'Friends' is leaving Netflix! Your questions about Disney+, Apple TV+ and HBO Max, answered

2020 will bring a lot of things: A presidential election, a leap day, a new decade and even more streaming TV options. 

TV seemed to explode in 2019 with the additions of Disney+ and Apple TV+ streaming services, and 2020 will bring us HBO Max from WarnerMedia and Peacock from NBCUniversal. And who knows if Hollywood will be done after that?  

There are so many shows, movies and services hanging around the Internet these days, it might be easy to lose track of something you want to watch. Sure, you know about Baby Yoda, but are you up on the pertinent info about where your favorite shows will be streaming come the new year?

To help set you up for success in 2020, we answer some frequently asked questions about the streamers, from explaining Disney+ technicalities to answering the most important question in TV: Where can I watch “Friends”?

Why aren’t all my Marvel shows, like ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,’ on Disney+?

Long before Disney+ was in the works, “S.H.I.E.L.D.” nabbed a streaming deal with Netflix that hasn’t expired yet. The reality for Disney (and Disney’s popular brands) is that it sold shows to streamers before it had its own service, so it cannot actually offer its entire library right away. That’s why you won’t find all the seasons of “Marvel’s Runaways” on Disney+ either, or adult-skewed Netflix series like “Jessica Jones.”

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What does HBO Max have to do with HBO?

HBO Max is not another extension of HBO Now or HBO Go, a digital way to watch HBO programming that you can also get with a cable subscription. HBO Max will be its own independent streaming service from WarnerMedia, the company behind Warner Bros., Turner (TNT, TBS, CNN) and more. Its library will be extensive (Looney Tunes! “South Park”!) and indeed include everything HBO has. But Max is also ramping up original programming (new DC Comics superhero shows and a Mindy Kaling sitcom) for its 2020 launch. 

No, seriously, where can I watch ‘Friends’?

For the very few days left in 2019, you can still stream all 10 seasons of the beloved sitcom on Netflix. On Jan. 1, it will disappear off that service and not return to subscription streaming until HBO Max launches in May 2020. It’s worth noting that the sitcom still lives on in cable and syndicated reruns in most markets, if you just can’t live without it for five months. 

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What about ‘The Office’?

Don’t get as stressed as Michael Scott about this one. “The Office” is leaving Netflix to go to Peacock … but not until 2021. Feel free to relive Pam and Jim’s romance as many times as you want until then. 

This all sounds familiar and like I’m not really going to save any money cutting the cord.

You’re right! We’re entering a new phase of TV that looks an awful lot like basic cable, with the big streamers spending hundreds of millions of dollars to nab what are essentially re-run rights. Depending on your taste in TV and your internet, cable and cellphone providers, you may end up spending as much or more on multiple streamers as you did on a big cable package. 

Which streamers are actually worth investing in?

It depends on what you want, but in general, the original three (Netflix, Amazon and Hulu) are more diversified than the newcomers. Although Disney+ doesn’t have as wide a range of programming, the sheer amount of content is impressive. Apple is a bit too shaky and new, and we haven’t seen everything HBO Max and Peacock are bringing yet. If you want just one, Hulu is the best streaming service overall. 


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