Sunday, March 31, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #155

1) Hulu: First it cut prices. Now it is reducing commercials. What a novel strategy--trying to appeal to customers by making the product more attractive.

2) MLB TV: Baseball is back! MLB did me a solid by making the Pirates the free game of the day, but if you want to check out the whole season, an annual sub is yours for the price of $140, which, rumors to the contrary, is indeed less than the Pirates' 2019 payroll.

3) Netflix: Any hopes I had that the Lori Loughlin scandal would make Netflix pull Fuller House were squashed as my kids continued their third or fourth series rewatch. Meanwhile, Santa Clarita Diet launches season 3 (!) this weekend, and I am interested in Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson in The Highwaymen, a movie about the guys who pursued Bonnie and Clyde.

4) YouTube: Lots of great old stuff showed up here this week, with my favorite being this match courtesy of the great Monsoon Classic:

I was mad about this match and the result for--well, I still get upset thinking about it! I was glad to review the original broadcast experience, though.

5) Boomerang: It added the most content I can remember in some time, throwing up Captain Cavemen and the Teen Angels and several of the NBC Flintstones revivals, like The Flintstones Comedy Show. I actually kind of want to sigh up for a month to check some of this out now.

6) Philo: My current jam is American Soul on BET, which I can see through Philo. On another note, AMC on Demand is the absolute worst as far as commercial interruptions go--ads early and often, including the same Killing Eve trailer twice during the same break. If you think that's gonna get people to buy AMC Premium, you are wrong. It's just gonna annoy people.

7) Locast: I was glad to be able to sit down and watch some of the NCAA Tournament through Locast, only to find out I had screwed up and missed the game I wanted to see.

8) HBO: Welcome back, Barry and Veep! I liked 2017's 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which I caught before it exited the service this week.

9) Sling TV: It's offering some heavy discounts to grab new subs, and it also added MLB Network just in time for the season. In a period in which DirectTV Now and Fubo are hiking their prices, Sling deserves credit for looking the other way.

10) PIX11: The good news is it finished its Only in New York documentary series and also added a 1990 tribute to Phil Rizzuto. The bad news is, wow, it had some big-time buffering issues on my Roku the other day.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #154

1) Tubi TV: It really is happening! Universal series like The A-Team, The Bionic Woman, and Magnum P.I. are showing up here. The deal was announced just a few weeks ago, and it's good to see it going into effect so soon. Fingers crossed for Kojak and Quincy, everyone.

2) DC Universe: I watched a while lot of DCU last week since my trial period was expiring, but I was a little surprised at how unceremoniously it ended. When I canceled, there was no attempt to lure me back--no discount, not even a "Are you SURE?" screen. Just, OK, see you. On one hand, I appreciate the ease of terminating it. I was a little surprised they were so cavalier about it, though.

3) Hulu: Quiet week for Hulu, bit it's a quiet week all around. Right now I'm just hoping Disney, which now has primary control, doesn't screw up a service that has improved year after year.

4) Netflix: I can't pretend to know anything about The OA or that it was getting another season, but it's back, along with a biopic based on the Motley Crue book The Dirt, a tome so sleazy I had to put it down for a while. Also debuting: a lot of foreign series and (noooooo) a reality show about real estate sales.

5) YouTube: I really don't know what the 1985 Miss Hollywood Pageant is, but I appreciate that someone posted the whole thing (apparently), and I may well end up watching it.

6) The CW: I may be wrong on this, but I think the commercial load on here is smaller than it is in the CW on demand versions I got on YouTube TV.

7) Criterion Channel: This upcoming SVOD service launches April 8 but generated excitement this week with a list of its special programming selections planned for its debut month. It looks like it will replicate the spirit and curation of Filmstruck, and it will be licensing titles from a wide variety of sources. That's the good news. The bad news is 11 bucks a month is probably too expensive for this kind of service...but we'll see what it offers when it premieres.

8) Pix 11: The cool "Only in New York" true crime series continues this week with a look at the 1987 Joel Steinberg case. These mini-docs combine modern perspectives with archival WPIX footage.

