image of family watching disney+ with star wars the mandalorian on screen

Your media streamer is starting to offer a lot more value than ever before. New services mean more choices. Did you know that Disney has launched its own streaming service? If you’re a fan of Disney programming, the launch of Disney+ marks the start of “A Whole New World” in streaming.

As more and more of us move away from expensive and ad-laden cable packages to online streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, more streaming options appear each year. While you may have more choices in your streaming platform, the availability of certain movies and TV shows becomes more fragmented, spreading them thinner across the many providers. That means you might have to subscribe to more than one service if you want access to all your favourites. And with so many new services being launched, it’s hard to keep track.

To make it a bit easier, let’s compare some of the major streaming services available now in Canada, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, and Disney+.

Netflix is still loaded with great movie and TV content

How Does Netflix Work

As the oldest major streaming service available in Canada, Netflix is the one you’re likely most familiar with. Originally founded in 1997 as an online DVD rental service, it quickly evolved into the video streaming behemoth we know today.

For the uninitiated, Netflix is a monthly subscription service that allows you to stream and download from a large library of movie and TV titles from their software. You can access the software from almost any internet-connected device, usually through the browser on your computer, or an app on your phone or other device. Oh yeah, it’s also completely ad-free. The Netflix model has become the industry standard, so most streaming services will work in a similar way.

What Can I Watch on Netflix

Netflix has one of the largest collections of titles in the streaming game. From sitcoms to dramas, documentaries to anime, everyone is bound to find something they’ll like. They are known for their award-winning original productions that are exclusive to Netflix, including Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, and Bojack Horseman. They also have a good mix of old and new titles.

How Much Does Netflix Cost

Currently, Netflix Canada has 3 tiers of membership to choose from: Basic, Standard, and Premium. All Netflix memberships start with a free trial month, so you can cancel before the three months is up if you decide it’s not for you.

Basic membership is $9.99 per month, and gives you access to unlimited streaming of the Netflix library… but with only one stream at a time. If you plan to share your membership with family or housemates, this could pose problem if you want to watch different shows at the same time on different TVs. You also won’t be able to stream in HD using just the Basic package, so if you’re used to using an HD TV, you might find the picture underwhelming.

Standard membership is $13.99 per month, and gets you everything Basic does, PLUS the ability to stream on 2 devices at a time and access to HD content. Premium membership is $16.99, but bumps you up to 4 concurrent streams, and allows you to stream some 4K Ultra HD content. These memberships are on the costlier side when it comes to streaming, but it’s still far more affordable than cable.

How Can I Watch Netflix

image of a tv with the netflix interface showing title card for the haunting of hill houseYou’ll need two things to use your Netflix subscription: an internet connection and a compatible device.

The great thing about Netflix is that it’s compatible with just about any internet-connected device. Devices include computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, and some gaming consoles. It’s also available on streaming devices such as Chromecast and Roku, which can plug into almost any TV to access streaming services. Most new 4K and 8K TVs have Netflix pre-installed too. Netflix is so versatile, you’re likely reading this article on a compatible device right now!

If you plan on streaming on a tablet, phone, or smart TV, you may need to download the Netflix app first (although some devices will have it pre-installed). If you’ll be watching mainly on a computer, you can stream right from the Netflix website in any internet browser. No matter what device you’re using, streaming on Netflix is easy.

What to Expect in the future

Despite their wide variety of content, availability on Netflix can sometimes be spotty. With such a large collection, Netflix doesn’t own most of their titles. That means licensing agreements can sometimes lapse, causing certain titles to vanish from the platform. While you might watch your favourite show on Netflix today, that doesn’t mean it always will be there. That’s actually one of the reasons you might want to invest in Blu-ray discs. Read more on our blog, ‘Why a DVD player is still essential for your home theatre’.

The launch of Disney+ is a game changer in the streaming world. Currently, Netflix is one of the most popular services for streaming Disney-owned movies, but maybe not for long. Now direct competitors, it’s unlikely Disney will allow Netflix to continue streaming their titles, which include the hugely popular Marvel and Star Wars franchises. In fact, some of the Marvel-based Netflix originals such as Jessica Jones and Luke Cage have been cancelled in the last year. Many Netflix subscribers might be looking to “Let it Go” in the new year.

