Originally posted on MyFantasySportsTalk.
Happy holidays everyone! This year has been quite the rollercoaster, with Covid-19 being (one of) the driving force(s) behind it. Holidays will undoubtedly look different and that unfortunately means we probably won’t get to physically spend time with our families. With all large gatherings out, we’ve all had to improvise how to adjust to our new norm, but the good news is, the year’s almost over. And now, we’re all hoping for better things to come next year.
One positive that’s come out from this crazy year is the fact that being glued to the TV all day (whether you’re binge-watching or playing video games) is now completely exceptional. The problem, though, is that there are so many streaming platforms. First, it was just Netflix and Hulu but now there’s Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and I’m sure many more that I’m forgetting at the moment.
TV Streaming Platforms: The Perfect Gift
So, why not gift your friends and family members a yearlong (or month long, depending on your budget) membership to a streaming platform? It’s much easier than shipping a bunch of various items to all your family members. All it takes is buying a gift card for that platform and all your loved ones have to do is redeem the card. Simple as that. And if you already have a membership with whatever streaming platform you choose, the best part is that you can have a virtual watch party with them (and any other friends and/or family that also has it). Just download the Teleparty (previously Netflix Party) extension on Chrome and schedule a time to watch together.
But the real question when it comes to streaming platforms is which one should I buy (for others)? Well, that’s where we could help. My friend and fellow writer, Jamie, has already picked out the best snack, K-Pop, and specialty subscription boxes you could get so check that out if you’d rather give some physical gifts. Plus, Kira’s also breaking down what the best music and makeup subscription boxes are, so be on the lookout for that as well. But for now, here are the best TV streaming platforms you could gift this holiday season.
The Pioneer: Netflix
Netflix is, without a doubt, the pioneer when it comes to streaming platforms. It’s more than just a streaming service at this point, it’s truly a facet of pop culture. It started the whole binge-watching experience that all of us are doing during quarantine and it’s even become a verb. And at this point, almost everyone uses Netflix whether you have an account or you mooch off a friend’s account because it’s Netflix. There’s always tons of new original content coming out as well as some old favorites. While it’s not known for having the best quality content (comparatively), it’s still the most popular streaming platform.
The Cable Alternative: Hulu
Another choice to gift your loved ones this holiday season is Hulu. I’d say it’s fallen behind in terms of popularity with all the other streaming platforms coming out but it still has a ton of quality original content. Some examples are obviously The Handmaid’s Tale, The Happiest Season (which I highly recommend, by the way), Palm Springs, and many more. But what makes Hulu unique is the option for people to watch live TV.
While I know it’s much cheaper now to cut the cable chord, there’s just something very different about watching live TV. Knowing that other people are watching the same thing at the same time is just a shared experience that a lot of us just miss out nowadays. So, for people that miss live TV or just want to watch one of Hulu’s great originals, Hulu’s definitely the right choice.
Hulu (no ads): $11.99/month
Hulu + Live TV: $54.99/month
Hulu (no ads) + Live TV: $60.99
Most Anticipated: HBO Max
So, HBO Max isn’t a new platform but it is what I’m expecting a lot of people are going to get (if they haven’t already) this upcoming year. Why? Because of the deal they made with Warner Bros. If you didn’t already hear, all of Warner Bros’ 2021 slate in theaters and HBO Max simultaneously (because of how Covid-19’s affected theaters and effectively, theater sales). In other words, a huge game changer in the entertainment industry.
The start of this big change will be Wonder Woman: 1984, which normally would’ve brought a stampede to the theaters. In addition, HBO Max also has the super popular original show, The Undoing (which I still need to watch at some point). So, instead of everyone buying it on Christmas day, buy your loved one an HBO Max membership.
HBO Max: $14.99/month
The Popular Choice: Disney+
Disney+, when it first came out, was a somewhat controversial release. Not because people didn’t want a place to watch all their favorite Disney and Disney-owned (Star Wars, Marvel, etc.) content, but because it meant that it wasn’t going to be on Netflix (or any of the other platforms) anymore. They haven’t all been removed from other platforms yet, but they’ve definitely been disappearing. Just slowly.
But now that it’s been well over a year since, we’re completely fine with it. Especially because Disney+ has the perfect blend of highly-valued content. From iconic Disney princess movies to action-packed Marvel movies, Disney+ truly has it all. Not to mention that their original content is also pretty great (I’m looking at you High School Musical: The Musical, The Mandalorian, Hamilton, and many more). Plus, everyone’s waiting for all those Marvel shows to come out too (The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Hawkeye, ) so, Disney+ is a great choice overall.
