Though it wasn’t technically the first video streaming service — that honor goes to Hongkong Telecom’s now-defunct iTV — when the faltering DVD-rental-by-mail business Netflix started delivering movies directly to customers’ computers in 2007, it set the stage for a revolution in our viewing habits and capabilities.
Today, streaming video is so essential a part of modern life that it’s difficult to imagine how we ever did without it — and Netflix has plenty of competitors. Amazon Prime, Hulu, PlayStation Vue, FuboTV, Pluto TV, HBO NOW, The Criterion Channel, YouTube TV, Acorn TV, Britbox, and more.
The list goes on and on. And it hasn’t stopped growing. Big names like Apple, Amazon, and Disney are among those launching new streaming initiatives this year.
Apple TV+, scheduled to appear this fall, will feature original programming, including documentaries produced by Oprah Winfrey, an M. Night Shyamalan thriller, and a drama about a TV talk show to star Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. Apple is also starting a new subscription service for Apple TV users, enabling them to more easily subscribe to Showtime, HBO, and other channels.
Before the end of the summer, AT&T expects to roll out a limited beta version of AT&T TV, a streaming equivalent to the company’s DirecTV satellite service. Disney, meanwhile, has set a target date of November 12 to start streaming its Disney+ service, which will draw on its vast catalog of TV shows and movies (including all the “Star Wars” properties and such franchises as “Deadpool” and “X-Men”), as well as original films and series. Along with these originals come some updated spins on familiar favorites. These are the 25 best TV shows getting rebooted.
Scheduled to launch sometime in 2020: Discovery/BBC, which teams the American documentary-and-reality-show channel with the venerable British broadcasting service for a roster of Discovery’s natural history programs, new jointly developed series, and the BBC shows that now appear on Netflix. NBCUniversal, featuring Universal Studios movies and NBC TV shows (including “The Office,” once its contract with Netflix expires in 2021).
And HBO Max, which will stream not only HBO programming but also other original material, titles from the Warner Bros. film and TV libraries (including every episode of “Friends”), and programming from Cartoon Network, CNN, TNT, and other channels under the same corporate ownership.
It’s good to know that there are now so many alternatives to “Netflix and chill” — especially since you may soon be watching ads on Netflix, whether you like it or not.