May 20, 2023•1,484 words
This originally started as a love letter to Peacock. As much as I love Peacock (and I do!), it turns out that I didn't actually have a lot to say about it, so then I thought "Why not just say a few words about all the services I currently subscribe to, suggest a few exclusives on each that I enjoy, and then give the services a rating" and so now here we are.
While I'm generally a big supporter of rating things on a scale from 1 - 10, for some reason the letter grade scale strikes me as more fitting for this task, so that's what I'll be using -- A through F -- where A is the best and F is the worst.
The services I have in alphabetical order:
- Amazon Prime Video (Updated 04/30/2023)
- Apple TV+
- The Roku Channel
Amazon Prime Video
I hope the generally negative feelings toward Amazon that I harbor don't paint the opinion I hold for its streaming service in too much of a negative light, but to be frank, if it weren't for my wife renewing her Amazon Prime subscription every year, I probably wouldn't miss having access to its offerings.
Also, the app is kind of atrocious to look at and navigate. The app received a generally nice makeover a few months back, and the navigability has improved, so now it purely comes down to content.
Exclusives: I think Catastrophe and Fleabag are great, I enjoyed The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel but did not watch the last two seasons, and Honey Boy was one of my favorite movies to come out of 2019...that might be about as much love as I can give to Amazon Prime Video. There's a part of me that was excited about the Lord of the Rings show that came out, but I've not given it a watch and I doubt at this point that I ever will.
Rating: C- (no change)
Apple has a bundle where you get Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50 GB of iCloud storage -- a $21 value! -- for $15/month. I was already paying $10/month for Apple Music and wanted to see what all the Ted Lasso fuss was about, so I caved and went for the bundle. Although I've given up on Ted after the first season, I became thoroughly invested in Severance and I'm looking forward to season two.
I continue to believe that navigating the app is like walking through Jell-O, takes forever to load, and will occasionally buffer mid-program or have terrible audio dropouts. On A Roku device -- one that also supports AirPlay 2 -- it may also give a "device does not support this video format" error, regardless of whether I'm using the Roku app or AirPlaying, so Severance viewing was relegated to an iPad (surely the way it was intended to be viewed!).
Exclusives: Everything Apple TV+ offers is exclusive, so I suppose that's one positive way of thinking about its lineup of shows and movies, but Severance almost makes it worth paying for. If only the Roku app was better.
(While not "exclusive" per se, one thing that Apple does is, when a new exclusive show or movie is being added to its lineup, Apple will make a few older movies streamable that are related in some way (maybe by genre or actor in the series) at no additional cost. Kinda nice!)
Rating: B- (no change)
discovery+ offers a surprising amount of content for the price ($5/month with ads, $7 ad-free), and the app is fairly well organized considering the number of channels it encompasses and myriad shows it provides. I think this is one my wife pays for, but I could see myself being pretty bummed if it went away.
Exclusives: Something happened to me over the past year and a half that I don't want to get into right now but I promise I can explain: I've become a Guy Fieri fan. For me, the $5/month is worth it just to be able to watch Guy's Grocery Games, but the Property Brothers also have a show where they team up with celebrities who pay to do home renovations for their normie friends, and that's also really enjoyable.
Lastly, I think my wife would want me to mention Cheap Old Houses, a show where a husband and wife drive around the country and highlight huge old houses that are going for $150k or less.
I'll tell you what, it's not TV...it's HBO -- MAX!
HBO's synonymous with high-quality, premium cable programming and, after a few bumpy and false starts on the streaming-end of things, HBO finally came into its own and max is pretty pretty pretty good.
One thing I love about the service is, like discovery+, it offers so much more than the HBO experience; you get Turner Classic Movies, Crunchyroll (for nerds), Looney Tunes, Cartoon Network/adult swim, and more. On the other hand -- and I don't know the economics behind running a kids show, but -- I have a hard time wrapping my head around how HBO (Time-Warner? AT&T?) having such a large financial stake in Sesame Street and denying the first-run episodes (the episodes are held back for 9 months before airing on PBS) from those less fortunate to be able to afford HBOmax ($15/month) is a good thing...
Hulu is in a weird spot at the moment. Various co-investors (Disney, AT&T/Time-Warner, NBC Universal) kinda have their own things going on these days (Disney+, HBOmax, Peacock), but Hulu's still kickin'. Since my wife pays for ad-free Hulu, if something is available on both Peacock and Hulu (Making It), we watch on Hulu, but I actually prefer the Peacock interface; I always feel like I'm not clicking on the right spot in Hulu.
Do you have a library card? Check to see if you can access Kanopy, then. It's a service that partners with library networks to offer a variety of films to stream. A library network I'm part of offers a ton of docs, foreign language films, and a decent selection of Criterion and A24 films, but from what I understand, other library networks might have access to different...libraries...of films, so mileage may vary here.
Exclusives: I'm not sure if Kanopy has exclusives necessarily, but some of the movies here are not really found anywhere else as far as I'm aware.
T-Mobile was giving a free year of Paramount+ to its users so I took advantage of it. Despite not using it to its fullest potential (probably?), there are a few shows I'd recommend...
Finally, the one that kicked off this whole damn post. I honestly believe that Peacock is an unsung hero in the streaming service wars all because of its exclusives.
While there's a (fairly limited) free tier, Peacock also offers a $5/month tier that offers basically everything, but mostly with ads and you can't download anything to mobile devices (this is the tier I'm on), and a $10/month tier that offers everything, but some things still have ads and you can download most things to mobile devices.
Outside of being the new home for a number of popular NBC shows (The Office, Parks & Rec) and classics (Columbo, Murder, She Wrote), Peacock also offers access to a number of Universal films, and exclusives...
Exclusives: Now this is where the gettin' is good! Girls5eva is a delight, Rutherford Falls is great, and We Are Lady Parts is terrific. Not sure if any of these are available for free, but they are absolutely worth $5 in my opinion.
The Roku Channel
All of these services are being accessed primarily from a Roku device. This is a half-joke inclusion on this list, but it half-seriously does have a few decent movies and shows available to stream. I'm not sure if you actually need a Roku to be able to access The Roku Channel, but if you don't, it's totally worth it just for...
Exclusives: ...Mapleworth Murders. I hope it gets a second season, but I absolutely do not expect it to (it was originally a Quibi Original) (Quibi's dead).
May your streaming be an enjoyable streaming!