Which Streaming Service Are You Watching Most During The Pandemic?

Netflix and chill.

That’s the answer right now. It was #2.

#1 through most of last year was Amazon Prime Video. Roku third. Then Vudu. Then DCU (mostly for Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman TV series). We don’t have any other paid streaming subscriptions at the moment.

While everyone’s spending a lot more time at home streaming video, Netflix is taking more than its fair share of viewing. Thirty-five percent of people are watching more Netflix than any other streaming service, according to a March 29 survey from Morning Consult. The next closest competitor is Disney’s Hulu, at 10%. Disney+ came in at 4%.

Netflix Is Winning the “Streaming Wars”

Netflix specializes in and has popularized on the internet binge watching and right now the 7-part mini-series, Tiger King is the poster child of success on the platform:

The only live TV available to people is the news, and that doesn’t provide any escapism. Netflix was never invested in live TV. Executives have reiterated they don’t want to be in that space. Tiger King,with its instant meme-making moments and its availability to more than 167 million subscribers, gives Netflix an advantage in a world where live TV has all but diminished.

Tiger King is a viral success because Netflix rules the jungle

I tried watching Tiger King, but honestly the subject matter wasn’t for me. I’m not big on wild animals in captivity stories. This isn’t a review and there probably won’t be one here, so we’re going to miss out on joining in on the popularity. If you liked Tiger King, you’re welcome to tell me about it in the comments section. My Twitter has been raging and I’ve read other bloggers talking about it, but reader views are welcome here.

Back to why Amazon isn’t #1 right now, because there’s a better public service announcement than trying to get a little Tiger King love from the masses.

WARNING: Hacking is on the rise during the pandemic

Recently, our Amazon Prime account was hacked and compromised. If you aren’t using two-factor authentication for Amazon, use it. In fact, use two-factor authentication on every important website involving any kind of commerce activity. Your banking naturally, Google, Amazon, etc.

Yes, beware, hackers are out there. I called Amazon and notified them that someone was up to no good (we knew right away there was a problem) trying to make unauthorized purchases through our Amazon account (that we’ve had since mid 2000s).

Alas, they locked down our account and that was the end. That’s been well over a month ago and our Amazon Prime came up for renewal and could not renew since everything was disabled. We reached customer service the middle of last month and they said our account had to be “sanitized” first before it could be restored.

Their sanitation department is either out or severely limited. I understand.

Call Amazon and you get a message that right now due to the virus their customer service has been impacted. I email and get no answer. I understand.

So, whenever this is over we’ll get the account restored, but in the meantime, the established Amazon account I’ve had for over 13 years is disabled and locked.

My wife started a brand new Amazon account. She ordered some items through there, in fact. We’ll probably have to setup Amazon Prime Video through there to be able to start streaming through there again.

Your turn.

Please share your streaming story during the pandemic. What streaming service are you watching the most right now?

Disney Pleases Movie Fans, Flexes in Front of National Theater Owners (NATO): Artemis Fowl will be Summer Disney+ Release

The House of Mouse just posed in front of the mirror, pecs, abs, muscles bulging.

Perhaps it’s another month — minimum — of stay at home orders and theaters being closed or it’s the big D further promoting their hit Disney+ service, or maybe they just want to generate some (any!) good press at a time where most press is gloom and doom.

“With audiences largely unable to attend theatres in the current environment, we are thrilled to offer the premiere of ‘Artemis Fowl’ on Disney+,” said Ricky Strauss, President, Content & Marketing, Disney+. “Director Kenneth Branagh and his spectacular cast take viewers right into the vibrant, fantasy world of the beloved book, which fans have been waiting to see brought to life onscreen for years. It’s great family entertainment that is the perfect addition to Disney+’s summer lineup.”

Disney Pulls ‘Artemis Fowl’ From Theaters, Will Debut on Disney+

It will be interesting to see if the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) snipes at them — the 800 pound gorilla — like they did with Universal for daring to release a new wide release movie outside of theaters.

It should be noted that Disney has pushed most of their titles back, in anticipation and support of theaters opening again … someday. What that landscape will look like whenever that is will largely remain a question of how long they’ve been closed. AMC, the biggest theater chain on the block, seems financially to be the most vulnerable, but time will tell.

