by Mackenzie Arnolds
photo by Chika Okoye
People like to stream. They stream shows, movies, documentaries—essentially anything you can translate onto a screen. In fact, it was uncovered in a recent Forbes article that the average American subscribes to almost 3.5 streaming services at a time, and they pay around $9.00 a month for each. Though this may sound like a lot of subscription video on demand channels (SVOD’s) to keep track of, when you consider the growing number of these services available—from Netflix and Hulu to HBO NOW, Disney+, and many more—deciding which ones to pay for can get tricky. As the holiday season draws near, a subscription to one of these services might be a great gift for someone who wants to add a new SVOD membership to their roster, or at least test one out. Before you make a decision, be sure to do your research and check out a description of some noteworthy services below!
Disney+ is a new streaming service by The Walt Disney Company that, right now, is only $6.99 per month. For that price, you can watch all the shows, movies, and documentaries made by not only Disney, but their other brands like Marvel, Pixar, National Geographic, and Star Wars. One of the main differences between Disney+ and other SVOD channels is that most of its content has already been widely consumed and is heavily entrenched in the zeitgeist. This is both a pro and a con: on the one hand, the platform can deliver a heavy dose of nostalgia to you in the form of your favorite childhood movies and TV shows, but on the other hand, you won’t find a lot of new content on the service. At least, not yet. If the platform’s new show The Mandalorian—which is set in the Star Wars universe and was met with critical acclaim—says anything about what the future holds for Disney+, it’s that their slate of upcoming Marvel original series should not be missed. So, if you or someone you know is a fan of all things Disney, Star Wars, or Marvel, then Disney+ might be the perfect choice.
Starting at just $4.99 a month, Apple TV+ is a new subscription service launched by Apple in November. Unlike Disney+ and all of its heart-warming, family-friendly content, Apple TV+’s shows and movies take on a darker, high-brow tone, and they are all original, newly produced series. Unlike Netflix, which pumps out show after show and movie after movie, often at the expense of quality, Apple TV+ seems to focus on producing premium content that more closely resembles HBO’s high-concept series like Game of Thrones and Succession. Apple TV+ also boasts a plethora of celebrities that are tied to its array of shows, with Oprah, Steve Carrell, Jennifer Aniston, and Reece Witherspoon among them. If any of those names perk your interest, or if you’re craving some new stories to binge, it might be a good idea to try the service’s 7-day free trial.
Whereas some people spend hours binging Netflix shows, others spend hours drifting between videos on YouTube. For this type of content consumer, YouTube Premium might be a worthy service to subscribe to. At $12 per month, subscribers enjoy the ability to watch YouTube videos without ads, save videos in order to watch them offline, and access YouTube Originals. YouTube Originals are the service’s own original series that often star popular YouTubers like Liza Koshy and PewDiePie. Differing from other subscription services like Netflix and Hulu that try to target any and every audience demographic with their content, YouTube Originals primarily target Gen-Z consumers who, according to a survey by Visual Objects, visit YouTube more often than any other site. For the holidays, YouTube Premium would be a great gift for a younger sibling or a friend that spends more time on YouTube than more traditional streaming video on demand platforms.
The Criterion Channel
For all the film snobs out there, The Criterion Channel provides the perfect alternative to more popular streaming services whose content is often saturated and widely varied in terms of quality. At $10.99 per month or $99.99 per year, it gives you access to thousands of award-winning classic, independent, and art-house movies, plus behind-the-scenes features that aren’t available on any other platform. They also offer mini-series that spotlight acclaimed directors, actors, themes, and genres, providing the perfect package for any movie lover!
Much like its name suggests, the DC Universe subscription service offers ultra-niche content to, well, DC fans. At $7.99 per month, it gives users access to select comics, DC classic movies, animated series, and live-action original series based on DC comics. Titans, one of the service’s first original series that is based off of the popular Teen Titans comics and characters, was met with favorable reviews and sets a promising future for the service. Unlike Disney+, whose content is also relatively niche and geared towards superhero fans with Marvel under its belt, the DC Universe seems committed to a generally darker, grittier tone with its original content. So, if you know of any DC fans that haven’t yet bought this service, a subscription to the DC Universe could make the perfect gift for them this holiday season!