The Ultimate Guide to Streaming

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(Jiaqi Wang / For The Times)
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Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone whose attempts at cord-cutting have proven full of trip wires.

In this special edition, we share the 16 stories from our new premium issue, The Ultimate Guide to Streaming, in order to help you untangle it all. Through the combined forces of the film, TV and Company Town teams here at The Times, we’ve compiled guides to platforms large and small, paid and free; recommended movies and TV shows to stream; reported on the past and future of streaming; and opined on the myriad reasons why the present feels so unsettled.

We’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming next week. Until then, stream on.


The Ultimate Streaming Power Rankings: Amid a writers’ strike largely about the power of platforms, we take a snapshot of the streaming pecking order, from Netflix to (formerly HBO) Max.

It’s the age of Pique TV: How consumers and creators soured on streaming: A decade after Netflix disrupted the industry with “House of Cards,” Peak TV is in retreat, and in its place is a new era of discontent.

Streaming’s most wanted: Why it’s so hard to find these iconic film and TV titles: From disgraced producers to pharmaceutical giants, the reasons you can’t stream titles like “Moonlighting” or “Dawn of the Dead” are often surprising.

Our critic picks 30 TV shows from around the globe to stream right now: Interested in expanding your televisual horizons? Robert Lloyd recommends these 30 shows from 15 countries — none of them in English.

Illustration showing a person overwhelmed by a wave of streaming choices
(Jiaqi Wang / For The Times)

What makes a streaming hit? Desperate fans ‘game the system’ to save favorite shows: How platforms like Netflix and Prime Video measure success can mean the difference between life and death for a show. But those metrics remain opaque.


Streaming’s boom-and-bust cycle hit animators hard. It’s not the first time: After an explosion fueled by streaming, the rollback has hit animation hard. Creators from Netflix, Max and more say it’s a Hollywood tradition.

11 free streaming services that can save film and TV buffs big money: More and more free, ad-supported streamers are joining the fray to keep your costs down and your movie and TV watching high. Here’s what to know.

Why Hollywood’s streaming future probably won’t look like TikTok: Netflix tried to launch a TikTok-like feature. Quibi collapsed pursuing a similar dream. Will Hollywood ever bottle the magic of short-form video?

Illustration of a hand holding a remote control, projecting a scene from Netflix's "Shadow and Bone" on a fractured screen
(Jiaqi Wang / For The Times)

‘The Last Dance’ started a flood of sports docs. And the ‘danger of oversaturation’ is real: Since the ESPN/Netflix co-production became a cultural phenomenon, the flood of sports docs has intensified — making it ever harder to break through.

5 filmmakers whose work you need to catch up on this summer: Film critic Justin Chang looks ahead to some of 2023’s most anticipated movies and offers his guide to immersing yourself in their directors’ past work.


Stand-up comics on selling specials to the streamers: ‘You do not need them’: As streamers reduce spending on comedy specials, comics are turning to other platforms to share their content. Four stand-ups recount their experiences.

How the streamers fought their way to awards season dominance: Streamers like Netflix have become perennial Oscar and Emmy heavyweights. Inside the rule changes, technological advances and more that made it possible.

Illustration of a seated woman with remote control in hand, surrounded by various types of streaming content
(Jiaqi Wang / For The Times)

14 boutique streamers to try if your current subscriptions aren’t to your taste: Boutique streamers like BET+, Crunchyroll and more make it easy for viewers of every taste to have exactly what they want to watch at their fingertips.

Streaming set off an arms race of $100-million mega-deals. Were they worth it?: Led by Netflix’s pacts with Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, streamers have lured TV titans with eye-popping deals. The results have been mixed at best.

Not your abuela’s telenovelas: How Spanish-language streamers are shaking up TV: For brands like Tplus and Vix, reimagining one of Spanish-language TV’s most venerable formats is just one path to finding a younger, larger audience.


Streaming is in the ascendance. But movie theaters are not going to go quietly: After a period of pandemic experimentation, distributors hope streaming and theatrical can achieve the previously unthinkable: peaceful coexistence.