My guess is NATO is busy crapping in their collective pants, hoping and praying that more studios don’t start cutting deals to release some of their films on streaming. It’s a fine line to walk: piss off the “exhibitors” (talk about a snobby title, they don’t even consider themselves “movie theaters”) or give people stuck at home some way to see new movies they were hoping to see.

If this pandemic goes into summer, the movie theater busiest months, there could be more titles making the jump. The studios realize there is a captive audience at home right now, eager to watch new movies. The smartest thing they can do is to filter at least some of their content into that pipeline.

If Trolls World Tour opening Friday April 10 — on VOD — does well (buy your virtual tickets, this will matter), mark my words: more new movie titles will be coming.

Not saying it should be the large budget tentpole movies, but the medium and lower budget movies should definitely consider going to the highest streaming bidder and/or VOD with some kind of lucrative split arrangement.

For those reading that think I’m sticking it to the movie theaters when they’re down, nothing could be further from the truth (see: One Big Reason Why Movie Theaters Will Be OK Compared To Streaming). I just want to see some new movies at home during the time so many people are home.

Why can’t we have both? New movies over the next 90 days and new movies when the theaters reopen?

Quibi Streaming Service for Phones Launches April 6 – Will You Check Out The 90 Day Free Trial?

One new, micro-sized streaming service that we haven’t talked about here yet is Quibi. The title stands for “Quick bites.”

Official website: https://quibi.com/

It will be original TV shows delivered in 10 minutes or less episodic chunks specifically formatted to our cell phones. The brainchild of Meg Whitman and Jeffery Katzenberg, it’s not a completely original idea that seems to be targeting YouTube and Netflix in an unusual way.

Though Quibi touts its approach as unique, it’s been done before. Snap Originals, for example, tried shows with five-minute episodes in 2015 and again in 2018. It’s still going, but Verizon’s similar Go90 service couldn’t cut it. Today, the short-form video leaders are undoubtedly TikTok and Instagram, and they’re both free.

What Is Quibi? Everything You Need to Know About the ‘Quick Bite’ Streaming Service | PCMag

They are going to have 50 shows at launch including a mix of movies, news and assorted other content. Here’s a trailer for one called, Survive:

This service has my curiosity piqued, but not in a huge way for a few reasons:

  1. My eyesight sucks, and watching on a small cell phone screen (I’ve got a Note 10+ and that’s on the bigger side) is not a desirable viewing experience (for me). I’ve done it, can do it when nothing bigger is available, but a tablet screen is pretty much the minimum (see: Where Do You MOST Watch Movies? (Theater, TV, Computer, Tablet, Phone))
  2. Not sure I will like 10 minute edited clips at a time, forming a larger creative work. 10 minutes is a couple scenes really, maybe one really long scene. Then again, maybe this length is enough to keep one engaged and interested? 10 minutes feels like a good length for a movie review (most of ours are 5 minutes or less, but a small few have approached 10 minutes).
  3. What demographic is this targeting? Doesn’t seem like people over 50, but the founders are both in their 60s. See #1.
  4. 2 billion invested in this idea? Probably the street cred of Whitman and Katzenberg helped, as well as the promise of advertising on a cell phone, a device that almost everybody owns in the civilized world. It’s a great platform for communication and YouTube videos, but is it for … movies?

None of what above dismisses the possible idea as being viable. Maybe it will be the next greatest thing, but I’m skeptical. From 2003-2009 I covered tech pretty closely and signed up for just about anything and everything that moved, this doesn’t jump out at me as a winning concept. I could be wrong. I’ll check it out and give it a try. The trailers are promising.

Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/Quibi

Curious what you think about Quibi?

Will you be checking it out? 90 day free trial is hardly a losing proposition, except for your time if it turns out underwhelming. Do you want to see movies and TV shows broken down into 10 minute (or less) segments?

One Big Reason Why Movie Theaters Will Be OK Compared To Streaming

Amazon Originals section as of March 2020 … nothing promoting what’s coming soon

As moviegoers continue to wait for theaters to reopen, I’ve been thinking about something that streaming doesn’t do as well as movie theaters.

Scratch that. I’m being too kind. Movie and TV originals on streaming promotion is convoluted, largely absent and/or confusing.

Let’s take new wide release movies. If you want to watch a new movie that is advertised chances are better than good you’ll find it at many different movie theaters near where you live. Whether or not we like the 20 minutes of trailers before the new movie plays, it’s a captive promotional vehicle that succeeds in catching our interest in upcoming titles. The more times we see these trailers, the more anticipation builds (or wanes if the trailer sucks).