Added Bonuses: Amazon Prime Video
If you don’t already have Amazon Prime at this point, I think you already know you’re missing out. Especially this year during quarantine because it’s been a lifesaver for me shopping this holiday season. Amazon Prime Video is just another perk from having Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime Video also has a good amount of content, original or not. Like for example, I’m currently binge-watching Chuck, but some other great titles include Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, The Boys, The Wilds (which just came out and I just finished binge-watching), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and many more. Plus, if you’re a student, you can get Amazon Prime (plus Amazon Prime Video) for half off.
Amazon Prime: $12.99/month
Prime Student: $6.49/month
Big-Budgeted Content for a Low Price: Apple TV+
Apple TV+ is still a fairly new platform, much like Disney+, but it definitely isn’t as high up in terms of popularity and viewership compared to the others. But what Apple TV+ does have is the fact that their original content has a hugely insane budget. About $15 million per episode (for its original content, specifically The Morning Show and See), to be exact. Essentially what this means is that they’ve casted A-list celebrities (Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, Jason Mamoa, Steve Carrell, etc.) and used the best available (AKA blockbuster-level) CGI. All resulting in the best quality content. Some of the best featured consist of The Morning Show, Dickinson, Defending Jacob, and For All Mankind.
While Apple TV+ has had a very slow start comparably, it does also come at a very low price. If you already have an Apple device, you probably already know this, but you can get Apple TV+ for free for an entire year. Most free trials last a week, so Apple definitely wants people to use their platform. Even if they aren’t paying for it yet, because they can afford to do so. However, for people without an Apple device, it’s only $5/month. Which is by far the cheapest platform on this list (at least for a streaming platform without commercials)
Free one year trial for Apple users
Apple TV+: $4.99/month
The Bundle Deal: Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+
When doing my research for this article, I also came across this bundle deal featured on Hulu’s site: Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu. All for just $12.99/month. I hate to admit it, but it’s kind of the perfect deal for a family. Disney+ is more geared towards younger kids (but also, who doesn’t love to watch a Disney classic every once in a while?), ESPN+ for the guys (in general, but sporty girls too), and Hulu’s got those great female-centric originals (i.e. The Handmaid’s Tale, Little Fires Everywhere, Killing Eve, etc.).
Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu: $12.99/month
For the Classics: Peacock Premium
Technically, you can get Peacock for free. But it is, like most free things, limited. Peacock Premium, however, has more content and gives users access to everything that’s on the platform. However, both the free and premium plans include commercials, which many people try to avoid when buying a streaming service. But for me, I really don’t mind the commercials so much because it almost feels like watching live TV (except, I could do without the same ten commercials or so playing every time). For people who don’t have time for the commercials, the Peacock Premium Plan is the plan for them.
But if it’s not, why should anyone buy or watch content from Peacock? Because of all the classic content featured. Peacock, if you didn’t already know, is owned by Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, so they have shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and all the Law & Order shows (the original, Criminal Intent, and Special Victims Unit). But more than that, they also have Hitchcock classics like Psycho, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and they just added most of the James Bond movies. And I’ve only used the free account so far so I’m sure there’s much more content for premium users, like watching live sports games.
Peacock Premium: $4.99/month
Peacock Premium Plus: $9.99/month
For the Anime Lover: Crunchyroll
While I’m not an anime watcher (maybe I will be someday, but that day has yet to come), the majority of my family and a lot of my friends are. Regardless, Crunchyroll is the platform for all things anime. Even though I’m not an anime watcher, I have gotten some recommendations: Death Note (I’ve heard from Dylan is in Trouble on YouTube that the anime show is much better than the U.S-adapted movie), Sword Art Online, Attack on Titan, and My Hero Academia.
Mega Fan: $9.99/month
Ultimate Fan: $14.99/month
So, maybe instead of shipping everyone you love a physical gift, get them a membership for a streaming platform. Remember, to do that, you’ll need to buy gift cards for them. This can either be physical cards you’ll find at any major grocery store or pharmacy. Or you can make it even easier for yourself and purchase a gift card online for the streaming service of your choice.
Whatever you choose, all of us here hope you have a safe and happy holiday season. Also, don’t forget to look out for Kira’s piece on what the best music and beauty subscription boxes are!