One of the few businesses thriving these days is streaming television. According to JustWatch.com, a service that charts consumer viewing, interest in Netflix has shot up more than 300% during the pandemic, with Disney+, Amazon Prime and Hulu also seeing triple-digit growth.
But newcomers aren’t necessarily welcome. Quibi, which specializes in bite-size programming, has less than 2 million active users since it launched last month, a number co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg admits is far less than what he wanted.
HBO Max, which becomes available Wednesday, has a few more things going for it, most notably the entire HBO library, lots of Warner Bros. movies, original programming and every episode of “Friends.” But you may want to think twice before jumping in at the introductory price of $11.99 per month.
Max’s highly touted “Friends” reunion was postponed due to the pandemic. And while the service has signed up some big-name talent, including J.J. Abrams and Kaley Cuoco, they’re not part of the first wave of originals. Here’s a look at what’s available right out of the gate.
Anna Kendrick bounces from boyfriend to boyfriend in this romcom that’s terrific in the “rom” department, and not so hot when it comes to “com.” Still, the “Pitch Perfect” star is magnetic even when she’s not performing “Cups.” It’s ultimately better than re-watching “Sex and the City.”
Fans of FX’s “Pose” will probably enjoy this competition series in which real-life ballroom participants see who can vogue best. The dance sequences are fierce, although the cameras cut away far too often to capture the reactions of the judges, which include “The Good Place” star Jameela Jamil and rapper Megan Thee Stallion.
‘Looney Tunes Cartoons’
The Warner Bros. animators have gone old-school for this new series of shorts that include Marvin the Martian trying to plant his flag and Daffy Duck doing battle with a wad of street gum. While there are some nods to contemporary times — Bugs Bunny digs boxed carrot water — these bits could have just as easily been long-lost treasures from the studio’s heyday.
‘The Not Too Late Show With Elmo’
The veteran Muppet brushes up against his bedtime to host this talk-show parody that’s won’t cost Larry Sanders a wink of sleep. While it’s fun to hear musical guests perform “Sesame Street” classics (Kacey Musgraves does a killer “Rubber Duckie”), the comedy and cuteness just doesn’t compare with the behind-the-scenes antics of “The Muppet Show.”
YouTube influencer Lauren Riihimaki (LaurDIY) hosts this new competition series that celebrates kids who would rather wield a hot glue gun than a baseball bat. Watching contestants try to out-crochet each other may not be your idea of a good time, but until professional sports come back around, it’ll have to do.
‘On the Record’
The Sundance documentary that looks into sexual assault allegations made against music mogul Russell Simmons wasn’t available for review, but it’s already garnered a lot of attention, especially after Oprah Winfrey and the movie’s original distributor, Apple TV, left the project, citing creative differences with the directors.
The ultimate verdict? HBO Max may eventually be worth forking over $12 or more a month — but not just yet.
Njustin@startribune.com Twitter: @nealjustin