This week’s post takes a look at the two new kids on the streaming block, Disney+ and Apple TV+, plus film and doco streaming site, Topic, and Brit TV specialist, AcornTV. Wow, that’s a whole lot of pluses for one post.
Launched in Australia in the last couple of weeks, Disney and Apple’s offerings join an increasingly crowded streaming market here, as in the US and UK. And the Broad recently came across another streaming site, Topic, which offers something a bit different in the way of its shows. Finally, there’s AcronTV, which has a host of English shows, along with a few Australian series.
Reminder: subscribers can download the PDF guide, which has been updated with all the details on Disney+, AppleTV+, Topic and AcornTV.
Streaming by the numbers
Here’s a few stats to fill in the picture on streaming in Australia so you can see how your habits compare with the average nationally.
- Australian households paying for streaming services have, on average, 1.9 subscriptions per household.
- Streamers outlay more than $35 each month for their online entertainment.
- Viewers watch, on average, almost 10 hours of streaming shows every week.
First to Disney+ billed as the dedicated streaming home for content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic among others. If you’re a Stan subscriber and you’re wondering where your Marvel or Pixar movies went, they have gone home to the Disney+ platform.
The cost is $8.99 a month and on Disney+ you’ll find shows from the Disney Studios in 2019 and beyond, including Captain Marvel, Dumbo, Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin, Toy Story 4, The Lion King, Maleﬁcent, Frozen 2 and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker.
There are some Disney+ Originals on the platform including The Mandalorian, which is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. It follows the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier pairs up Sam Wilson aka the Falcon and Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier in a series of action-filled adventures taking place after Avengers: Endgame. Also on the schedule for next year, Hawkeye is the new Marvel Studios series, which introduces another well-known character from the Marvel comics, Kate Bishop.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is a 10-episode scripted series, set at the real-life East High, where the original movie was filmed, and follows a group of students as they count down to opening night of their school’s first-ever production of “High School Musical.”
Also slated for future release is a Ms. Marvel series, a live-action TV show derived from the Marvel comic, and an Obi-Wan Kenobi series in which Ewan McGregor will reprise his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in a live-action Star Wars series. Finally, a She-Hulk series is being developed from the Marvel comic.
Next up is Apple TV+, the streaming service from the iPhone and Mac giant. Apple TV+ has original TV shows, movies and documentaries such as the morning TV drama with Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, Morning Wars. Looking to avoid spoiling the series through bingeing, Apple debuted with just the first three episodes available and is releasing a new episode every Friday. This is the big ticket show for the platform and it’s obviously hoping to draw in subscribers on the strength of the cast and the story line, which is straight out of the #metoo scandals that have hit some of the big US TV networks and news shows.
The platform also features Dickinson, a black comedy about Emily Dickinson, as well as kids and family shows Helpsters, a Sesame Street spin-off, Snoopy in Space and Ghostwriter, which have full seasons available.
Documentaries on Apple TV+ include The Elephant Queen, a visually stunning film about an elephant and her herd as it navigates an unforgiving Kenyan savanna. There’s also Oprah’s Book Club, featuring Oprah Winfrey in conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates in the first episode discussing his novel The Water Dancer.
At $7.99 a month, it comes in about the same price as most of the other platforms and is baked into all iOS mobile devices and Mac computers in the Apple TV app, giving it an extensive base of potential subscribers. It can also be watched through the Apple TV streamer along with some Samsung smart TVs.
Topic is part of First Look Media, the media group founded by Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire founder of eBay who is now a philanthropist. First Look Media also includes the investigative journalism site, The Intercept, the Field of Vision visual journalism unit and the Press Freedom Defense Fund.
First Look Media’s stated aim is supporting journalism that holds the powerful accountable, and producing arts and entertainment that shapes the culture. The Intercept is edited by Glen Greenwald and the Field of Vision unit was co-created with Laura Poitras, the pair responsible for breaking NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations and the documentary, Citizenfour.
Topic.com bills itself as fictional and non-fictional storytelling, aiming to be reflective of the culture, rather than merely reactive to it. It has a wide range of programs, from films to documentaries, TV series and movies, all centered around monthly themes. Some of the titles include Invisible Heroes, based on the true story of the 1973 military coup in Chile and the bid to protect a group of political refugees, and the comedy drama Monogamish, about a couple navigating a long-term relationship and a plethora of interesting documentaries. Subscriptions cost US$5.99 per month and there’s a free trial and some free content to watch without a subscription.
If you like your TV to have a flavour of Queen and Commonwealth, then AcornTV might appeal. It’s a streaming platform with an emphasis on European and British programs, although its catalogue includes some Canadian and Australian shows. From Old Blighty, it has popular 90s and 00s series including Cold Feet and The Commander as well as Midsomer Murders and Indians Summers. Australian-made series including Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, The Beautiful Lie, which is a contemporary retelling of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and the Jack Irish detective series.
Taking a leaf out of Netflix’s book, it’s funding its own new series, Acorn Originals, such as the comedy series Sando about Victoria “Sando” Sandringham, a selfish CEO played by Sacha Horler who has to make amends with her family after a lifetime of neglect. The library also includes Mr Selfridge, the series about the American entrepreneur who established the eponymously named department store in London after the turn of the century, Irish investigative drama Jack Irish and popular series Broadchurch.
While it doesn’t have the sophisticated recommendation algorithm of Netflix, it does have navigation panel for to show content that’s recently added, coming soon and leaving soon, and that one’s especially welcome because there’s nothing worse than starting a new series only to discover it’s vanished from the library leaving you with a half-watched series and many unanswered questions.
AcornTV has a one-week free trial and then it’s $6.99 per month after that. It’s available on Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV (tvOS version) and Chromecast streaming devices, iOS and Android devices through a dedicated app, and laptops and desktops via a browser.