The market for streaming television and movies has seen a lot of growth in recent years. This has given consumers a range of new choices for seeing their favorite programs and films via their in-home internet connection and smart TV (or any other connected viewing device in the home, for that matter). In addition, an increasing number of streaming services are producing their own original content, making their platforms the only place to see some of today’s most talked-about new shows and movies.
And while most consumers are aware of the longtime market leaders in video streaming, including big names like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube TV and Sling, many might not be as familiar with some of the newcomers. So, to help binge watching-ready consumers make sure they are on top of the latest offerings, here is a list of the five leading streaming video services that have been introduced over the last few years, along with a few new must-see, streaming-only films and shows to keep an eye out for on them:
- Disney+: A great option for families and fans of popular franchises like Star Wars and Marvel, the Disney+ video-on-demand service was launched in November 2019. In the United States, the streaming service divides its available content into five dedicated hubs:
– Disney — offers a vast catalog of animated classics like Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty and Lady and the Tramp, live-action movies like Cruella, Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean, and a range of Disney originals, series and specials
– Pixar — features a library of well-known Pixar movies like Up, The Incredibles, Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Cars and Finding Nemo, plus a long list of originals and shorts
– Marvel — focuses on Marvel Studios films like Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers, Black Widow, Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy
– Star Wars — contains all of the major Star Wars film releases plus a selection of originals, series and specials like The Mandalorian, The Clone Wars and Star Wars Biomes
– National Geographic — offers a collection of documentaries and shows focused on science, nature and history
Must-catch content pick: Set after the events of Return of the Jedi, new Star Wars series The Book of Boba Fett is a spin-off of The Mandalorian. The first season follows the adventures of crime lord and bounty hunter Boba Fett as he attempts to take over some of Jabba the Hutt’s former galactic turf.
- Apple TV+: Owned by computer maker Apple and launched in November 2019, Apple TV+ delivers a wide range of original content. Highlights among the offerings include series such as The Morning Show, starring Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, and The Shrink Next Door, starring Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd. The service also airs acclaimed original movies such as Palmer with Justin Timberlake, kids’ programs like The Snoopy Show and Puppy Place, and documentaries including The World’s a Little Blurry with mega-pop star Billie Eilish.
Must-catch content pick: The winner of a long list of accolades including Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, Peabody and Primetime Emmy awards, sports comedy-drama series Ted Lasso stars Saturday Night Live alumnus Jason Sudeikis as an American football coach hired to coach a British soccer team. Despite having no experience coaching soccer and (unknowingly) being hired in an effort to sabotage the team’s fortunes, title character Lasso finds success on the pitch while winning over his players, staff and boss with his infectious wit and charm.
- Discovery+: Launched in the United States in January 2021, Discovery+ offers more than 55,000 episodes of shows from Discovery-company networks including the Discovery Channel, A&E, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet and Travel Channel. It is a great streaming option for viewers who like to learn while being entertained and inspired. Widely recognized names among the shows’ stars and hosts include Chip and Joanna Gaines, Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri and the “Property Brothers,” Jonathan and Drew Scott.
Must-catch content pick: Produced by the BBC as a sequel to the popular Planet Earth nature documentary series, Planet Earth II treats viewers to stunningly beautiful scenes from around the world, all while exploring the often-wondrous ways wild animals survive in some of the harshest and most iconic natural habitats on the planet.
- Paramount+: Originally launched as CBS All Access in 2014, this streaming service was relaunched as the expanded and rebranded Paramount+ in March 2021. The service offers more than 2,500 on-demand movies such as Airplane!, Fight Club and The SpongeBob Movie, as well as more than 30,000 TV episodes, including originals like Star Trek Discovery and archived content from networks including CBS, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV and the Smithsonian Channel. It also broadcasts live sports including NFL football, college basketball, PGA Tour golf and Premier League soccer.
Must-catch content pick: A prequel to the popular Western drama Yellowstone (more on that just below), 1883 stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill as the pioneering Dutton family. The series follows the couple as they trek through the challenging frontier lands between 1800s Texas and Montana, where they eventually settle and found the Yellowstone Ranch.
- Peacock: Owned by NBCUniversal and launched in the United States in July 2020, Peacock features hundreds of popular movies such as Shrek and Bridesmaids, hit TV shows like The Office, This Is Us and America’s Got Talent, and live sports including The Winter Olympics and NFL football. It also delivers a broad assortment of originals such as Bel-Air, a dramatic modern take on beloved comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Saved by the Bell, a 21st century revival of the popular 1990s sitcom of the same name.
Must-catch content pick: Starring Kevin Costner as John Dutton, Western series Yellowstone tells the story of a Montana family struggling to protect its cattle ranch from wealthy land developers, hungry wolves, self-interested politicians and other challenges of the Wild West that threaten to disrupt their humble way of life.
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