Today we continue to grade the major streaming services based on classic TV on those services in 2020. We have a few big winners today. FREE, even if it has ads, is always going to boost the grades a bit.
Pluto TV: Pluto was a free and pleasant time waster until CBS/Viacom bought it, and in 2020 it really started loading it up, adding numerous channels to its 24/7 live-streaming lineup with content from the company's vast empire. There is a Garry Marshall channel and a Love Boat channel in addition to all kinds of other options.
The problem is that, at least on Roku, it's still to hard to customize the channels to get rid of all the stuff you don't like (and with this lineup, there is a ton of that for anyone). The live guide is limited, and there is no DVR, so it's limited to something sort of replicating cable TV.
However, the on demand section is more stocked than you think. For example, all of Three's Company is available in addition to having a 24/7 live channel. Too Close for Comfort is another option. It appears CBS is saving stuff like Happy Days for CBS All Access, but there is a nice assortment of free material on demand here, though they can improve the interface.
Most pleasant surprise: There are a lot of Classic Doctor Who story arcs available on demand; I thought that show was exclusive to BritBox.
Biggest disappointment: I thought that the revamps would make it easier to filter out stuff like the multiple Roblox channels. Also, I am sure this is a perception thing, but it sure seems like all the channels I want to watch have commercial breaks at the same time.
Tubi TV: Similar to Pluto, but totally on demand and with a more sophisticated user interface and a bigger library. This free service is now owned by Fox, but since that Fox library is now with Disney, it licenses all its content, and it often surprises. In addition to carrying stuff that many other places have--the Shout! catalog, the FilmRise and Stephen Cannell stuff--Tubi continues to get interesting programs from the big guys.
The big example for me is the surprising addition of the 1988 Ruby-Spears Superman and the 1977 New Adventures of Batman cartoons several months ago. I was disappointed when DC Universe didn't carry those at its launch, and it never added them. No one else had ever streamed these particular animated series. After this addition, I was more excited about the DC material on Tubi than the DC material on DC Universe!
You have to dig for content a little here, and I hope more comes in 2021, but this is an under-the-radar service that has a lot to offer, including more 50s and 60s material than many competitors. And did I mention it's free?
Most pleasant surprise: I mentioned it already, but to throw another one, Tubi also has Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels and Chuck Norris' Karate Kommandos. I'll say this for WarnerMedia: If it's not gonna put shows like that on HBO Max, I am glad it's willing to loan them out.
Biggest disappointment:I wish it were easier to find what I am interested in and to dismiss what I am not.