If you already find yourself struggling to keep up with all the new shows from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, get ready — a lot more streaming services are headed our way. As these veteran streamers continue to gain popularity and critical recognition for their original content, it seems more and more companies are looking to get in on the action. Corporations like Disney, Apple and WarnerMedia are poised to enter the world of streaming with their own movie and TV services. So, are any of these worth signing up for?
Here’s a breakdown of the new streaming services coming this year and what you need to know before deciding to subscribe or skip.
Netflix Remains The Top Dog In Streaming
As of now, Netflix is easily holding on to its title as the most popular streamer. Case in point: In April, a study from Hub Entertainment Research found that most Americans say they’d rather keep the streaming giant than any other network or streaming service. But while Netflix is easily the leader in streaming right now, it’s about to face a lot more competition.
Others Are Joining In On The Streaming Game
With millions opting to cut the cord on cable, flocking to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon instead, it’s no surprise that more companies want to get in on the streaming game. Apple and Disney are two of the most notable corporations getting ready to launch their own streamers, but you can also expect to see services from Walmart, WarnerMedia and others soon.
Disney+ Is Launching This Year
Disney has had its own streaming service in the works for some time now, and it’s finally set to launch later this November. Its debut will mark a major change in the world of streaming, as Disney content reportedly made up between 8-12% of Netflix’s viewership. Now, Disney+ will be the exclusive holder of all the movies and shows from the brands under its umbrella, including Marvel and Lucasfilm.
How Much Will It Cost?
Disney President Bob Iger once promised that the price of Disney+ “will be substantially below Netflix.” It seems he’s living up to that promise. In April, it was confirmed that the service will cost just $6.99 per month — about half the price of a standard Netflix subscription. It’s worth noting that Disney+ will likely have a significantly lower volume of content. Still, some have wondered whether the low cost will start a price war among streamers.
What Will You Be Able To Stream?
The biggest draw of Disney+ is obviously its exclusive content. Disney’s extensive back catalog — including all your favorite childhood animated films — will be available on the streamer. It will also have all the Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars movies and some of its recent acquisitions from 21st Century Fox, including all 30 seasons of “The Simpsons.” It’s unlikely all the content will be released at once, however.
Disney+ Also Has Original Content In The Works
In addition to having access to past Disney or Disney-owned releases, you can also expect plenty of original content from the new streamer. According to CNN, Disney plans to launch more than two dozen original series as well as several original films in the first year after the platform’s debut. The number of originals is expected to double within five years.
These Shows Have Already Been Ordered
Disney has already announced several original shows that will be exclusive to the streaming service Among them: a Loki series starring Tom Hiddleston; two “Star Wars” prequel shows, including one called “The Mandalorian,” directed by Jon Favreau; and TV shows based on beloved movie franchises, like “High School Musical” and “Monsters, Inc.”
Apple TV+ Will Also Arrive This Fall
Another rival streamer arriving this year: Apple TV+. The new service is expected to make its debut this fall, featuring original content from some of the biggest names in Hollywood. The biggest difference to note with this service is that it won’t offer licensed content the way Netflix or Amazon Prime does — at least not for now. If you don’t have cable and want to access past episodes of syndicated shows like “The Big Bang Theory” or “Seinfeld,” you’ll have to buy the shows through iTunes or a terrestrial cable app.
How Much Will It Cost?
One of the biggest questions still surrounding Apple TV+ is its price. Apple has yet to confirm what the monthly fee for the service will be. Though CEO Tim Cook divulged more details about the streamer at a special event in March, he didn’t touch on cost. More information is reportedly coming “later this fall,” according to a company press release.
What Will You Be Able To Stream?
Though licensed content may not be available on Apple TV+, the company does promise to provide a hefty amount of buzz-worthy original content — and it’s willing to shell out top dollar to do it. According to the Chicago Tribune, Apple planned to spend about $1 billion on original content last year. And though it’s unclear if the tech giant met that goal, it seems likely that it came pretty close, given the number of big-name celebrities it’s already attracted (more on that next!).
The Streamer Is Already Drawing Major Star Power
Apple has stated that once its streaming service debuts this fall, new content will drop every month. And it’s already lined up a number of notable projects. Among some of its planned releases: “The Morning Show,” a splashy drama about a TV morning show starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston; a Steven Spielberg-produced reboot of the 1980 anthology series, “Amazing Stories”; and several programs from a multi-year content partnership with Oprah Winfrey (including a docu-series she’s executive producing with none other than Prince Harry). Whew! Talk about star power.
WarnerMedia Is Also Planning Its Own Streaming Platform
AT&T’s WarnerMedia will also be launching its streaming video service in beta later this year. The service will bundle HBO, Cinemax and a host of movies and TV shows from the Warner Bros. brand (which includes the DC Universe).
How Much Will It Cost?