I could argue that non-wide releases are very similar to what happens to older movies. Those you missed in the theater that enter the complicated licensing morass world of streaming.

Where does the movie end up after its theatrical run? You can pay (too much) in the VOD market buying the streaming or physical media. But what if you don’t want to do that? What if you just want to view it on the streaming channels you’re paying for already without paying an additional rental fee?

Good luck!

HBO, a premium subscription channel, gets a lot of new movies first, but, again, only certain licensed movies. Before HBO, you might catch the movie on an airplane or in a hotel room playing on the “still in theaters” or “just left theaters” movie rotation. After that, it’s the premium channels maybe. After that, maybe Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu or ____, see, it’s confusing.

We would like to see the movie on a streaming channel we’re already paying for, so how can this be done? I don’t want to go into Sherlock Holmes mode looking for where a movie will stream and when.

The new movie coming soon promotion model just works better in movie theaters than it does at home. Go see it at the movie theater and you actually, really have a good chance of seeing it. Once it leaves the movie theater, you can maybe still catch it on VOD or buy the blu-ray, but after that … it’s anybody’s guess when and where it will appear on streaming.

Maybe the studios want it this way so that you have to buy the physical media and/or digital copy? The problem is who wants to buy something that may have zero rewatchability? Yes, you can pay the $3.99-$6.99 rental fee and see what you think. If you love it, then you can pay another $10-20 to buy it.

Maybe the rentals should discount the purchase price? That might make paying $3.99-6.99 more attractive as a rental. I think part of why Redbox took off so well is the convenience (big red boxes in easy to locate areas) and inexpensive rental fees. $1-2 is the sweet spot for rentals. I’d rent more if the price was $1-2. At $4-7, I’m thinking about just waiting for it to appear on the streaming channels I’m already paying for monthly subscriptions.

How many other movie watchers think like this?

Original Movies and TV Shows on Streaming

Now, let’s look at new original movies on streaming. Amazon Prime originals, Netflix Originals, Hulu Originals, Disney+, HBO MAX, Peacock, Apple TV+ and the list goes on. There are too many different places for even someone like me who wants to follow new movies.

I’ll give you a perfect example. Anthology shows. Love them! Some readers know The Twilight Zone (classic) is my favorite. I recently learned Amazon Prime has a new one coming out called Tales from the Loop on April 3 (see: FIRST LOOK: Tales From The Loop (TV Series) – Amazon). Probably wouldn’t have known about this had I not stumbled upon a random article about it from inverse.com: TALES FROM THE LOOP IS AN EMOTIONAL SCI-FI BINGE FOR A HOPELESS TIME.

Why don’t we see advertising for this on Amazon Prime? Why doesn’t the Amazon Prime interface show me what’s coming soon in their “Originals” area? Instead, all we see is what they already have. Take a look at the screenshot at the top of this post. Nothing about what’s coming soon. April 3 is this week away and a new anthology TV series is coming out and there is nothing promoting it on their own channel!

This doesn’t happen with new wide release movies. We get trailers, articles, advance discussion and then the movie is out and we can go see it from local theaters. In the streaming world, even when we’re subscribed to channels, we too often don’t have this organized promotion.

Netflix is better about promoting their original content. They do have an area on the side of the interface entitled “coming soon” and you can see what’s coming and when. Kudos to them for being one of the few that actively promotes their new, original shows. They also make trailers for some of their new movies. Just recently, we were able to make FIRST LOOK for two Netflix Original movies coming in April 2020. Yay! This is promising. I wish everybody making new movies and TV shows would do this.

Help us out here. Those of us with movie and TV blogs. Make it easier to know when you have something original and new coming out. Throw us a bigger bone so we can get excited and write about it and spread the awareness to others.

Maybe they already are and I’m just not digging around in the right search keywords and subsections of streaming websites. Ask yourself, though, if someone who follows this information, who wants to write about this is having difficulty how are you going to get the attention of someone who just enjoys watching?

Until streaming finds a better way to organize and unite promoting their original projects — and yes, they could get better about this someday — movie theaters have little to worry about with moviegoers. We’ll go to the theater where we know when we can see it. Yeah, we’ll pay more than we should for the concessions, but won’t have to wait for the pricier rental in 60-90 days or buy something that we may not even have liked watching the first time to collect digital or real dust.