9) Philo: I will be exploring this "Sling without news and sports" (gross oversimplification, but not totally off base) service more in the coming weeks, but it's getting a lot of attention from cordcutters disgusted with DirectTV Now's latest price hikes.

10) Ed Wood Channel: This new Roku channel looks as low budget as it gets, but isn't that appropriate? At least you get a big batch of Ed Wood movies all in one spot.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #153

1) Netflix: A motley assortment of originals gets the headlines this week--Idris Elba is a DJ in a sitcom, a Ben Affleck heist movie, new seasons of Queer Eye and Arrested Development. Hey, remember when Arrested Development was a thing? Personally I stuck to a few scattered episodes of originals and my comfort food of classic sitcoms. My kids suddenly turning to Fuller House yet again makes me wish Netflix would use the Lori Loughlin scandal as a way to just pull the entire series.

2) Hulu: It premiered Shrill this week, added the Oscar-winning doc Free Solo, and announced a bundle deal  in conjunction with Spotify. Its live-TV service is bound to get a lot of new subscribers, too, given AT&T's apparent desire to drive everyone away from its DirectTV Now.

3) DC Universe: I always support FREE here, and DC gets credit for making first episodes of its original productions available without membership. I've been exploring some of the weirder corners of the DC world, like Wonder Woman going undercover as a singer and Superboy tangling with Gilbert Gottfried.

4) Amazon Prime: Debuts the final season of Catastrophe this weekend. I think I've added about two dozen Discovering... documentaries about movie stars in recent weeks; maybe I should start watching them. Perhaps the oddest thing added this week--and that says a lot given how much junk shows up on here--is an episode of a 1966 San Fran children's show hosted by...Anton LaVey!

5) PIX11: After months of adding nothing of interest (meaning archival footage) to its Roku channel, PIX unveiled the first two installments of its Only in New York digital series--mini documentaries about true crime subjects of interests to New Yorkers. The Goetz subway shooting was first up. This is cool free stuff. In a nice little touch, in the wake of the announcement that Tom Seaver was retiring from public life for health reasons, PIX also added a vintage clip of Tom Seaver in the Yankees broadcast booth.

6) CBS All Access: It's giving away codes for a free month again, but it also showed some momentum this week with Star Trek: Discovery ending and The Good Fight beginning.

7) HBO: It's now included in the main DirectTV Now packages, which would be good if it weren't part of a massive price hike. I watched The Darkest Hour this week, which isn't an outstanding movie but which has that compelling Gary Oldman performance as Winnie Churchill.

8) Acorn TV: Its new series Manhunt with Martin Clunes looks like a worthwhile endeavor.

9) YouTube: Does anyone else think that we'd be talking a lot more about the stupid aspects of YT if not for Facebook and Twitter?

10) Tubi TV: I'm gonna be eager for those old Universal shows, but Tubi just added the short-lived but intriguing Showtime series Roadies. That's good for people like me who don't have Showtime, but it certainly makes Showtime look small time.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #152

Welcome once again to the longest-running weekly feature...on this blog.

1) Netflix: My latest temporary deep dive is Frasier, and, wow, the more I rewatch it, the more I think the series is actually underrated. Netflix also debuted Ricky Gervais' new series and a Clark Johnson joint starring Alfre Woodard (Juanita) that sounds like the kind of movie people who lament the lack of "serious" movies in the theater ought to watch.

2) Hulu: Now that I don't have YouTube TV but remain without cable, I have renewed appreciation for Hulu stockpiling current shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

3) Amazon Prime Video: Tin Star season 2 premiered this weekend, but honestly I'm more likely to watch Stingray, which also came to Prime this week. The Stephen J. Cannell shows have found a HOME on Prime!

4) YouTube: I don't have YouTube TV, but I still marvel at how much my children seek out YT over any other content source these days, including Netflix. A little Disney Now, yes, but, man, that Disney + can't come fast enough if the company wants to keep its grip on the young'uns.

