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Peacock vs. HBO Max vs. Disney Plus vs. Apple TV Plus vs. Netflix: How streaming stacks up

With the launch of NBC's Peacock and HBO Max this spring you'll have more streaming choices than ever. Our guide breaks them down.

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There are about to be even more streaming services competing for your attention. 

David Katzmaier/CNET

Disney Plus has arrived, Apple TV Plus has picked up its first round of awards and new services like NBC/Comcast's Peacock and AT&T's HBO Max are just around the corner. As the list of services continues to grow from the "old days" of just Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu (Disney's other platform), you'd be forgiven for thinking there was a new service every week. 

With details now known for Peacock's launch -- in April for Comcast customers and July for everyone else -- and HBO Max coming in May, now is a good time to stop and look at the crowded landscape. Here's a breakdown of where each stands right now. 

Read more: Best live TV streaming services for cord cutters in 2020  

The basics: Pricing, titles and more

Netflix interface

Netflix has built its service on having a wide selection of originals and classic TV shows and movies. 

Netflix

Plans on Disney, Apple and HBO are relatively straightforward. There's a single plan for each service that includes 4K HDR streaming, mobile downloads and the ability for multiple people to watch at once. 

Netflix is a bit trickier with its three plans: They start at $8.99 per month for a single, non-HD stream that can download to one phone or tablet. Next is its most popular, $12.99 per month plan for two streams in HD and the ability to download to two devices. Lastly, it's $15.99 for four streams in 4K HDR and downloads on up to four devices. 

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Peacock also has three plans and the cheapest is free -- but unlike the others, you'll have to watch ads. Pay Peacock $5 monthly and you'll still see ads, but you'll get access to 4K video and mobile downloads. You'll need to step up to the $10 monthly version of Peacock to go ad-free.

Each of the competing streaming services has its own group of noteworthy titles. For instance, Apple TV Plus is the only place you can watch Jennifer Aniston's The Morning Show, while Disney Plus is where you'll be able to stream the Star Wars series The Mandalorian. HBO Max, meanwhile, will have Friends after the popular show left Netflix at the start of the year while Netflix will host The Office at least until 2021, when it will head to Peacock. 

Those nostalgic for NBC's most popular 2000s shows including 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights, Parks and Recreation will like Peacock, which is also home to classics like Cheers and Everybody Loves Raymond. The new service will also be home to Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Two and a Half Men and Dick Wolf's "Chicago" and "Law and Order" franchises. 

Streaming compared


Disney Plus Apple TV Plus HBO Max Netflix Peacock
Monthly price: $7 $5 $15 Starts at $9 Basic free with ads, Premium with ads for $5 or ad-free Premium for $10
Availability Now Now May 2020 Now April 15 for Comcast, July 15 nationwide
Top titles The Mandalorian, Avengers Endgame, Toy Story, The Simpsons The Morning Show, See, Dickinson, For All Mankind Game of Thrones, Friends, Big Bang Theory, Rick and Morty Stranger Things, The Office, Breaking Bad, 13 Reasons Why The Office (in 2021), 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Tokyo Olympics, early access to Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
Mobile downloads Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes, with ad-free Premium tier
4K HDR available Yes Yes Unsure Yes (on Premium plan) Yes, with either Premium tier
Number of streams: 4 6 Unsure 1 (2 for Standard, 4 on Premium) 3

Apple TV Plus may have the most limited selection, but it's also the cheapest without ads. Families will likely gravitate toward Disney Plus, with its extensive catalog of family-friendly content including Disney's live-action and animated films and TV shows, plus offerings from Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and National Geographic. 

By comparison, while HBO has Sesame Street, Apple has Snoopy, and Netflix has its own Kids section, none of these offers the singular, family-friendly focus of Disney Plus. 

Peacock has a new Curious George series plus family films like Dreamworks' Despicable Me franchise and Shrek.  

If you're looking beyond the wide Disney domain, you'll find large varieties of content across genres at HBO, Peacock and Netflix. But when looking at ad-free pricing those services are more expensive than Disney's streaming option, with Peacock running $10 per month, HBO Max $14.99 a month and Netflix's most popular plan -- that "Standard" plan with two HD streams -- running $12.99 a month. 

Disney also includes higher-quality 4K HDR streams, a step up in picture quality from traditional HD, in the subscription price and is available across a host of devices and platforms. Apple includes 4K HDR on some non-Apple devices but limits premium features such as Dolby's Atmos sound and Vision picture to Apple products. 

Netflix has 4K HDR, but you need its priciest $15.99 per month Premium tier. 

In a statement provided to CNET, a WarnerMedia spokesperson confirmed that HBO Max will allow for mobile downloads and multiple streams with 4K HDR coming in the future. 

"The HBO Max platform will support mobile downloads and details on concurrent streams will be available closer to launch," the spokesperson said. "4K HDR is a part of the HBO Max product roadmap but we don't have any additional information to share at this time."

Peacock will allow for three simultaneous streams on all of its tiers, but 4K HDR will require a subscription to either of its Premium offerings while mobile downloads will require its ad-free Premium option. 

How to watch

disney-plus-ui-all

Disney Plus will be nearly anywhere you want to watch. 

Disney

When it comes to devices, assuming HBO Max follows the same distribution as HBO Now, all four services will be on iOS, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku. Some newer TV models, like the latest Samsung televisions, may have apps for some or all of these services as well.

Supported devices


Disney Apple TV Plus HBO Max Netflix
Android app Yes No Yes Yes
iOS app Yes Yes Yes Yes
Roku Yes Yes Yes Yes
Amazon Fire TV Yes Yes Yes Yes
Apple TV Yes Yes Yes Yes
Android TV Yes No Yes Yes
Chromecast Yes No Yes Yes
Xbox One Yes No Yes Yes
PlayStation 4 Yes No Yes Yes

The only real limitation when it comes to these four services is with Apple TV Plus, which isn't available on Android, Android TV, Chromecast or game consoles such as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. 

Peacock hasn't yet detailed exactly which platforms it will be available on. 

How to save

Saving on streaming


Disney Apple TV Plus HBO Max Netflix Peacock
Promotion Free year with Verizon unlimited data plans Free year with new iPhone, Mac, iPad purchase Bundled with AT&T Unlimited &More Premium Included with T-Mobile Magenta Premium with ads included for free to Comcast or Cox customers

All five services sweeten the deal with incentives for people who are already using specific services. Depending on your carrier and unlimited plan, you may even be able to get subscriptions for free. T-Mobile unlimited users get free Netflix, for instance, while AT&T bundles HBO on some of its premium unlimited plans and Verizon is offering a free year of Disney Plus. (If you're on Sprint, you may be able to get free Hulu with ads depending on your unlimited plan.) 

Comcast will be offering $5 discounts on Peacock's premium service, offering the normally $5-per-month Premium with ads service for free to subscribers of it's Xfinity or Cox's TV or internet services. Those who have Comcast or Cox and want no ads will only need to pay $5 per month for the full ad-free Premium subscription as opposed to the usual $10.

Apple hasn't partnered with any wireless or cable provider, but it is offering a free year of TV Plus to anyone who buys a new iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV or Mac. 

So many services, so little time

Disney Plus is yet another service that parents, in particular, will need to pay for, but unlike with Apple Plus at least there's a wealth of content available to its subscribers. With even more streaming options coming this year, like Quibi, it'll be interesting to see who can actually compete for Netflix's crown and who will fall by the wayside. Grab your popcorn: The latest battle in the streaming wars is now fully underway. 

How do you feel about the influx of new services? Will you be unsubscribing from existing ones to make room in your budget? Let us know in the comments below.

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