Ranked! The Best Streaming Services of COVID Quarantine
With Earth’s entire population looking to pass the time in quarantine, demand for escapism has never been higher. A lack of live sports earlier this year has only contributed to cord-cutting. The number of streaming services available increases almost daily; since 2019, Disney+, Apple TV+, and Peacock have gone to war with veterans like Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix. Each service fighting for the best readily-available (waiting for new episodes is a practice best left to the 2010s) TV and movies at an alluring price—cost perhaps being the biggest factor.
The upper echelons of society may have procured every subscription but some of us have to pick and choose. And we did. According to a survey by The Trade Desk, over 59 percent of viewers aren’t willing to pay $20/month. This is why Netflix, with its massive library, remains the market leader. However, as numbers of subscribers soar, there are plenty of other services giving Netflix a run for its money. Here are our power rankings of The Best Streaming Services of Covid Quarantine.
Cover Photo: Twentieth Century Fox
11. Apple TV Plus
Like the company’s notorious end-to-end compatibility, Apple TV+ ‘s streaming service offers only original programming. Shows like The Morning Show, The Servant, See and movies like Greyhound and On the Rocks have warranted over 13 million subscribers as of November 2020. However, shows subscribers are also thanks to the year of free access Apple offers when you buy one of their products. Its monthly fees are low, its library is small and “end-to-end compatibility" is a bit of a buzz kill.
Peacock is more than just NBC for streaming. While it does include next-day reruns of primetime shows and a library full of SNL, Law & Order, and other Comcast-owned programming like E! and Oxygen, Peacock also offers shows like Paramount Network’s Yellowstone, old episode’s of sitcoms like The King of Queens, blockbuster movies, and originals like Brave New World and Departure. Showcasing broadcast and cable networks, Peacock as a linear TV channels option as well. It’s free if you don’t mind ads and have no interest in Peacock originals; otherwise, it’s only $5.
9. CBS All Access
CBS All Access is a must-have for Trekkies; hosting Star Trek exclusives like Picard and Star Trek Discovery (as well as many others present/future). Its affordable library is smaller but its on-demand selection is solid and it offers live TV—including local sports and news channels.
Japanese Manga/Anime has always been cool; quarantine has only amplified general interest. Crunchyroll is geared towards anime and Japanese dramas, compiling more of these titles than any other platform. You even get unlimited access to its collection of manga. If you hate ads you’ll have to pay $7.99/month but otherwise, it’s completely free. Downside: It’s hard to differentiate between dubbed/subbed and there are no parental controls (but oh well, we’re in it for cartoons of the adult variety).
You can sign up for Vudu without a credit card—it’s free. Without spending a dime, you can watch a wide variety of movies and TV shows (with ads). If you want to rent or buy new shows or movies (some still in theaters) you can.
6. HBO Max
The draw of Game of Thrones and The Sopranos are things of the past. Still, the new HBO Max had over 28 million subs as of November 2020; it has a bigger library (already overtaking Hulu) and more original content including Warner Bros’ upcoming films (which will become available on the platform simultaneously with their theatrical release). However, $15 a month is much higher than comparable (and superior) services.
Believe it or not, Hulu has been around for 12 years. Often overlooked because of its non-premium ads (but it’s only $6 vs. $12), Hulu still has one of the largest libraries and boasts award-winning TV shows like The Handmaid’s Tale. You can add on a live television package if you so desire.
4. Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime is that thing you don’t remember buying (but has over 167 million subs as of November 2020). Thanks to its tricky tenacity, Amazon Prime Video has produced some of the best original shows on the market including The Boys, Jack Ryan, Homecoming, Fleabag, The Big Sick, The Expanse, and Good Omens. With thousands of movies and shows to watch/rent on demand and a backlog of content from other networks, an argument can be made for Amazon’s future dominance (streaming-wise).
3. Disney Plus
At this point, Disney owns everything from Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm to Pixar, National Geographic, and (previously) 21st Century Fox. While most subscribers bought Disney+ at the end of 2019 specifically to watch The Mandalorian, the service has since compiled hundreds of exclusive series/movies including animated classics, newer big-budget extravaganzas, and the upcoming Marvel and Star Wars shows. Disney+ allows for seven profiles on each account and boasts over 194 million subs (as of November 2020). The only downside: the platform doesn’t offer any TV-MA content (obviously).
YouTube is arguably the greatest thing since sliced bread—if we’re not watching/renting a television show or a movie, 46.55 million monthly users are falling into a suggested abyss of nonsense courtesy of cute cats and YouTube. On top of the service’s endless array of content/channels, YouTube offers what is perhaps the best alternative to Sling or DirecTV on the market today: YouTube TV. Equipped with a cloud DVR and live TV (from over 50 providers and counting), the monthly fee of $40 isn’t too shabby compared to the cord-equipped.
With over 274 million subscribers as of November 2020, who doesn’t have a Netflix account? Not to mention the fact that each account can have up to five profiles and everyone is sharing. With original series such as Stranger Things, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Witcher, as well as classics like Breaking Bad and original movies like Extraction (and a plethora to come this year), Netflix’s content tends to be what everyone talks about. With thousands upon thousands of movies and TV shows in general, it’s easy to see why/how Netflix’s fathered/mothered binge-watch culture throughout its 23-year reign. Yeah.
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