Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Streaming Video Report Cards for 2021: Part 1

I'm revisiting the series of posts I did last year evaluating streaming video on demand, but this time I am not going to bother as much with things like research and reason. I'm going to buzz through these quicker and rely on my gut. How did these outlets do by 1970s and 1980s TV in 2021? Where do they stand now?

Last year's grade is in parenthesis:

Netflix: F (Last year: F+): It cropped the big acquisition it had, Seinfeld, and I think a lot of us actually forgot it was on there. I will admit the streamer gave us a stunning surprise at the end of the year, but as much as I enjoyed revisiting it for the podcast, Knight Rider isn't the kind of show that redeems 11 months of neglect for older television. It proves that anything is possible, but it doesn't seem to auger any wave of vintage shows coming anytime soon.  At Netflix the prices go up, but the catalog goes down!

Hulu: D (Last year: B+): It feels like Hulu is still in a holding pattern while everyone waits to see how Disney and Comcast divvy this up, but I think Hulu has given up on classic TV beyond what it already has. By the way, what it already has went way down with the losses of Seinfeld, the Star Trek shows, The Twilight Zone, and Andy Griffith. It's not Hulu's fault that CBS wants stuff for its own streaming properties, but it's not like Hulu is doing anything to replace it. Fortunately it still has all that FOX/MTM stuff like Mary Tyler Moore. Come to think of it, isn't it about time it got something like Rhoda? Hulu gets a coasting D but has fallen way behind the free services.

Disney Plus: D- (Last year: D): It gets that much based on adding The Muppet Show early in 2021, but, wow, is Disney stingy with its vault. One might have hoped production delays on new shows might have encouraged a focus on library content, but somehow Disney got worse in 2021. It would be one thing if Disney was doing anything with Hulu, but, nope, it's time to accept that the company just doesn't care about its archives and that most of what we are gonna get, we already done got.

HBO Max: D- (Last year: D+):  Warners is very slowly adding TV series to the service, but most of them, like ER and Batman: The Animated Series, are past our time frame. Don't get me wrong, as an overall service, HBO Max is great (content-wise; the app is another story), but for what it charges, it should and could do better with older stuff than adding the occasional Head of the Class. Super Friends is great, but that was long overdue. I do think we'll get a few high-profile BOTNS-era series on here in 2022, but we are better off hoping the shows are licensed to other services that do commit to library programming. On the bright side, it looks like HBO Max is backing off the dreaded "rotating content" idea and not cycling its stuff on and off just for the heck of it.

It wasn't all bad in 2021, though, and I'll get to the good eventually, but these are 4 high-profile services that totally snubbed lovers of vintage television in 2021.

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