Read the first newsletter in this series, covering the rubric for all streaming service reviews in this series, and reviewing film-focused streaming platforms.

More than twelve years after Netflix first offered streaming as an add-on to its dvd-by-mail service, major twentieth century media brands finally plunged into their own streaming services, offering users a better—or at least competitive—streaming product attached to lucrative intellectual property. Why syndicate 30 Rock and Iron Man for a pittance on Netflix's tech when you have Disney and Comcast's market dominance to reap subscription fees?

The launch of Disney+ in 2019, followed by Peacock in July 2020, heralded what media critics called streaming wars. In reality, the experience has been less conflict and more browsing through the burgeoning number of channel-platforms that keep sprouting on our devices, like dandelions, whether we need them or not. Streaming services can make passive video consumption feel more like a research project than the mindless pleasure of a gazillion choices, so an excellent user experience should be a priority for these services to survive.

Since Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go/Now/Max and Amazon Prime created the first streaming tv user interfaces, century-old media behemoths suddenly became disruptors, adding intriguing new possibilities to the consumer experience of self-guided television. Surprisingly, they've used their deep media company pockets to serve up some truly delightful UI and advance the medium.

The rubric: A few additions

This week I've added two new icons to the rubric and translated all ratings to images to make this all a li'l more official-seeming. The two icons represent my least favorite subscription bugbears:

A shopping cart holds a question mark
Am I in a store?

Am I in a store? When this icon is present in the review, the app displays free and paid content side-by-side, indicating that you have to pony up additional cash, even after throwing down for a subscription.

Does this app show ads?

Does this app show ads? When this icon is present, you may see ads on the streaming service. Many services have an opt-out of ads for a few dollars a month.

The amazing Will Dinski, my life-not-business partner, concepted and drew these, as with the other illustrated icons on The Content Technologist. (He's for hire as an illustrator and graphic designer, btw.)

Disney+: All your favorite franchises,

I was never expecting to find missing metadata or error messages in the Disney+ app; if the customer experience of Disney+ were not wrapped up with mouse ears on top, I would be shocked.

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