Amazon is also a reliable provider of tons of streaming content

How Does Amazon Prime Video Work

Amazon Prime Video is currently Netflix’s biggest competitor, and they work in the same way: you pay a monthly subscription to stream TV and movies on almost any device.

collage of amazon prime video title cardsThere is one main difference between the two. The biggest incentive of using Prime is that Amazon bundles its other Prime benefits into the same subscription. That means along with video streaming, you get free 2-day shipping on eligible Amazon products, early access to deals, AND the Prime Music service, all for one membership price. If you’re a frequent Amazon shopper, you get a lot more bang for your buck compared to Netflix.

What Can I Watch on Prime

Amazon rivals Netflix with its large catalogue of titles of movies and shows in almost every genre. They’ve also produced their own highly-acclaimed Prime originals like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Man in the High Castle, Bosch, and Jack Ryan to name a few. Prime also has HD content and some UHD/4K content, if your screen supports it.

Being direct competitors, there’s not much overlap in content between Netflix and Prime, which can be frustrating for viewers who like content from both, but don’t want to juggle two subscriptions. If you want to stick with one membership, choosing between them will come down to your own personal preference. Browse their libraries for yourself to see which titles interest you most—that’s what free trials are for, after all!

How Much does Amazon Prime Video Cost

Like Netflix, Prime starts with a free trial, giving you 30 days to cancel if you change your mind. Unlike Netflix, there are no membership tiers, but there are some additional premium subscriptions for specialty content.

The Prime TV package currently costs Canadians $7.99 per month (or $79/year) for up to 3 streams at a time. Not only is that cheaper than the lowest Netflix subscription, but it also includes many other benefits of Prime membership, making it the most economical choice on this list.

How Can I Watch Prime Video

You can watch Prime on pretty much all the same internet-connected devices at Netflix: computers, tablets, smart TVs, and so on. Either open Prime Video in your browser or download the app to your device, and you’re good to go.

Amazon also produces its own streaming devices, such as the Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TVs. These devices make it easier than ever to access Prime, and come with the Alexa Voice Remote so you control them with your voice and feel like you’re in a sci-fi movie.

What to Expect in the future

With the launch of Disney+, it’s possible that Prime could lose some of its Disney-owned titles in the next year. However, Amazon doesn’t have nearly the same number of Disney properties as Netflix does, so Prime members will likely see a smaller impact and can safely say “Hakuna Matata” in the new year.

Apple TV+ is the most unique of the streaming services

How Does Apple TV+ Work?

title card of snoopy in space from apple tv+

Apple TV+ is a new player in the content game, having launched on November 1st 2019. It follows the Netflix model, allowing you to stream and download Apple’s new proprietary content library on a monthly subscription basis.

If “Apple TV” sounds familiar, that’s because Apple TV refers to Apple’s own streaming device which has existed for many years, while Apple TV+ plus is their brand new streaming service—think of Apple TV+ as a channel on the Apple TV platform where you  per TV show, TV season, or per movie. While today you’ll still be able to buy content from Apple TV, now you can add on access to the ‘Plus” shows like The Morning Show with Jennifer Aniston. (Yes, we know it’s confusing. Read more in this blog about what Apple TV and Apple TV+ can do).

What Can I Watch on Apple TV+

Like other streaming services, Apple TV+ offers a collection of comedies, dramas, kids’ TV, and more. But unlike the others, Apple TV+ has no back catalogue. That means all of their movies and shows are original Apple content ONLY (explaining the low price point I’ll cover in the next section). This might be a service to combine with another, larger streaming service. If you were hoping to get nostalgic with some old classics, you’d be out of luck with Apple TV+.

But if you’re looking for a unique, completely fresh entertainment experience, it might fill that spot. Apple has released some exciting titles, including The Morning Show, Oprah’s Book Club, and the precious Snoopy in Space. Apple has promised to release new originals every month, so there will always be something new to discover.

