Best streaming services this month (December 2019)
1. Netflix (last month: #2)
The O.G. streaming providers boast the largest subscriber base, and offer incredible entertainment selection to earn the top spot among best streaming services.
For all the swings and misses Netflix has in greenlighting a great many projects, they have huge hits that defy the odds. Look no further than Stranger Things, a show widely rejected by major networks before becoming a full-blown cultural phenomenon around the world.
Similar to how Amazon operated in the red for years before becoming its own empire of sorts, Netflix is investing heavily in content in the hopes it’ll pay off. It’s a risk considering the company is the gold streaming standard, and competition is becoming more intense.
On December 6, Marriage Story comes to Netflix, too, starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. Between the Scorsese epic and writer-director Noah Baumbach’s best work, this streamer will be squarely in the awards season discussion.
2. Disney+ (last month: #3)
Let’s talk about Mouse House’s groundbreaking initiative. With ownership over many key IPs, Disney was poised to have a massively successful streamer upon its November 12 launch.
With 10 million subscribers in the first 24 hours, it’s safe to say Disney+ was an immediate success. The content kings have a monopoly on family entertainment between their own animated movies and Pixar’s — not to mention Star Wars and the most profitable blockbuster tent-pole property of all-time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Disney also acquired 21st Century Fox earlier this year, gaining control of a ton more content that will only expand its reach in the entertainment world. No. 2 may even be too low for Disney+ in the coming months due to its novelty factor.
3. Amazon Prime Video (last month: #1)
The technology company has a ton of global influence in multiple industries, and Prime’s foray into the entertainment business has been another smashing success.
Not only is Amazon Studios producing original content in the form of TV series and prestigious independent movies, but they’re also landing a ton of excellent outside titles from both mediums as well.
More familiar films without an oversaturation of original content helps Amazon’s in-house stories to stand out better from the crowd.
4. Apple TV+ (last month: #7)
Apple had to get in on this streaming competition at some point. The company is too technologically advanced and pioneering not to, and it officially did on November 1.
Although there’s a distinct disadvantage in that it’s starting essentially from scratch from a content production standpoint, if anyone can figure it out, it’s Apple.
Apple TV+ has really started strong in original programming. The Morning Show is an unflinching look at news, and Shyamalan’s Servant is off to a roaring start. Even Dickinson and See have been surprisingly good to begin.
5. Hulu (last month: #4)
Forming an alliance with Disney isn’t exactly a negative, though. As for the clear positives for this service specifically, it boasts a strong base of 28 million subscribers.
Hulu has most notably developed their own TV series such as Stephen King adaptations 11/22/63 and Castle Rock, along with the critically acclaimed The Handmaid’s Tale and the underrated, Aaron Paul-led show The Path, among others.
Don’t sleep on Hulu’s independent film section, either. Hidden gems like Ingrid Goes West and have surfaced there in recent months. Important, this month: see Booksmart and Love & Mercy if you haven’t yet. They’re streaming now on Hulu. Go!
6. HBO Go/HBO Now (last month: #5)
A string of massive TV hits over the years gives HBO a variety of great content in that medium to hang its hat on. Whether it be past hits like The Wire or Entourage, or modern classics like True Detective, Game of Thrones or Barry.
One fair criticism is the service doesn’t often shuffle around its movies or really expand its catalogue in that regard.
Many of the titles that are featured aren’t particularly well-known or big successes critically or commercially. Much of the excitement movie viewers derive from HBO comes once the more recently released movies land in the library.
7. YouTube (last month: #6)
Already creating its own TV shows and movies, YouTube feels like an inevitable streaming competitor. There’s no telling the heights and new ground it could break with Google as its parent company.
YouTube is even starting to allow movies to stream for free with ads. Consider that as of this writing, a YouTube user can log in, watch a brief ad at the top, and then view The Terminator in its entirety without any further interruption.
That’s crazy, right?
Particularly with YouTube’s cutting-edge status and knack for innovation in creating a richer user experience, there could be some fascinating developments in the coming years as virtual reality technology continues to improve.
A compelling addition to the streaming fray, Hoopla may not boast the movie and TV titles of the more widely-used services, but it’s distinguishing itself with a broader scope.
Hoopla’s biggest catalogue is in audiobooks, and they provide eBooks, comics and music in addition to film and TV. It’s a one-stop shop for anyone’s entertainment needs.
The best thing about Hoopla? It’s free as long as you register with a library card. Read more about it here on SNIPdaily.
All this convenience could well help Hoopla be a big winner down the line, but until the reputation and subscription base catches up with public perception, it’s going to be mostly about branding to stand out from the pack.
The knack this seemingly perpetual has to produce long-running, high-quality TV is undoubtedly impressive. There’s goodness to be found in Weeds, Shameless, Ray Donovan and Kidding — and even greater heights in the likes of Billions, Homeland and Dexter.
Since Showtime is a subsidiary of CBS, it’ll be interesting to see what happens now that CBS itself has invested more heavily the streaming game. Showtime has offered more mature content that wouldn’t clear regulations imposed on CBS’ own TV shows.
What also helps Showtime stand out is its heavy focus on boxing. Getting access to that sport in particular with its pay-per-view model is especially crucial and makes it less dispensable in the coming years.
10. CBS All Access
Beyond a limited selection of movies, there’s a slate of 10 original TV shows, three of which are based around Star Trek and none of which have to do with the celebrated movie trilogy of recent years.
What really excites in CBS’ feed is its revival of The Twilight Zone. This rebooted, beloved TV show is executive produced and hosted by Jordan Peele. His big hits as a writer-director (the films Get Out and Us) have made him arguably the most coveted creative mind in the business.
Peele went from a phenomenal run in sketch TV comedy to Oscar-winning screenwriter and filmmaker who, along with his production company, signed a five-year exclusive partnership deal with Universal earlier this month.
CBS All Access has experienced steady growth since launching in October 2014, but has a long way to go to compete with the best in the streaming market.
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