Plus one of the channels I subscribe to posted episodes of Star Search and partial episodes of The Morton Downey Jr. Show and The Byron Allen Show.

5) DC Universe: If you're watching some of the new original live-action programming on here and you worry about what kind of budget they have to work with, well, just watch the old syndicated Adventures of Superboy episodes in the library.

6) Parsons Jarrett Wrestling: Non-wrestling fans, bear with me. This is a brand-new totally free Roku channel offering samplings from many of the big territories whose tape libraries are not controlled by WWE, plus some added value in the form of new intros and interviews. Best new channel to hit Roku in months.

7) The CW: See #2.

8) Shout! Factory TV: I continue to explore the fascinating time capsule that is the 1970s PBS series Soul!  which offers Stokely Carmichael in one episode and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes in the next.

9) HBO: It should have been a great week for HBO with the deserved buzz for eviscerating Jacko witn the Finding Neverland documentary, another eagerly anticipated doc in The Case Against Adnan Sayed, and making the Internet go crazy with yet another Game of Thrones trailer. Yet there's an air of sadness because AT&T is making its presence felt, and just about everyone assumes it will ruin HBO. Let's enjoy it will while we can!

10) NBC: Starz might have earned a slot due to the premiere of season 2 of American Gods, but I lost track of how many reviews spotlighted some variation of the word "boring." So instead, NBC gets in due to me actually putting some of their "Throwback" shows on as background this week...and kudos to them for leaving so much library content up for free.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #151

Let's get to it, folks. This was such a big week for news and events that the usual first-of-the-month add assortment doesn't have the impact it normally would.

1) YouTube/YouTube TV: Let's give a final shout to YouTube TV, which I think is by far the best overall cordcutter live TV service (I haven't tried Hulu yet). I am saying goodbye to it for now, but I am pleased to learn I can pause my membership and keep my settings AND DVR recordings for several months in case I want to reactivate it later.  On price, channel lineup, overall performance, and especially the unlimited DVR, I think YouTube TV bests everyone else out there that I have sampled.

2) Hulu: I did start diving into Hulu this past week, and the service dropped it's base subscription by two bucks, which warrants a high spot in any list. Plus the live TV part of it reportedly passed DirectTV Now by reaching 2 million subscribers, now trailing only Sling.

3) Netflix: Netflix is only number 3 because of extraordinary circumstances.  I got on a big Friends roll again this week, and more importantly, the streamer did so well at the Oscars (most notably Alfonso Cuaron's Best Director win for Roma) that Steven Spielberg felt the need to declare that IT MUST BE STOPPED.

4) Amazon Prime Video: Any other week, Amazon might be higher on the strength of new original series The Widow with Kate Beckinsale (though I heard surprisingly little buzz about it), plus the entire run of Little House on the Prairie, The Practice/Boston Legal, and The Unit.

5) Tubi TV: Kudos to Tubi--ad supported but free, remember--for announcing a major licensing deal with Comcast/NBC/Universal/Woody Woodpecker/Whatever it is that will bring old series like Magnum P.I. and Battlestar Galactica, plus others that haven't been rebooted (why no Punky Brewster V 2.0?) to the service. Tubi ain't messing around, and there go my fears that Comcast would save all its library content for its OWN forthcoming streaming service.

6) DC Universe: Doom Patrol seems to be holding strong, but I am checking out the original Young Justice on here, a show I didn't "get" the first time around.

7) HBO: The explosive Jacko documentary is making headlines, plus it debuts Skyscraper, which on one hand is a "see it in a theater" movie but on the other seems like a "wait for HBO" movie. I final saw Justice League on here this week, too. W

8) Disney Now: I sure hope my kids aren't too bummed when they find out I don't have authentication through YT anymore.

9) MLB TV: Because baseball is back1 Yes, exhibition games, but it's baseball!

10) Starz: I give it props for adding Good Times and re-adding Diff'rent Strokes to its Starz Black channel as well as the on demand offerings on the network and the app.