIS, and Ink Master. Seriously, find something else to watch on this service. Anything?

Peacock Mostly new series based on stuff you watched as a kid (meh). Cant get enough network NBC? All you can view right here. I will say that Mr. Mercedes is a bomb ass show. Who knew after decades of terrible made for TV Stephen King all you needed was a drunk foul mouthed Brenden Gleason? Also, Brave new World is HAWT! (special call out Yellowstone #LOLParamount)
 

I'm not going to rank them because my interests ebb and flow depending on what I'm looking for, but with that said I only keep two as permanent subs and that's prime and D+. Paramount+ I sub to when there's a new season of Picard and Halo, I've never subbed to Hulu, Netflix, outside of using it to remind myself of a pervious season (Call the Midwife) I haven't had a regular sub in years. Once I realized that Peacock didn't have all of the Law and Order seasons I canceled my sub. I've never subbed to Apple TV (needs more content i'd be into) and once I watched all of the DC stuff I wanted to, I dropped HBOmax.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
HBO Max. Best content at the moment. Yeah its a little nerving to see what going on now and how that will impact the future. A screaming deal today that might start to diminish.

After Zaslav's disastrous earnings call to investors, I have come up with a new theory-

David Zaslav is actually a Bob Chapek plant. Hear me out.

A few months ago, someone told Bob Chapek the bear joke. You know the one- if you're being chased by a bear, you don't have to be the fastest guy in the world. You just have to be faster than the guy you're with.

And he was like .... WOAH. So if I can find someone who is more inept than I am ... who is more unpopular than me ... no one will think twice about me, right?

LIGHT BULB!!!!!!
 

I only have used Netflix and Prime. Netflix used to be good for lots of movies, but now it is pretty hit or miss in that respect (I mostly watched older movies so for me its about whether the movie I have in mind watching is on the service and less about finding new films). Now I pretty much only use it for stand up or documentaries. Amazon used to be very good for classic martial arts films. They had a lot of Shaw Brothers available. They still have some, but not nearly as much as before (you can rent them, but there are not as many up for free). No interest in getting more streaming subscriptions to watch a TV show (even if I am interested in the show). I think if we can get to a point where all the streaming platforms content are somehow bundled onto one, I would do so, but I don't like the idea of paying a monthly subscription just to see one show. I am especially resistant if it is a network I used to get on my cable.
 

LIGHT BULB!!!!!!
despicable me idea GIF
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
@payn

Yeah ... I hate to break the news to you, but here are two of the ideas that the new brain trust (and I use the term sarcastically, since I do believe that they actually say "LIGHT BULB!!!!!" when they have ideas) has:

1. Cut the animation. Because animation is for kids, and boys. And it's not like the WB animation people have every made anything good that anyone likes.

2. Switch Cartoon Network to live-action. Because that's never been tried before ... and is sure to be a success!

I just ... I really can't. It is rare that someone manages to come up with so many bad ideas so quickly. The literally said that they have three franchises ... Harry Potter, the DC Superheroes .... and the "NINETY DAY FIANCEE UNIVERSE."

I'm just waiting for them to say, "After reviewing everything, we've decided to pivot HBO to blockchain technology. And become more NFT-forward."
 




Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
Is that a network show or something made straight for the service?
IIRC, it was originally airing on CBS for a few seasons, but this latest season is streaming exclusive. It is on my list to watch, but I have not been able to find the time to do so.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
I just ... I really can't. It is rare that someone manages to come up with so many bad ideas so quickly. The literally said that they have three franchises ... Harry Potter, the DC Superheroes .... and the "NINETY DAY FIANCEE UNIVERSE."

HBOMax is losing the Harry Potter movies to Peacock after 8/31/22, though they've been ping-ponging between the 2 for years.

Still, I don't think I've ever seen this promising a service take this swift nosedive!

Well there was Quibi, but that was a disaster from the getgo (though the Princess Bride "remake" was amazing and inspired).
 

Stalker0

Legend
Imma go with tiers from my thoughts. (Please note there are many services I cant actually determine tier as I don't have them and never have. Apple TV seems like a major contender and I know, "Dude..DUDE... DUUUUUUUDE Ted Lasso!!!1!!!one!!1!!!"

Tier 1. Too much great content to list, the best streamers.

