For a long time, Netflix was synonymous with “online video content streaming”. It successfully transitioned from mailing DVDs to offering a vast library of content over the internet and it has mastered content creation, too.
For a while, its supremacy was undisputed – competitors like Hulu (mostly rebroadcasting TV content) and Amazon Prime Video (with a much smaller library of original programming) were much lower on the list of the most popular music and video streaming apps and services. But something changed in the final years of the last decade. Many companies have realized that there is a lot of money to be made from online content streaming and suddenly wanted their own service on the market. The last few years have seen the number of video streaming apps and services explode – and great pieces of content flood the market. Here are the biggest and most popular content streaming services and their best programming, at the beginning of 2020.
Right now, Netflix is the biggest name in the content streaming market, both when it comes to the number of countries where it is present and the size of its content library. Its already vast offering was improved at the beginning of this year by the inclusion of Studio Ghibli properties (award-winning anime like My Neighbor Totoro or Spirited Away).
Last December, Netflix launched its insanely successful fantasy tv series “The Witcher”, and this year, it added the live-action adaptation of Joe Hill’s fantasy graphic novel “Locke & Key” to the list. Later in the year, we can expect to see the second season of the epic cyberpunk series “Altered Carbon”, and a whole list of original programming covering everything from anime to docudramas and reality shows hit the service’s virtual shelves.
Over the last decade, Disney has piled up a veritable treasure trove of intellectual property: it acquired Lucasfilm and the entire Star Wars universe, it engulfed Fox and its properties ranging from Aliens to the X-Men, and Marvel with its endless stream of superheroes (and villains, of course). And it recently decided to put these to good use through its online content streaming service called Disney+, launched late last year.
The service made its debut with a long-awaited piece of content – “The Mandalorian”, the first live-action series set in the Star Wars universe. For this year, it has more goodies planned for release, including Marvel shows like “WandaVision” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, a new season of “The Clone Wars”, a second season for “The Mandalorian”, and many others based on Disney’s existing or new content library.
Apple is known as a tech giant – and now it’s trying its luck in the media production and distribution business, too. It’s brand new streaming service called Apple TV+ was launched last November with a strong lineup of original content, including series like “See” with Jason Momoa, “For All Mankind”, and “The Morning Show”, the highest-budget sitcom in history.
For this year, the service has many other pieces of content coming: “Mythic Quest”, a scripted comedy series about the misadventures of a video game development team starring Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day, “Amazing Stories”, an anthology series with legendary director Steven Spielberg as a producer, “Central Park”, an animated musical comedy from the creator of “Bob’s Burgers”, and many more. And, at a yet undisclosed date, the service will add Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” to its roster.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon, like Apple, is venturing into the unknown with its Prime video streaming service. It started adding original content to its library a while ago, and it started going strong recently with the acquisition of a few major properties, including the rights to turn “The Lord of the Rings” into a series.
Last year, it has launched a few truly exceptional pieces of content – perhaps the ones to stand out the most were “The Boys”, an edgy superhero series based on Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s graphic novel, and “Good Omens”, an apocalyptic tale inspired by a book written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
For this year, Amazon has a lot of fresh content in store for its subscribers, including a new season of “The Boys”, the third season of the fantasy series “American Gods”, “THEM: Covenant”, a new horror anthology series, and “The Walking Dead: World Beyond”, a series that follows the first group of survivals born in a world overrun by zombies in the “Walking Dead” universe
Finally, let us mention HBO Max, the upcoming online streaming service from Warner. It will be the melting pot of pretty much all Warner content libraries, including The Criterion Collection, the series produced for The CW (not HBO, though), many BBC properties (including Doctor Who and Top Gear), and a complete lineup of original programming, ranging from science fiction (Dune: The Sisterhood) and superhero series (Green Lantern) to reality shows, documentaries, and everything in between. HBO Max is expected to launch this May.
Services tied to TV channels
There are many online streaming services tied to traditional TV channels. One of the most talked-about right now is CBS All Access, best known for its brand new Star Trek programming. The service made its debut with the prequel series “Star Trek: Discovery” in 2017, and it added a brand new series to its roster this year: the long-awaited “Star Trek: Picard”, that we can consider a sequel to “The Next Generation”. In the near future, the channel plans to launch new Star Trek properties, including the comedy series “Star Trek: Lower Decks”, and a series about the deeds of the infamous “Section 31” starring Michelle Yeoh as Captain/Emperor Philippa Georgiou.
Another similar service is Hulu that recently joined the Mouse House. Despite launching its own branded streaming service, Disney has no plans to discontinue Hulu – instead, it plans to expand its reach worldwide.