In this week's collection of recent cord-cutting news items from around the web: Netflix maintains its lead over streaming rivals; everything coming to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO Max in January; streaming services that were worth paying for in 2020, but might not be next year; and more!
"Thanks to its popular original content, which resonated with viewers forced to entertain themselves at home, Netflix added over 5 million U.S. subscribers over the past year," FastCompany reports. As for other streaming services, "Amazon's Prime Video closed out 2020 with nearly 50 million subscribers, up from roughly 43 million in Q4 of 2019. Hulu now boasts nearly 35 million subscribers, up from 27 million... Apple TV Plus more than doubled its subscribers, from 4 million in Q4 of 2019 to over 8 million in Q4 of this year. Since its launch in early 2020, HBO Max has won over nearly 17 million subscribers. Disney Plus, which ended 2019 with 24 million subscribers, today has 37 million."
Maxim shares a list of new content available on several popular streaming services in January. "While Cobra Kai has gone from an uncertain future on Youtube to a robust entry in Netflix's slate of TV shows, the Karate Kid spinoff and iconic offerings like Eddie Murphy's 1987 standup hit Raw will have some competition on the first day of 2021 from all of Mike Myers's Austin Powers movies hitting Hulu and serial killer series Dexter becoming available on Amazon Prime. All the big-name streamers now have to contend with HBO Max as well, which will begin 2021 with established hits like Quentin Tarantino 's Kill Bill movies starring Uma Thurman and multiple series premieres."
MarketWatch's Mike Murphy offers an opinion on what's worth streaming. After evaluating what streamers liked in 2020, he compared monthly picks from his MarketWatch column with critics' year-end lists and his own list of favorite series from 2020. His conclusions include: "Netflix might have been the most popular service, but it wasn’t the best; HBO Max was the highest-quality service, but less consumer-friendly (while the Roku/Amazon Fire TV issue has now been resolved, it’s still the most expensive); Hulu was the best value for your buck; and Apple TV+ had some gems but was hurt by its shallow library." You can read the rest of his results at the link above.
"Despite all of the competition, Roku still makes my favorite streaming devices," says Tom's Guide, "and with the amount of streaming I've done this year my fondness for them has only grown... There are plenty of reasons why I like Roku, and a big one is that they don't fall within the lines of one of the other big tech companies. A lot of other streaming gadgets are produced by huge rivals, and they've been known to refuse to let competitors access their devices."
However, Gizmodo claims that "[w]ith its latest experience overhaul, Fire TV is finally delivering a user interface that stands up to those of rival streaming devices... the new Fire TV update offers a far better experience for the Alexa set who prefer it to other streaming devices, with new navigation tools for finding content, the addition of user profiles for more customized viewing, and a vastly improved home screen."
If you still aren't sure which streaming device you should buy, ReviewGeek compares Roku, FireTV, and Chromecast, saying that "the set top box market has settled on [these] three major choices — or rather, two major choices and a dark horse." Roku is recommended for bargain hunters and fans of simplicity: "Roku gets our top spot for a couple of reasons. First, it's the most widely available... But Roku is also the most focused of the popular smart TV platforms, if only because its approach is somewhat old-fashioned. Roku’s homepage is about the apps, just the apps, ma’am: Users see a grid of the services they can access, plus live TV and HDMI inputs if their TV is Roku-branded. You have to go into the apps themselves to start browsing content. And thanks to a recent update, Roku also finally has access to HBO Max. In contrast, both Fire TV and Android TV/Chromecast tend to blast you with recommendations for individual shows and movies."RokuGuide.com may receive a referral fee for any purchases or subscriptions made through links on this page. See our full FTC Disclosure Statement for more information.