WarnerMedia’s streaming package will cost “between $16 and $17 a month,” according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. It’s worth noting that HBO Go alone costs $14.99 a month. So for a few more dollars, this new AT&T service will offer that with the addition of Cinemax and a few other extras. Though this would be the most expensive of the streaming services as it stands, WarnerMedia is reportedly exploring a less expensive, ad-supported version of the service sometime in 2020.
What Will You Be Able To Stream?
In addition to offering access to HBO and Cinemax, AT&T’s WarnerMedia service will also feature content from brands such as DC, Looney Tunes, Turner, The CW and CNN. The beta version of the service will not have original content on it, although the company says it expects to start exploring that arena in 2020 and ramping up from there. WarnerMedia owns the rights to shows such as “Friends,” “Seinfeld” and “The Big Bang Theory,” so you can also expect to find reruns of these favorites on the service.
Amazon Has Expanded Its Streaming Services Beyond Prime
Amazon also expanded its streaming services this year. In addition to adding original content to Prime Video, the company recently launched the video on demand service, IMDb Freedive. The new service offers a limited but entertaining selection of movies and television shows. Everything on IMDb Freedive is free to watch, with ads. If you’re a Fire TV user and have a Prime account, chances are you’ve already seen Freedive pop up on your list of apps.
Walmart Is Bringing Original Content To Vudu
Though Walmart isn’t exactly launching its own streaming service, it does reportedly plan to bring new original content to the video service it bought in 2010, Vudu. Unlike Hulu, Netflix and the upcoming services from Disney and Apple, Walmart’s plans don’t involve a subscription. Instead, it seems the new content will serve as a means of attracting more users to Vudu.
Walmart Is Reportedly Focusing On Family-Friendly Content
So what kind of original programming does Walmart plan to bring to Vudu? According to Variety, the lineup will be largely family-oriented. The company is reportedly planning on a wide range of movies and series, including a reboot of the 1983 film “Mr. Mom”; a travel/comedy show entitled “Friends in Strange Places”; a sci-fi series starring Evangeline Lilly; and the interview documentary series, “Turning Point with Randy Jackson,” among others. The initial slate of original shows will be ad-supported and free to watch.
Comcast Also Debuted A Streaming Service This Year
Yet another company getting in on the streaming service game this year is Comcast, though it opted for a slightly different model. Earlier this spring, the company unveiled Flex, a hub that allows its non-cable, Internet-only customers to stream and buy shows and movies. As Comcast describes, Flex provides a place for these customers “to access all of the various programs they get via different kinds of broadband products.”
How Much Does It Cost?
Comcast charges $5 a month for a subscription to Flex. Users are able to gain access to apps they already subscribe to, as well as more than 10,000 free online movies and TV shows from brands like ESPN3, Xumo, Pluto, Tubi TV, Cheddar and YouTube.
Even Costco Is Looking Into A Streaming Service
In case it wasn’t already clear that we’re about to enter streaming overload, this should convince you: Even Costco — yes, that Costco — is reportedly contemplating the launch of its own streaming service. According to a CNBC report published earlier this year, the company held talks with TV industry veteran Mark Greenberg about “building out a service geared toward average Americans.”
This followed reporting from The Information, suggesting that the retailer had conducted preliminary discussions about adding a video-streaming service as a perk for certain customers.
Hulu Is Also Getting A Content Boost This Year
Following its merger with 21st Century Fox, Disney has become the majority stakeholder in Hulu. There won’t be too much crossover between the two, as Disney will continue to focus on family-oriented fare while Hulu tends to be more adult-oriented. However, the deal could open up new avenues of production for Hulu. According to the Chicago Tribune, Fox Searchlight and FX may now create new, adult-oriented original content for Hulu.
Where Does That Leave Netflix?
With so many new competitors entering the world of streaming, does that mean the OG of streaming could soon be dethroned? It remains to be seen how these new services will fare, but one thing’s for sure: None of the upcoming streamers will offer the sheer volume of content that Netflix offers.
Disney has exclusive rights to several of the world’s most widely watched franchises under its umbrella, but it will likely be limited to family-friendly fare. Meanwhile, Apple has the advantage of a built-in user base of over 1 billion people, but it’s still early in its efforts to load up on original content.
Netflix Is Just Getting Started
Netflix, for its part, isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The company’s content spending will reportedly hit a whopping $15 billion this year. And the streamer has made it clear that it’s not focusing attention on its competitor.
“Our focus is not on Disney+, Amazon or others,” Netflix said in January 2019, according to The Mercury News, “but on how we can improve our experience for our members.”
How Will You Choose?
With so many streaming options, how will you choose? In the end, it will likely come down to your personal content preferences. For example, if you’re a diehard Marvel fan, chances are you’ll be willing to shell out for Disney+. As for those still paying for cable, you may want to consider swapping in some of these new services.