How Much Does Apple TV+ Cost

In Canada, Apple TV+ will cost you $5.99 per month for up to 6 streams at a time, making it the most affordable option on this list, but right now it’s also the shallowest content pool. It also includes a free 7-day trial, giving you a bit of time to back out if it’s not for you.

Right now, you can also get a free year-long subscription with the purchase of a new Apple device. If you recently upgraded your iPhone, you might already be eligible for a free year!

How Can I Watch Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is compatible with most of the same devices as Netflix and Prime. If you own any Apple products like a MacBook or iPad, there’s a good chance the Apple TV app is already pre-installed. It’s also available on some smart TVs and streaming devices like Roku (Apple TV was also recently added to the Roku TV platform.) and the Fire TV stick. Of course, it’s also available on the Apple TV box.

Apple TV+ is notably absent from the Chromecast, one of the most popular streaming devices. If you primarily stream on Chromecast, you might need to find another way to access Apple TV+.

What To Expect in the future

With its original-only strategy, Apple TV+ won’t be affected by the arrival of Disney+. That said, if you’re interested in Apple TV+ but want a more fleshed-out selection, you might want to get two subscriptions and let both be “Part of Your World”.

Disney+ might be the most interesting streaming service

How Does Disney+ Work

image of disney+ logos disney pixar marvel star wars and national geographic

Finally, the newest streaming service to arrive in Canada—Disney+!

Disney+ mostly follows the Netflix model. That means it’s a subscription-based, ad-free, unlimited streaming of the massive Disney catalogue, so you can get your Princess on for as long as you need.

What Can I Watch on Disney+

The Disney+ catalogue will be limited to Disney-owned properties, but take the word “limited” loosely. The Disney conglomerate owns a staggering number of properties, including Star Wars, Marvel, and National Geographic to name just a few. Not to mention all the Disney classics we know and love.

The roster will consist of both classics such as the original Mary Poppins and The Lion King, as well as modern hits like Captain Marvel and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It will also feature the newly acquired The Simpsons (all 30 seasons!) which has been notoriously difficult to stream in Canada … until now.

I’m not even the biggest fan of Disney and its franchises, but my mouth is watering at the sheer volume and quality of the promised content.

How Much Does Disney+ Cost

In Canada, Disney+ will cost you $8.99 per month (or $90 per year if you want to save some cash). It also allows for 7 concurrent streams, the highest on this list. You can also get a 7-day free trial if you’re on the fence.

As the Disney empire spans across so many subsidiaries and franchises, that’s a lot of streaming for a price that beats out the cheapest Netflix membership.

How Can I Watch Disney+

At launch, Disney+ will be available on most internet-connected devices, including both Android and iOS devices, most streaming devices, some gaming consoles, and some Android TV-based smart TVs. And of course, you can always watch through your web browser. If you currently stream Netflix or Prime, you can probably stream Disney+ on the same device.

What Can I Expect in the future

In addition to all of their existing titles, Disney has announced a number of upcoming Disney+ exclusives. Perhaps the most exciting of these is The Mandalorian, the next Star Wars installment, as well as a Marvel film dedicated to Loki, and a live action remake of classic Lady and the Tramp. Disney+ will provide all “The Bare Necessities” for dedicated fans of any of these franchises.

But this also means you should expect many of these Disney titles to disappear from any streaming services you’re currently using. It’s unclear what exactly will go or when, but now is the time to rethink your streaming services.

If you’re just starting out in streaming, you’ve started at a great time with a ton of options to fit into your life. And if you’re a streaming veteran, now might be the time to rethink your current subscriptions. You can start by signing up for some free trials, thinking about your budget and entertainment needs, and check out the different streaming devices on BestBuy.ca. Whichever service you choose, when a big player like Disney enters the streaming game, it will never be the same again.

1 COMMENT

  1. I’ve been a Netflix subscriber for a long time, but I think I will soon add Disney+ to the service. At this point I think it is better to wait for Apple TV+ to build its catalog before subscribing, but to each his own.

    I would also recommend Crave as a streaming service that people should consider. They have added price points that add content from Starz and HBO as well, depending on what services they want.

    Thanks Maria.

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