This is the big reason movie theaters need not worry about current day streaming. It’s possible streaming improves and organizes their marketing and promotional efforts. Until then, however, if you want to see what’s new, you go to the theaters or wait for the physical media and/or VOD rental. Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess when and where it will come out.

How do you track movies you’d like to see showing up on streaming channels? Do you use services like JustWatch to track them down? Do you wait them out for VOD, premium and then hope they show up on Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc (see: Why Some Movies Are Impossible To Find Online)? What is your strategy for tracking down where to watch them?

Yes, Some Are Paying $20 to Rent New Movies – But Is This The Right Price Point?

The two movies circled in red are the only movies above that we haven’t seen yet

There are two movies right now we’d like to see that were ever so briefly in theaters and haven’t seen yet: I Still Believe and Emma.

So, are people willing to spend $20 to rent a theatrical movie at home? It seems the answer is yes… Especially if that movie is The Invisible Man. And I have a feeling that Trolls World Tour from Universal, which will be available to rent for $19.99 for a 48-hour viewing window beginning April 10, will be an even bigger at-home hit for parents looking to keep their kids occupied during this time of social distancing.

Are People Willing to Pay $20 to Rent a Movie? The Invisible Man Seems to Suggest Yes

Admittedly, am wrestling with the price: $19.99 for a 48 hour rental. Now, before anybody jumps on me for hypocrisy. For saying that I want to see more new movies released during the time the theaters are closed. This doesn’t mean I want to pay 20 bucks to see every one of these movies as a rental.

Why am I hesitating? I pay $15 and change for a large popcorn, butter and large soda with almost every movie we see and don’t think twice. It’s not really a financial quandary and yet it is.

Most of us look at price tags. We weigh the pros and cons of our hard earned money.

When Trolls World Tour releases on VOD on April 10 for the same price presumably, I think that will be an almost instant buy. We enjoyed the other Trolls movies and our grandchildren like the Trolls. Just for them to be able to rewatch 4-6 times in 48 hours is well worth the money.

Get to it, then, why am I hesitating over these other two movies?

Neither one of them were movies I really, really wanted to see, nor my wife. I Still Believe more than Emma and also it’s really the fact that they are rentals, not owned titles.

(subconscious saying: excuses, excuses!)

If I’m patient 60-90 days, I’ll save $30 USD or so, because the rental price will drop from $19.99 to $5 or so. That’s what happens with all new movie titles eventually, especially when they end up on streaming. Thirty bucks for a couple months worth of patience for movies that I want to see, but not see badly.

So, why not just wait?

Maybe I can catch one or both of them HBO Max (am subscribing when that is released) and that would even further increase the savings. Will HBO Max launch in May as planned?

(no good reason for them not to, captive large audience at home, this is the golden time to release a new streaming service)

Wonder how many others are doing the same ying-yang dance with these VOD rental prices? I don’t really understand why we can’t own the title now, instead of having to rent it when the price ultimately will be the same in a couple months. If it’s a movie you’re going to want to see more than once, absolutely that rental price is reasonable (ahem, Trolls World Tour), but if it turns out being one of those one and done movies or, worse, one that can’t even be finished then the $20 price just seems like double punishment.

Also, weighing in my mind is that for $21/month I can see that same movie every day once per day as long as it’s in theaters. It just lowers the VOD rental value significantly, even though right now that plan is on hiatus and theaters are closed. If the theaters reopen in a month from when they closed — that would be the weekend of April 17 — then maybe these two movies will still be available to see in the theater?

All this indecision … over thirty bucks. What can I say, these are strange, unusual times. Part of me wants to support VOD and just pay the $40, shut up, watch and (hopefully) be entertained. The other part says wait it out and use that $30 to fill the gas tank for a work week.

(yes, I’m still working right now)

Or, perhaps best idea yet, buy $30 food and donate to the food back for others who aren’t able to work right now. Kara paid for groceries for a woman the other day. A lot of people are out of work right now, so this whole post waffling over paying $20 for a VOD rental being worth it might seem ill-placed. We are very, very lucky to have an extra $30 when some are wondering where their next meal might be coming from.

Decisions, decisions. Perhaps all of the above is the right answer. Gas, food bank donation, shut up and rent the darn movies.

What do you think of a $20 VOD rental price? Too high? Priced fair? Are you waiting until the rental price drops in 60-90 days or buying it on physical media or digital when it’s released?

