Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Streaming Video Report Cards for 2021: Part 5

 It's time to finish off this sprawling series of posts! I'll be concise!

Peacock: B (Last year B+): Uh-oh, it's hard to be concise because this is one of the toughest to grade. It remains modest compared to some of the giants, yet it did a lot more adding than subtracting in 2021. Most of the classic content shows up on the free tier (Good Times is a notable exception), and I still find Peacock's ads to be the least obtrusive of the major commercial-supported streamers. 

There is so much missing from this service, which presumably has access to the Universal library, including many series that were pulled from the NBC app but have not made it over here yet. Where is The Equalizer? The Incredible Hulk? And of course I have been asking for Kojak and Quincy for a long time. However, Peacock added some of these types of series at the end of the year, like Miami Vice and Knight Rider, so it gets some credit for steady (if too slow) improvement.

Britbox: A (Last year: A): It didn't have quite as strong a year as it did in 2020, but it continued to add without subtracting much, bringing in the likes of Red Dwarf, Open All Hours, and Brideshead Revisited. All this and a relatively clean interface, no ads, and no constant changes to annoy its customers. I think it is running out of 70s and 80s content, but hopefully it has some things in mind for 2002.

Roku Channel: B- (Last year: B+): Yeah, there is a lot of stuff on here, but Roku made it harder to find what was new, it continued cycling content in and out without enough transparency, and it remained more a casual "let's see if we can find something" spot than the destination it could be. I do like Roku making an effort to get stuff from multiple sources, shows like A-Team and Starsky and Hutch and Magnum P.I., and they just added a watchlist-type function, but in 2021 I thought this one slipped a bit overall. However, it's still free, and it looks like Roku is continuing to try to improve and not giving up on older material. I just think this could be more.

YouTube: A+  (Last year: not ranked): The biggest treasure trove for lovers of our era of TV is still YouTube. It does have ads, material can be yanked at any moment, and a lot of uploaders deliver imperfect material like syndicated or sped-up versions of episodes. Worse, many distort the material, like messing with the aspect ratio. That said, there is tons of rare television here that you really will not find elsewhere, and it's all free. Sometimes you get what you pay for, but there is always something to see, and it's fun going down the various rabbit holes and finding out, "Hey, it's THIS!" I spent a lot more of my streaming time in 2021 trying to catch rare specials and programs before they are gone, and I expect that will continue in 2022.

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