Family sitting on a sofa looking at new streaming video services on a computer.

Over the past 18 months, the number of streaming video services has exploded, offering consumers more choices than ever when it comes to alternatives to traditional pay TV.

New options from some of the world's biggest tech and entertainment companies are available now or will be soon.

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Consumers can now subscribe to a new DC Universe that recently launched from DC Entertainment. A new Vudu-branded subscription service from Walmart is expected to debut before the end of the year.

Then in 2019, we should see new streaming services from Apple and Disney as well as a new HBO-based service from AT&T subsidiary WarnerMedia. Amazon is planning a new free, ad-supported service to complement Amazon Prime, but it hasn’t said when it will debut.

The new options will join all-you-can-eat monthly subscription services such as Netflix, along with cable TV-style packages from companies including DirecTV Now and Sling, designed to help consumers cut the cable cord.


Amazon is planning a new ad-supported streaming video service for its Fire TV streaming devices. It will be similar to the Roku Channel, the free, ad-supported service offered by Roku, and will live alongside its Amazon Prime service, which is free with a yearly Prime subscription.

Roku recently expanded the availability of the Roku Channel beyond its own players and Roku TVs with the Roku Channel for the web, which lets you access the programming from a computer, smartphone, or tablet. It’s not clear whether Amazon plans to make the free service available beyond its own streaming devices.

The service might be called Amazon Free Dive, according to media reports, and focus primarily on an older catalog of licensed TV shows. Amazon hasn't responded to a request from Consumer Reports for comment.


Apple hasn’t announced a name or an official launch date for its new streaming service, but the latest news is that it will be offered free to users of its devices. According to a report by CNBC, which cited unnamed sources, the service will be preinstalled on new Apple iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs as part of a "TV" app on iOS and tvOS. It is expected to launch early next year. Apple hasn't yet returned our calls for comment.

Apple's new service will reportedly offer a mix of family-friendly fare that includes original Apple programming plus a number of subscription channels, such as HBO and Starz. Sources suggested to CNBC that the service could morph into a paid stand-alone Netflix-like service later in the year if Apple is able to secure or develop a must-see series the way HBO did with "Game of Thrones" or Netflix did with "House of Cards."

Apple has previously stated that it’s earmarking $1 billion for video content. The company already owns a few original shows, including “Planet of the Apps” and James Cordon’s “Carpool Karaoke: The Series,” which are currently available free as part of an Apple Music subscription.

And the company has made deals with some big-name entertainment partners, including Oprah Winfrey. In a brief announcement in June the company said: “Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world. Winfrey’s projects will be released as part of a lineup of original content from Apple.”

According to tech publications and Hollywood trades such as Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, other Apple streaming content includes a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s 1980s series “Amazing Stories”; a drama about a morning talk show, starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston; an untitled series from Damien Chazelle, director of “La La Land”; and a thriller from director M. Night Shyamalan.

DC Universe

Warner Bros. has now launched its DC Universe streaming service, which leverages DC’s comic book characters and superheroes. The service, which debuted in September, costs $8 per month or $75 for a yearly subscription.

DC Universe includes a mix of new exclusive original series, classic live-action TV shows, movies from the DC library, specials and shorts, digital comic books, and a daily news show. Presumably, new DC movies will also be available as they're released. The service has a community area for connecting with other members, and access to exclusive merchandise from a members-only store.

The company's first big original series, “Titans,” hits the service this fall.


Disney executives described the company’s new streaming service at a media conference earlier this year, promising a family-focused service priced below Netflix.

Since then, the company has offered a few more details and indicated that the service, which is being called Disney+, will launch late in 2019. 

The breadth of the content could be formidable, considering that Disney now owns all the “Star Wars” movies as well as Marvel Studios films and Pixar animated movies. And, of course, Disney has a huge library of its own animated and live-action films and TV series. Some of that content is currently licensed to Netflix in a deal that ends next year.

At an analysts' conference earlier this year, chairman and CEO Bob Iger cited a number of 2019 titles that will stream exclusively on Disney's new service, including an Avengers movie, “Toy Story 4,” “The Lion King,” “Frozen,” “Aladdin,” and “Dumbo.”

And, he said, “We’ve talked about a Marvel series, a ‘Star Wars’ series, a Disney-branded series—‘High School Musical,’ for instance,” along with new, original movies.

All “Star Wars” movies released in 2019 or later will available on the service, along with older ones once their licensing deals expire.

The company has since announced that it will have a "Star Wars" prequel series based on "Rogue One," and a Marvel series featuring Loki from the "Thor" and "Avengers" movies.

The company is in negotiations to purchase 20th Century Fox, home to movie franchises such as “Avatar,” “Deadpool,” and “X-Men,” and TV shows such as “The Simpsons” and “Empire.”

Fox also owns the highly regarded Fox Searchlight studio (which produced “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), the FX cable channel (which produced “American Horror Story”), and NatGeo. The purchase will also make Disney the majority owner in the Hulu streaming service.


Among all these new proposed services, Walmart’s entry into the streaming subscription space seems the most speculative.

There have been conflicting reports about whether the service will be offered as a part of Vudu, the pay-per-view service Walmart bought in 2010, or as a stand-alone service.

Thanks to its rental and download pay-per-view service—as well as its free, ad-supported Movies On Us offering—Vudu already has relationships with most of the major media and entertainment companies. But licensing deals for a subscription-based service would need to be negotiated.

The company recently signed a deal with MGM that will have the studio create original series based on its extensive film and TV catalog. But those shows will be available on Vudu’s free, ad-supported Movies On Us service, not a new subscription service.

According to Variety, if the company moves forward, the service will hit at the end of this year and include some original content as well as licensed TV shows and movies. Earlier reports said Walmart was looking to price the new service at about $8 per month.

Adding a low-cost streaming service could help Walmart craft an e-commerce offering to compete with the company’s biggest retail competitor, Amazon, which includes free streaming as a component of its Prime two-day shipping service.


AT&T's WarnerMedia division will launch a new service late next year that will include HBO as part of its content offering, according WarnerMedia's CEO, John Stankey.

Speaking during a presentation to investors, Stankey said the yet-unnamed service will actually have three different subscription tiers, beginning with a movie-focused starter plan that will draw from the company's film library. A mid-tier plan will include a premium service with original programming and top-draw movies, and the priciest plan will combine those two offerings, plus additional WarnerMedia library and licensed content.

Stankey didn't disclose pricing for the different tiers of the new service, which is expected to launch late in the fourth quarter of 2019. And it still isn't clear exactly what content would be included in the service.

But in an earlier internal memo acquired by CNN, Stankey said that in addition to HBO, the service would include shows and movies from Turner and Warner Bros. That could include Warner Brothers movies and TV shows, along with content from Turner cable channels such as Cartoon Network, TBS, TNT, and Turner Classic Movies.

Stankey also said that CNN, another Turner property, would not be part of the package, and that the new service would cost more than HBO Now, which will continue to be offered as a separate stand-alone service.

AT&T, which acquired Time Warner earlier this year, has been aggressive in offering new streaming services. In addition to the new HBO-plus service, the company and its subsidiaries now offer DirecTV Now, HBO Now, FilmStruck, AT&T Watch, and ESPN+, plus the recently launched DC Universe.

The company says it plans to launch a new streaming version of its satellite-based DirecTV service later this year. It will be separate from the current DirecTV Now streaming service and designed to replicate the bigger programming bundle that customers currently get as part of a satellite package. Pricing will be higher than DirecTV Now but less than a regular satellite TV subscription plan.