It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Netflix began a revolution; by offering a number of film and television titles from a number of different studios and companies, the dream of cable subscriptions becoming obsolete was looking more likely. Flash forward years later, and consumers are in a predicament as each major media corporation attempts to create their own space in the streaming world.
We’ve already become accustomed to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and the now-Disney controlled Hulu. Since then, HBO, Showtime, and Starz have offered their library with separate subscriptions and applications, and in the past year, the doing-okay CBS All Access, the still-alive DC Universe, and the throwback Criterion Channel have introduced their own offerings. The streaming landscape is becoming discombobulated, and with every corporation wanting to offer their own “premium television service,” the prospect of being caught up with everything on television might be more expensive than cable ever was.
With recent news from network upfront presentations this week, we have some information about the streaming services soon to come from the biggest media corporations; the info below will be updated regularly as more news comes in. Get those wallets ready!
(UPDATED October 30, 2019)
Launch Date: November 12, 2019
Pricing: $6.99/month, $69.99/year
What It’ll Have: Disney has had a busy year, to say the least. The corporation had announced their intentions to remove their content from Netflix upon the expiration of their deal, with their own service called Disney+ becoming a central hub for all things Disney. The main pillars of the service consist of Disney proper, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and because of Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox, National Geographic.
Original content including original movies and sequels are in production for the platform; fans of The Sandlot, The Mighty Ducks, and, uh, Three Men and a Baby can look forward to the next exciting chapters of those sagas. Also expect live-action remakes of classics like Lady and the Tramp and Peter Pan. On the Pixar side of things, all theatrical Pixar films will be on the service, along with a new miniseries based on Toy Story 4 character Forky, and a full sequel series for Monsters Inc. called Monsters at Work.
All theatrical Star Wars films will feature on the service, and animated series The Clone Wars will get a full season revival. A new live-action series from writer/producer Jon Favreau called The Mandalorian will premiere with the service, with a Rogue One spin-off about Cassian Andor also in the works. From Marvel Studios, expect Captain Marvel and more previous MCU films to be on the service on day one. Original shows include WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, an animated What If? show, and Hawkeye. And from National Geographic, you’ll probably get some cool documentaries, and some show that has Jeff Goldblum observing things.
There will also be a mass offering of classic films from the Disney Vault and television shows from Disney Channel and ABC. With Fox properties now under Disney’s umbrella, shows like The Simpsons will stream exclusively on Disney+. Disney will also offer a bundle with Disney+, ad-supported Hulu, and ESPN+.
Launch Date: November 1, 2019
What It’ll Have: Jeez, these guys too now? The dudes who make the phones and whatnot are also producing original television shows, and because original naming ideas are apparently dead, they also slapped a “plus” to their own name. Apple TV+ was detailed during a March event, and Apple is banking on the star power of the numerous creators and talent they’ve bagged for this service.
We’re talking Steven Spielberg, M. Night Shyamalan, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, Jason Momoa, Alfre Woodard, Kumail Nanjiani, goddamn Big Bird, J.J. Abrams, and Oprah Winfrey. That’s right, everyone: new Oprah content is the latest expensive product from Apple. While many of these creators made the pitches for their projects to the audience, and while we caught a glimpse of many of them in a montage trailer, there is no exact date or price for this upcoming service.
Whatever and whenever the case, all of this will be accessible through the Apple TV app in iOS and tvOS devices, with a macOS version coming this fall, presumably with the launch of Apple TV+. An update this week actually prepared the application for the new content, as Apple is attempting to consolidate most channels into their one app. Through the Apple TV app, owners can now subscribe to “Channels” like HBO and Showtime within the app, paying through iTunes; shows like Game of Thrones will stream directly through that app, and can even be downloaded and watched offline (HBO’s app can’t even do this yet).
Launch Date: April 2020
Pricing: free with advertisements for pay TV subscribers; TBA fee for ad-free; TBA fee for non-TV subscribers
What It’ll Have: Look, I get it—you’re concerned about spending too much money on these services. Well, Comcast and NBCUniversal may have the solution for you. How about a free service? (pause) With ads! Yeah, that doesn’t sound quite ideal, but NBCUniversal ad-sales chief Linda Yaccarino attempted to give a pitch during upfronts this week, per Variety:
“Next year we’re going to unveil the largest initiative in our company’s history: We’re going to have our own ad supported platform. While other companies are pushing advertisers out, we’re bringing them in. It will have a slate of originals and a gigantic library of all favorites. The shows that people love the most and stream the most are coming home at a price that every person can afford: free.”
Sure, fine. Hulu and CBS All Access have paid tiers with advertisements, so a free one of these could be okay. Perhaps they’ll come up with more clever ways to advertise, i.e. putting company logos on Michael Scott’s coffee mug through CGI.
Speaking of The Office, what is happening to all of the NBCUniversal shows currently on other services? It’s a bit complicated, but now that Comcast has ceded all operations of Hulu to Disney, with the option of Disney buying Comcast’s stake in the venture in the next five years, expect all NBCUniversal content to disappear by then. Per The Verge, Hulu can still stream shows like Saturday Night Live and This is Us on their platform until 2024, but even those shows won’t be exclusive, leaving NBCUniversal free to put them on their own platform by 2021.
On the Netflix side of things, everything is less clear—The Office is a highly-watched show on that service, so it’s possible that Netflix will shell out a lot of money to keep it on. (UPDATE: The Office is leaving Netflix by 2021.) Remember how much Netflix paid for Friends? That show will be a complicated one, as Friends, despite airing on NBC, was produced by Warner Bros. Television. Speaking of them…
Launch Date: May 2020
What It’ll Have: The newly-branded and AT&T-owned WarnerMedia made their intentions for a streaming service clear back in October, and boy do they have a lot of content to take advantage of. Underneath that corporate umbrella is Warner Bros., HBO, Turner (TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim), DC, and probably more that I’m neglecting to mention. Heck, I found out this week that they own Otter Media, which in turn owns Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, and VRV. The question is how everything will be organized, with HBO, DC, and VRV already having their own services.
The answer isn’t that much clearer, but (per THR) AT&T CEO and the most businessman-looking businessman ever Randall Stephenson expressed excitement over all of the properties his company has amassed during this week’s upfronts. Per ScreenRant, WarnerMedia’s service will have a soft launch with legacy content with shows like Friends, Seinfeld, and The Big Bang Theory. A “Phase 2” in 2020 would bring original content, such as an animated Gremlins series. (UPDATE: A July 2019 press release did not mention such a “soft launch” and specified the commercial launch as being spring 2020.)
Perhaps WarnerMedia at large could follow the VRV model and have Warner Bros., Turner, DC, and HBO content all bundled into one service for a lower price. Stephenson predicts “tens of millions” of subscribers due to their offerings (per Deadline), and also predicts that due to strong partnerships with pay-TV providers, that the service will be offered for free to HBO subscribers. Buy one, get them all, hopefully? (UPDATE: AT&T customers and HBO Now subscribers will get HBO Max at no additional cost.)
Ultimately, all of this will be for naught, since people will be watching silly YouTube videos instead.