Previously on Pandemic Binge Watching I wrote about the three long established streaming services that have been staples of our watching habits, even before the current series of unfortunate events.
Hulu is the little channel that could. We originally got it in order to watch The Handmaid’s Tale, then cancelled. But it is the service I keep coming back to. I had to get it to get through all of Archer after that fell off of Netflix. At one point a year of so back I had a plan to simply replace our Comcast cable lineup with the local channel and sports package you can through get through Hulu, but was brought up short on the details.
My wife is a hockey fan, and we can get the channel that carries all the Shark’s games, but on Hulu it runs 20-30 seconds behind the cable broadcast and my wife was quickly annoyed that her game night texting buddies would announce somebody scored before it ever made it to our screen. That is literally a deal breaker here it seems. A pity, because I was good with every other aspect of it, especially picture quality. Comcast put in a really bad compression algorithm a year of so back, so their HD service barely looks like HD anymore. The streaming services look much better.
Hulu has a lot going for it.
Some very good original content. I mentioned The Handmaid’s Tale already, and did a post previously about Catch-22.
The channel really excels at being the place to go watch seasons of things once they have wrapped up on cable channels that do not have their own streaming service yet.
Hulu has a bunch of subscription options. You can go cheap if you can handle some commercials, or opt to pay a bit more to remove them, and add on a number of additional options, up to and including a basic cable replacement.
Their interface hides the depth of the channel more so than some competitors I could mention. If Netflix is a hyper puppy trying to get your attention, Hulu is an old sheep dog that can’t be bothered some days.
Not so much original stuff as you might imagine.
Really needs some of the features that Prime and Netflix have adopted to skip show intros and the like. I realize this is related to the relationship they have with networks and what not, and that they are getting some of the features going, but still. I do get a bit pissy when content from other networks won’t even let you fast forward past promos.
Current Status: Subscribed and using the service to subscribe to Showtime rather than get into Showtime’s app. Also still watching Bob’s Burgers.
On paper Disney+ should be a subscribe and never leave channel for our family. It has all of the MCU movies, all of the Star Wars movies and (almost) all the shows, all of the Disney catalog that they’ll still admit to, and it has every episode of The Simpsons. I should literally be parked in front of that channel forever.
Inexpensive at $7.00 a month. Can get it bundled with Hulu.
Literally everything 14 year old me could want.
The Madalorian was pretty good. We watched that every week through its first season.
The Hulu bundle made you take the ad sponsored version of the service last I checked, plus you have to take ESPN as well, in which I have no interest. The faux seasons pro sports are putting on now are not enticing at all.
I’m not 14 any more. I have seen almost everything on the service already. Hell, I have a significant fraction of it on DVD or Blu-Ray.
Not much new/original content
No Star Wars Holiday Special? Are you kidding me?
Current Status: Currently not subscribed, but another season of The Mandalorian is coming up soon.
Starz came to us when they had an offer back in March to get 6 months of their service for $30. The thought was that we could finish up Outlander, but that stopped clicking with us after a couple seasons. We came for that, but stayed for The White Queen and its follow on series, which I mentioned previously.
Basically Starz is a lesser version of HBO, an old school cable movie service that has expanded into some original content and its own stand-alone streaming app.
Always has dozens of movies available to watch on demand.
Some very good original content
Really a lesser version of HBO in too many ways. Not so many movies you’d watch, not so many original series that you’d stick around for.
The UI design of their app always leaves me feeling I need to press the button to start a show or movie one more time that other apps.
Easily the hardest app for me to read text on from the couch. They expect you to read the show/movie titles from the thumbnail.
Current Status: Just lapsed, but The Spanish Princess 2 is coming up, so could return I suppose.
Apple TV+ is the latest channel we’ve tried. I have been wary of it in the past because Apple has run it like the iTunes store in the past, where it is essentially a store front to sell you content, and there are a lot of other options in that market. Also, it required an Apple device in the past. Recently they have made it an app that I can get on our Roku and they have added a subscription and some original content.
I have been tempted to try it if only to watch The Morning Show, which has gotten good buzz, but my wariness as to what else one gets with their subscription has left me cold. It is easier to figure out the difference between HBO Go, HBO Now, and HBO Max that to get that info out of Apple.
At $5.00 a month, the cheapest subscription service so far.
Available soon in a bundle deal with Apple Music, Apple Arcade, and iCloud.
Some original content, including Greyhound.
Some additional content from other sources available as well.
Splashy fresh UI.
Apple has the cash to fund content worth watching.
Easily the most annoying service to sign up for in my experience so far. You cannot sign up through Roku… somebody tell Epic Games… their web site is barely functional, and it is unclear to me if you can even sign up if you don’t have an iOS device. I mean, I think you can, but my experience suggest it won’t be easy.
The original content is extremely limited. I think I’ve named most of it already. There is not a lot of “there” there.
Plays like an old school service, metering out an episode a week for their shows… though I suppose they really need to, given how little of it there is, in order to keep people subscribed.
The additional content is nothing special. I think it is literally a subset of what I get on Hulu as part of that subscription.
98% of the service is there to offer you up rent or buy options. It is the iTunes store on your TV.
That splashy, fresh UI is overwrought and unclear at times and doesn’t always render correctly on the Roku. But their website doesn’t always render correctly on anything besides Safari, so go figure. But at least it mostly works on the Roku. Apple does not make a Windows or Android client.
Hard to tell if it is a work in progress that needs more time or if Apple arrogance levels have exceeded their eWorld peak, back when I heard Apple execs saying they would own the online experience because they could rebrand a literal copy of AOL.
Current status: Subscribed at least until we finish up get the last episode of Long Way Up.