As the year begins, you’ll see a lot of little lists from me, mostly celebrating the best I saw in film and television in 2022. I’m spreading it out, and in no way am I starting with major categories. I’m still catching up on a few titles, so by starting small, it gives me a little bit more time to get those lists done.
if you’ve been following me, you’ll notice that i have reviewed titles from Netflix, Amazon, hulu, Apple Plus, Paramount Plus, HBO MAX, Disney Plus, and AMC Plus. I’m not rating FreeVee separately, and I barely use Tubi and the Roku channel. So, 8 streaming services looking for love this year. Who was the worst, the best, and why?
8) AMC Plus
I mean, I’d love to throw someone else on the bottom, but since I started my subscription in September, I have noticed a complete lack in expansion of audio description on their titles. one of their biggest new shows, Interview With A Vampire, lacks audio description. If they couldn’t bother with that, then what could they be bothered to do? I was told they would be expanding their offerings, but that hasn’t happened, and the app is barely functional. On the iOS app, you can sign up, but good luck navigating. i ahve to search for the title I want to watch. And on my Roku, my voice request system won’t recognize AMC Plus and launch a title directly. It tries to launch it in something like Shudder instead. If I load the app, the titles still are not being read to me, so i have to click on random titles in rows to search for something to watch. It will read me the info for the title, and that usually informs me what movie it is. But, AMC Plus has a long way to go. A long, long way to go.
Current Grade: D
7) Paramount Plus
I’ve been in this months long customer service war with P+, having talked to an ungodly amount of people. The fact is, they added showtime at the beginning of September. Showtime does have some programs with audio description. Paramount Plus and Showtime have the same parent company. I made the decision to take the special annual offer at the time and upgrading to add Showtime, so that my subscription to Showtime was now through Paramount Plus, and consolidated. Despite the obvious integrations possibilities, Paramount Plus didn’t bring any of the audio description over. Just some closed captioning. So, what they did was take their existing catalog, expand it, but not expand any audio description. So the percentage of my available audio described content, AKA the bang for my buck went down. The worst part is after hounding them for months, I know they don’t care. I was given a phone number to call Viacom, which as an AI technology where you could say a name, and leave someone a voicemail. I left about fifty random people at the company voicemails, and no returned calls. This is a service that cares not about it’s customers, and it’s not just me. I’ve seen people complaining about bugs with how they access the app (though i don’t have those problems). And this is a streaming service we should not be letting off the hook. Paramount Plus is a name change. CBS All Access was around for a while, and pre-dates everything from HBo MAX to Disney Plus. In fact, i think the only services older than it that I subscribe to are Prime, Hulu, and netflix. They have had ample time to get their shit together, and it’s clear they do not want to, and do not care about their accessibility, or customer service. As far as their offerings go, their originals consistently have audio description, CBS titles have audio description most of the time, and some catalog titles offer it. Though, Paramount has a massive library they’ve accumulated over the years, and if they really cared, not only would they offer the Showtime existing audio description, as well as the audio description for any title that has had a track before, but they would be working to add audio description to their back catalog of older titles. They’re not AMC Plus, but they have a long way to go.
Final Grade: C
Honestly, almost everything I just said about Paramount is true here, except the specifics. Peacock now offers a bunch of titles from their sister networks, but in doing so, they added a bunch of stuff that has no audio description. All of their originals have it, and most NBC shows, but when we dip into the Universal catalog, it gets depressing. I know Universal has recorded more audio description than this, but it seems to only be on new films… except when it’s not. Even Vengeance, which was a theatrical release this year, dropped on peacock without audio description. Want to talk to customer service? i hope you like chat bots. Their apps have gotten redesigns to make them a little better, but they still have work to be done to work with the screen readers at an appropriate level.
Final Grade: C+
Sure, they have audio description on Hulu originals… except when they don’t. Wedding Season was a Hulu original that had no audio description. And as of a week ago, still had none. I called it in about two months ago, and at that time, it was already a “known issue”. Hulu gives zero fucks. They benefit from a large catalog of originals, and ABC programming that has audio description. But even FOX shows may or may not have audio description, and FX On Hulu has become a way for Hulu to skip providing audio description right away. They frequently think offering one or two episodes of a title for a season is enough. There’s very little thought put into anything here, and they almost never have audio description on a movie that isn’t a Hulu original anymore. Crimes Of the Future has an audio description track that neither iTunes or hulu want to use.
Final Grade: C+
They do have quite a bit of audio description. But they also now host an absurd amount of titles between prime and FreeVee, so their audio description should be a lot higher. And it should be higher without needing robodescription. Using text to speech is always going to keep Amazon behind other contenders that are running away with the prize here. If they did a better job of acquiring audio description for their catalog titles, they’d be higher.
Final Grade: B-
3) HBO MAX
Honestly, I think they’ve been pushing their audio description pretty well. They have catalog titles, but they could offer more. I think what is putting them in third is that they keep purging titles that had audio description, and all of it is for the incoming flux of Discovery Plus titles, almost none of which have audio description. This might rank lower next year.
Final Grade: B
2) Apple Plus
Apple technically hasn’t done anything wrong. They might be the best service for your buck if you are blind, as every single title has audio description. it doesn’t matter what they made, a documentary, a kids series, foreign, or whatever. Apple has made a full commitment to audio description, and that’s commendable. They just lack catalog titles. And, that’s why they can’t have the top spot. And no, offering about eight movies each month that vibe with something on their service is not the same thing.
Final Grade: A-
1) Tie: Netflix and Disney Plus
Honestly, both services could be doing better because neither are at 100%. But, Netflix does spend money on having an American server that hosts audio description in a ton of different languages on foreign titles. Yes, they do need to offer more foreign titles with English Audio Description, especially major offerings like Bardo, but there’s a lot to like there. They also do a pretty good job of tracking down audio description for non-Netflix titles. I mean, am I the only one waiting to finish Better Call Saul on Netflix because I know it will have audio description? And over at Disney, they describe everything from little shorts to features, and have been going back through their catalog and adding audio description. if anyone is going to hit 100%, it’s likely Disney Plus, which is making the fastest and most concerted effort to add audio description. That makes it so weird that Hulu is the complete opposite. One service is all about accessibility, while the other can’t be bothered.
Final Grades: A
What do you think about my rankings? Are they fair? Do you think the rankings will change next year?