HBO Max. Best content at the moment. Yeah its a little nerving to see what going on now and how that will impact the future. A screaming deal today that might start to diminish.

Disney+ Strong franchises and lots of stuff for kids. Dont see it leaving this tier anytime soon.

Tier 2. Decent quality and quantity of content. The best second site to have.

Netflix. Yeap, its falling every month, every week, every day. Rapidly running out of top series content. Filling the void with made in a long weekend B movies with A star talent. Junk. Also, bombarding folks with reality TV. Double junk. Makes total sense why subscribers are falling like bitcoin investors.

Hulu known today as "Disney+ adult." Access to mediocre original series and relying strongly on FX content like Sons of Anarchy, Fargo, What we do in shadows, etc...

Prime Potential to reach tier 1 but seems to have a problem elevating quality of content. Remains firmly in the middle. One good thing to say about prime is they dont bombard the offerings with quantity programming like the fledging Netflix does. Could easily see these two swapping places in the next 5-10 years.

Tier 3. Handful of good content, but mostly lacking. Free trial zone.
Paramount+ Wow, nice original name. Relying completely on Star Trek, NCIS, and Ink Master. Seriously, find something else to watch on this service. Anything?

Peacock Mostly new series based on stuff you watched as a kid (meh). Cant get enough network NBC? All you can view right here. I will say that Mr. Mercedes is a bomb ass show. Who knew after decades of terrible made for TV Stephen King all you needed was a drunk foul mouthed Brenden Gleason? Also, Brave new World is HAWT! (special call out Yellowstone #LOLParamount)

Pretty spot on with my thoughts as well, though I consider Peacock in its own D tier, I think its pretty crappy, whereas Paramount has a decent lineup its just a small player in the big sea right now.

Ultimately at the end of the day, content is king. The technology is easily replaceable and updatable, so while Netflix had a solid head start (and still has one of the best UIs to me) that is going to fall by the wayside as the other services improve and people finish going through the library. The content creators are the ones who are going to win the war, and while Netflix and Prime realize this...I don't know if they have the juice to keep up with the monster libraries of Disney and HBO, who are also creating content. I think at some point Netflix will likely sell their technology to one of the other players once their subscription numbers hit below a certain number, or if they can maintain a steady state they will just keep on trucking and enjoying their paycheck month to month for as long as the ride lasts.

I think the fate of the minor services is to become $1-$5 add on services to the major players, basically we are back to cable where I buy my main package and then can slap on a few extra channels.
 



Gradine

Final Form (she/they)
On the one hand, Disney+ has Bluey, the greatest television show in human history.

On the other hand, Netflix has Riverdale, the best D&D television show in human history.

Also I liked Wheel of Time, which apparently had a mixed reaction to it.
 


payn

Legend
Also I liked Wheel of Time, which apparently had a mixed reaction to it.
I think it fell victim to what I call the Prime template. There seems to be this writing template that all Prime shows follow. I have mentioned this before but I'll run it down.
  1. 3 episode season kickstart arc. Usually the very best content of the season. Sets everything up and is paced well.
  2. 4 episodes of utter wheel spinning. Will he, or wont he??? I love exposition so these middle episodes dont bother me in theory, but the Prime template makes these utter filler. Nothing is moved forward, the game is never changed, its just 4 hours of setting up a finale that is too small to deliver what it needs to. (for great examples see Billions and/or Black Sails)
  3. The Finale. At this point 7 episodes have been building to this finale. However, there is not enough time in the final episode to deal with everything. So, you get massive plot build ups completed in a matter of mins, sometimes seconds, in very anti-dramatic ways. There is just no room to breath and let happen in these finale episodes.
 

Mallus

Legend
Halo was surprisingly un-terrible.
You are not incorrect.

A quick right-now ranking:

HBOMax (you can watch Our Flag Means Death, Harley Quinn, and Criterion hits, nuff said)
Apple+ (best quality/price ratio, Severance, For All Mankind)
Netflix (lots of good stuff but too big, the content firehose is bad)
Disney/Hulu (lots of good things I’m kinda getting tired of, might watch Hamilton again. tho)
Paramount+ (Star Trek and more Star Trek, will resub when Disco is back)
Amazon Prime Video (Paper Girls was great, when does WoT season 2 drop?)
Peacock (free because I still have cable)
 
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