Universal Supporting VOD During Pandemic More Than Any Other Studio

Don’t know about you, but I’m really, really, really missing movie theaters. The sooner we get them back, the better.

That said, I like the whole theater at home VOD surge. Thank you, studios, for giving us titles we should be seeing in the theaters at home. Thank you for realizing the theatrical window right now is irrelevant and pointless. Thank you for giving us entertainment to take our minds off the elephant in the room.

I want to publicly thank Universal for embracing VOD (see Universal will break theatrical window with Trolls World Tour available for same day streaming) more than any other studio in these unprecedented times.

Universal leads the pack in establishing the new normal for premium on demand (PVOD). It made “The Hunt,” “The Invisible Man,” and Focus Features’ “Emma” — all cut off at the knees when theaters closed around the country — available for rental March 20 ($19.99 for 48 hours) on multiple platforms. Other studios followed suit … and now Focus will put Eliza Hittman’s Sundance and Berlin prize-winner “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” one of the best-reviewed movies of the year, on demand April 3.

Focus Sends ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ to Premium On Demand | IndieWire

Say whatever you want about the Universal movies being good, bad or indifferent movies, but the mere fact they are promoting and pushing their movies on VOD is a great thing.

I will remember Universal’s support for moviegoers forced to only enjoy movies at home right now. The movie theater association (NATO as they are known) throwing shade at Universal is stupid and ill-placed. They should be embracing the movie watching experience wherever and whenever right now, so when theaters reopen people will not feel like the movie watching experience itself wasn’t the most important thing, not where we watch movies.

Moviegoers are supporting VOD of course. It’s the only viable place to watch newer movies right now, especially with stay at home shelter in place orders. Many people cannot go outside except for work (if working for an essential/critical business), emergencies and to shop for groceries.

At this point, nearly all 2020 wide-release films — as well as key specialized titles — are either available for home viewing, or soon will be. And the initial impact is dramatic. Based on the charts at iTunes and Amazon, which are updated daily, premium sales (largely priced at $19.99) are flying high.

Farewell, Box Office: This Was the Week That Premium VOD Charts Took Flight – Indiewire

Alas, we’ve gone backwards in China as theaters were closed again that were reopened. Athought reports seem to suggest that they will reopen again soon. I continue to target May 1 as a date when everything starts returning to normal, but there is another date at least in our state that I’m keeping my eyes on.

April 9. I’m looking at buying a new car and the dealership that is closed tells me that is when they are planning on reopening their showroom. Tribal casinos nearby are also suggesting the second week in April they might be reopening. I don’t know if either of these dates are too soon or not, but want to end this post optimistically.

CBS All Access One Month Free To Binge Content Using ‘GIFT’ Code Good Until April 23, 2020

Binge watch all five seasons of the classic TV series The Twilight Zone (yes, including season 4)

So this has been done primarily so you can binge the 10 episode season of Star Trek: Picard (see: Done Watching and Reviewing Star Trek: Picard), but I’d recommend binge watching the original Twilight Zone — including the hour long season four episodes (not available on any other streaming service) — heck, even Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone first season in black and white or one of the many classic TV shows you might not even realize were CBS shows. All, in my opinion, are superior to Picard, but binge it and draw your own conclusions.

To take advantage of the deal, sign up for CBS All Access using the code GIFT anytime before April 23rd. As part of that process, you’ll need to create an account and give CBS a credit card to charge when the month is up; the monthly payment will automatically renew once the free trial is up.

CBS All Access is offering a free one-month trial, just in time to binge Star Trek: Picard – The Verge

Free is a great price, although will admit feeling a bit of “haha sucks to be you” for paying for two months to see Picard, which was underwhelming, only to find out that CBS would let everybody see it for free. Oh well, that’s the risk we take.

Even if Picard doesn’t do it for you, CBS has some great IP in their vault. I Love Lucy, The Brady Bunch, Cheers, Family Ties, Happy Days, Hawaii Five-O, Mission Impossible (!), Perry Mason (!), Twilight Zone (!), The Odd Couple, Taxi and more!

It’s a good service to relive some really fantastic TV shows. Their movie offering is very small, perhaps a couple dozen titles at the most. Don’t join CBS All Access for movies, you can do much better with Amazon Prime, Netflix or Hulu, but they have some TV shows that are well worth watching and rewatching.

Happy binge-watching!