Peak Streaming TV: The Upsides and Challenges for the Four New Services

Apple TV+ and Disney+ are set to launch next month, with HBO Max and Peacock next up in the spring.
Courtesy of Apple; Lucasfilm/Melinda Sue Gordon; Photofest (2)
From left: 'The Morning Show' (Apple TV+), 'The Mandalorian' (Disney+), 'The Office' (Peacock), 'Friends' (HBO Max)

What's in a brand?

That's the central question that all four of the forthcoming streaming services from media titans Apple, Disney, WarnerMedia and Comcast will be asking themselves in the coming months as they prepare to launch platforms that rival established stalwarts like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and even CBS All Access.

For Disney (Disney+), WarnerMedia (HBO Max) and Comcast (Peacock), that means focusing on corporate synergy from across many of their respective linear networks and spending billions to reclaim their biggest hits that helped to feed the big red beast that is Netflix. Meanwhile, Apple (Apple TV+) will build up its own content library after spending billions on star-studded originals as it eschews the library backbone that many other services are turning to in order to have ample content to draw subscribers.

Below, The Hollywood Reporter offers a guide to all four platforms launching in the next six months and outlines the upsides — and challenges — for each.

APPLE TV+

Launches: Nov. 1 (with scripted originals including The Morning Show, Dickinson, See and For All Mankind)

Pricing: $4.99 per month (free for a year with the purchase of a new Apple product)

The upside: Apple already has billions of potential subscribers with devices in their pockets and purses. Those existing customers can see Jennifer Aniston in her first TV show since Friends with as little effort as the click of a button or swipe.

The challenge: Literally everything else. The biggest tech company in the world has content from other platforms at its disposal — though it'll cost you. The biggest piece missing from TV+ is a library like Friends to serve as the backbone of the service. Still, Apple's multi-billion-dollar spending spree will eventually give them a star-studded roster of shows that, so far, many critics are lukewarm on.



DISNEY+

Launches: Nov. 12 (with originals including The Mandalorian and a new take on High School Musical, plus a new live-action Lady and the Tramp, among others)

Pricing: $6.99 a month 

The upside: Library, library, library. Marvel, Marvel, Marvel. Pixar, Pixar, Pixar. Oh, and Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars. Disney+ has been the clear frontrunner among the quartet of new streamers because of its massive library and strategy to lean hard into its beloved IP. Disney's classic animated movies? Check. Marvel's entire cinematic universe? Yep, that's there, too. Same goes for all things Star Wars and Pixar, plus content from National Geographic and 30-plus seasons of The Simpsons. Oh, and the service will deliver new TV series spinoffs from Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar, plus a score of lesser-known movies from its deep vault.

The challenge: Families with kids have likely already signed up for the service. The same goes for the diehard fanboy. The test will be reaching viewers beyond those two areas. Paging Disney's other more adult-focused service, Hulu, which will be home to FX fare and Disney+ rejects like High Fidelity.

HBO MAX

Launches: Sometime in May 2020 (with originals including Ansel Elgort's Tokyo Vice, Anna Kendrick's Love Life and more)
Pricing: $14.99 a month

The upside: The HBO brand literally paved the way for high-end premium television with shows like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones, both of which will have a streaming home on the service. All things HBO will be joined by other WarnerMedia-owned mega-hits like Friends, The Big Bang Theory and The West Wing, as well as The CW's Batwoman and Katy Keene. Also available: a large swath of Warner Bros.-produced feature films and a few originals.

The challenge: What's a WarnerMedia show, exactly? Originals picked up for the service include everything from a reimagined Boondocks to an animated Gremlins and an Anna Kendrick comedic anthology and TBS import Search Party. Oh, and nothing screams "HBO" quite like a new take on Gossip Girl. Do viewers understand that Friends and Big Bang Theory — shows best known for airing on NBC and CBS, respectively — can be found on a platform with HBO in its name? As HBO Max execs revealed Tuesday, the core focus of originals will be in three spaces: kids and family (Sesame Street, Looney Toons), millennials and Gen Z (see Gossip Girl) and adults — specifically women — with fare like Americanah and Made for Love.

PEACOCK

Launches: A date to be determined in April 2020

Pricing: TBD

The upside: So far, Peacock is the definition of leaning into one brand — NBCUniversal. The platform will launch 15,000 hours of content including libraries for The Office, Parks and Recreation and Saturday Night Live. Other library content will come from throughout the media giant, with 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights, Downton Abbey and Battlestar Galactica joining new takes on Saved by the Bell and BSG.

The challenge: Everything else. How will ad-supported work? How tied to the Comcast business will they need to be versus being a stand-alone service for cord-cutters?