Apple TV+ went live on Friday, giving subscribers access to the company's slate of new programming including "The Morning Show" and "See." Apple (AAPL) has been building up to this moment since the tech giant unveiled TV+ during a star-studded event at its Cupertino, California, campus in March.
But Apple TV+ is joining an increasingly crowded marketplace full of streaming services vying for your attention. There's the 800-pound gorilla of the streaming industry, Netflix (NFLX), followed by Amazon (AMZN) Prime Video; and Hulu, not to mention Disney's (DIS) upcoming Disney+, which will launch on Nov. 12. And waiting in the wings is WarnerMedia's (T) HBO Max.
With so many options out there, choosing which service to subscribe to can be incredibly confusing. To help you make sense of this fractured streaming landscape, we're breaking down the pricing, top shows, and how big their audiences are.
Apple TV+ is the least expensive of the streaming options on our list at just $4.99 per month. When Apple announced that price in September during a press event, audible gasps of apparent shock came from the audience.
Apple has also announced that it is giving away a year of Apple TV+ to everyone who buys a new iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or Apple TV. Apple's pricing makes sense, as the service doesn't have a backlog of shows and movies to pull in users right off the bat. Instead, it's relying on pricing and user experience to generate enough buzz to build its audience.
Hulu is the second least expensive of the major streaming services, with its ad-supported plan priced at just $5.99 per month.
The ad-free version of the service costs $11.99 per month and gets you TV show episodes shortly after they hit the airwaves versus other services, which may make episodes available for streaming months later.
Another "+" service, Disney+ has the makings of a juggernaut, and its $6.99 per month price tag is certainly going to help make that happen. If you want to save in the long term, Disney is also offering a yearly plan for Disney+ for $69.99 per year.
Then there's Disney’s deal with Yahoo Finance parent Verizon (VZ), which will give Verizon Wireless Unlimited data subscribers and new Fios subscribers access to a year of Disney+ for free. After those 12 months, your Disney+ payments will be charged to your Verizon bill.
Netflix is the cream of the crop of streaming services. It helped launch the streaming revolution after sending DVDs through the mail to subscribers, then began allowing customers to view those same offerings online on demand. Since then, the company has become the streaming king with a slew of well reviewed original series and shows. Heck, Netflix virtually created modern binge watching — think, “Netflix and chill.”
Despite that, the streaming service is a surprisingly low-price offering. The company’s Basic plan, which gets you watching on one screen at a time, costs $8.99 per month. Meanwhile, the Standard plan, which lets you stream to two screens at once and watch HD content, costs $12.99 per month.
Netflix’s Premium plan costs $15.99 per month and lets you stream on four screens at up to 4K resolutions.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon’s Prime Video comes with a subscription to the e-commerce giant’s Prime delivery service. You can choose to pay monthly for Prime, which works out to $12.99 per month, or pay $112 for the entire year. If you want to opt for Prime Video on its own, you’ll pay $8.99 per month.
AT&T's HBO Max isn’t set to launch until 2020, but WarnerMedia has already announced pricing. At $14.99 per month, HBO Max is one of the more expensive streaming offerings. It's also the same price as HBO Now, its on-demand service. Thankfully, it turns out, HBO will automatically upgrade HBO Now subscribers to HBO Max for free, as long as they didn't subscribe through a third-party service.
HBO itself will still be available with cable subscriptions, though prices for that vary depending on your provider. If you subscribe to HBO via AT&T's AT&T TV or U-Verse services, you won't have to pay an additional charge for HBO Max.
Big-name shows and movies
Apple has used its deep pockets to line up a number of mega-stars for its foray into streaming. At launch, the company will have "The Morning Show" with Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, "See" with Jason Momoa, "For All Mankind," and "Dickinson," among other offerings.
Apple won't be launching with a back catalogue of classic shows pulled from other networks, which hurt the service off the bat. But the company says it will add shows every month to build out its slate.
Where to start with Disney+? Right out of the gate, the service will have one of the most compelling movie and TV show catalogues around, rivaling even Netflix. Not only will Disney+ give subscribers access to Disney's long list of classic movies including "The Lion King," and "Snow White," but it will also include newer hits like "Toy Story 4," as well as the entire Marvel and Star Wars library of shows and movies.
And since Disney purchased Fox, the service will also feature all 30 seasons of "The Simpsons," even if seasons 2 through 9 were the best. On top of that, Disney is releasing a number of shows exclusive to the streaming platform including "The Mandalorian" and "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier."
With HBO's entire lineup of original shows and movies, HBO Max will land with massive hits like "Game of Thrones," " The Sopranos," and "Veep." Max will also get originals such as "Tokyo Vice" and a reboot of "Gossip Girl." Then there's the massive number of classic movies that HBO has access to, which will also be available to stream through the service.
Beyond that, HBO Max will be the only place you can watch "Friends," and will include shows like "The Big Bang Theory," "South Park," and "Doctor Who." Kids content will include "Sesame Street," as well as "Loony Tunes" and Cartoon Network and Adult Swim shows.
Netflix has a collection of impressive TV shows and movies to its name including “Stranger Things,” "El Camino," “BoJack Horseman,” “Big Mouth,” “Dear White People,” and a slew of others. Add to that a seemingly endless number of third-party shows and movies, and you'd probably turn to dust before you finished watching it all in one session.
Amazon Prime Video
Prime Video also has a number of quality shows including "The Boys," “Goliath,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “The Man in the High Castle,” “Bosch,” “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” and more.
The network also has third-party movies and shows for viewing, as well as others that you’ll have to pony up some extra cash to watch.
Hulu’s originals include “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Castle Rock,” “Catch 22,” “Marvel’s Runaways,” “Pen15,” and others. Like Netflix and Amazon, Hulu also gives you access to a huge number of shows and movies from major networks and studios.
While Apple TV+ has only just launched, analysts already have big hopes for the fledgling streaming service. Apple says there are more than 1 billion active iOS devices on the planet, and if the company pushes the app to all of them, even a sliver of that number would equate to a huge number of subscribers.
Add to that the fact that Apple is giving away a year of the service to hardware customers, and it looks like Apple should have quite a hit on its hands. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives says the service could have as many as 100 million subscribers within three years of launch.
Disney's huge amount of content and relatively low price could make it a major Netflix rival from the start. Morgan Stanely's Benjamin Swinburne predicts that it will have as many as 15 million subscribers in its first year. And by 2024, that number could be as high as 75 million, the analyst added.
AT&T has some aggressive goals in mind for HBO Max. AT&T COO John Stankey has said the service will immediately be available for free 10 million AT&T customers who subscribe to it when it launches.
According to a Reuters report, the company wants to have as many as 80 million global subscribers by 2025, with 50 million of those coming from the U.S.
Netflix is easily the biggest streaming platform on the planet with a whopping 158 million subscribers. The company has virtually saturated the U.S. market, though, and is now focusing its efforts overseas with more originals that resonate with international markets.
Amazon Prime Video
Netflix doesn't let on how many Prime subscribers it has all too often, and that's even more so the case with Prime Video subscribers. In January, the company announced that it had more than 100 million subscribers. Since Prime Video is offered for free with a Prime subscription, it's best to assume that there are at least 100 million Prime Video subscribers. That doesn't necessarily mean they use the service, though.
Hulu doesn't have nearly the subscriber base of Netflix, but at more than 28 million users, it's not exactly small, either.
With Disney set to offer a bundled package that includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+, that number could soon increase significantly.
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