'Tis the season to be streaming, fa-la-la-la-la etc etc. But there's much more out there then just the two biggies of Neon and Netflix. A deluge of streaming services have flooded into this space this year, catering for all sorts of niche viewing.
With the carefree combo of Christmas holidays and the scattering of stat days rapidly approaching, coupled with the wet and wild unpredictability of our weather at this time of year, now's the perfect time to wade in and see which streaming services float your boat.
Eh by gum, this 'ere service specialises in only the best telly from ol' Blighty. If that's yer cup of milky tea son, then point yer peepers and 'ave a butchers. Ahem. Sorry about that...
On Acorn TV you'll find only the best of British, like those gritty British crime thrillers, intriguing mysteries and lavishly produced dramas that they do so well.
There's a solid mix of older favourites like Poirot, Cold Feet and Broadchurch as well as the latest and greatest premium shows like the incredibly popular police thriller Line of Duty and the BBC's acclaimed new mini-series Anthony.
Recommended for: Those that prefer quality over quantity and, of course, ex-pats.
Verdict: Acorn TV is a Brit of alright (ba-dom-tish)
Cost: $7.99 a month. Seven day free trial.
Amazon Prime Video
The online retail giant express shipped itself into the streaming space with a massive range of movies and TV shows a few years back. In New Zealand we're bereft of the free shipping perk that comes with being a Prime member meaning the streaming service has to stand on its own. Which, thanks to the unholy amount of cash Amazon has pumped into it, it does.
APV's big draws are the whopper-budgeted, attention-grabbing, originals. The most notable was launch series The Grand Tour, which saw Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond speeding over from the BBC.
Since, they've steadily built a top library of original movies and shows including many must-sees, like the news-making hidden camera comedy Borat 2, brutal anti-superhero series The Boys, and the acclaimed TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Good Omens.
Recommended for: Those that miss aimlessly wandering around a video store (remember those?) for hours trying to decide what to watch.
Verdict: Amazon Prime Video delivers.
Cost:US$5.99 a month (about NZD $9.00). Seven-day free trial.
Once the preserve of hardcore devotees Japanese animated movies and shows have exploded in popularity in recent years, largely thanks to their relatively new ease of availability.
And it gets no easier than AnimeLab. It's positively bubbling over with shows and movies that will satisfy both a casual audience after the big names like Naruto, One Piece and Dragon Ball Z as well as long-term fans after more esoteric stuff like Death Note, Demon Slayer and Tokyo Ghoul. History buffs can even dig out classics dating all the way back to 1963's original Astro Boy.
Best of all there's no chance of spoilers as new episodes stream just an hour after their Japanese broadcast, with most offering an English dub or the more fan-approved original Japanese with English subtitles.
Recommended for: Anyone with even the slightest interest in Japanese cartoons.
Verdict:Animezing amount on offer makes it a can't miss option for fans.
Cost: $7.99 per month. 30 day free trial. A free option also available with ads.
As with everything, Apple has thought differently about its streaming offering. There's a boutique selection of very expensive and very slick originals. But this quality takes time and, being relatively new, their menu of shows and films are updating as slowly as an update for your iPhone.
But what's currently there is very good indeed. We're talking Jennifer Aniston's acclaimed sitcom The Morning Show, Bill Murray starring in Sofia Coppola's brand new movie On the Rocks, Tom Hanks captaining a submarine in the big budget WW2 action-thriller Greyhound and the queen of chat Oprah Winfrey back conversing with people like music legend Stevie Wonder.
Apple TV+ is splashing out on all the shiny big names but whether its smaller selection just works for you is something to think about.
Recommended for: Apple fans who have updated their devices.
Verdict: Apple's not iPhoneing it in, but it needs some time before there's a fruitful amount on offer.
Cost: A year free with some Apple devices or $8.99 a month. Seven-day free trial.
What's on offer here is truly no less than the keys to Disney's magic kingdom. It's a family friendly cornucopia of kid friendly classics, firm fan favourites and curiosities from deep within Disney's vaults.
Along with the modern-day blockbusters like Mulan (which goes free on Dec 4) and Frozen II, there are also all their historic classics, stretching all the way back to 1937's groundbreaking Snow White, and plenty of oddities like sci-fi flick The Black Hole to discover. There's also a huge amount of Disney short films and TV shows and a growing number of Disney+ originals..
If that was all it'd be enough. But it's not. Not by a long shot.
Inside the House of Mouse you'll also find the entire catalogue of Marvel's superhero blockbusters and TV shows, Pixar's award winning catalogue of movies and the full Star Wars legacy across film and TV.
Recommended for: Kids of all ages.
Verdict: If your holidays include children then this is a no brainer. If they don't, well, Star Wars series The Mandalorian alone makes it worth it.
Cost: $9.99 a month, Seven-day free trial
Become the toast of every dinner party or barbecue you are invited to with your encyclopedic knowledge of a wide range of specialist subjects.
DocPlay is home to over 700 international and local docos, including award winners, Oscar nominees and quality film festival fare. No matter your interest, whether you want suitably serious or hugely humorous, there's a doco here to match your mood.
But the joy of DocPlay is discovering documentaries on topics you never really thought much about or previously cared for. The best of the genre can turn even the driest subject matter into a riveting watch.
No matter what you want to know about, whether it's political or social issues or topics like nature, art, music or even life itself, then here you'll find a brilliant doco about it.
In no time at al you'll know a little about an awful lot and never be stuck for conversation again.
Recommended for: Those who want to keep it real.
Verdict: If you like doco's then this'll do the trick.
Price: $7.99 a month. 30 day free trial.
Even the most hardy fan of the great outdoors can find themselves stuck indoors when the weather turns. But rain need not stop the adventure any longer as this relatively new service has nothing but the best sporty shows and activity based docos.
With categories like Skateboard Classics, Custom Motorcycles, Inspirational Women, Bike, Surf and Snow you'll quickly find the outdoorsy pursuit that you're looking for. And a high chance of some you didn't know you did actually want to watch more of.
But even if you don't identify as "sports mad" there's still plenty to entice here, as many are set in stunning locations around the world and often feature inspiring tales as people throw themselves against the various forces of nature, ridiculous speed, each other and, often, good common sense.
Recommended for: People who would rather be outside instead of inside watching TV.
Verdict: Almost as much fun as actually partaking in the activities themselves.
Price: $7.99 a month. 30 day free trial.
Having recently assimilated its former streaming competitor Lightbox, the new look Neon is refreshed and revitalised and an increasingly worthwhile proposition.
They offer a hugely impressive library of premium movies and TV shows at a cheaper price than main competitor Netflix. But because its not focused on creating its own content the chances that you'll find something you've heard about and actually want to watch is much higher.
You'll find all the conversation-setting premium HBO shows, like Nicole Kidman's current hit The Undoing, occult horror Lovecraft Country and the premium superhero show Watchmen as well as buzz series like The Handmaid's Tale, The Comey Rule and Fear the Walking Dead.
And they're no slouch when it comes to movies either, with Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, Doctor Sleep and Ford vs Ferrari just a few of the must-sees recently landed.
Recommended for: Just about everyone, but especially those wanting to be part of the pop culture conversation.
Verdict: Neon's really flickered to life in recent months and needs to be strongly considered.
Price: $13.95 a month, 14 day free trial
The elephant splashing around in the streaming space is Netflix. Since launching in New Zealand four years ago the streaming behemoth has recalibrated their focus in a big way. No longer dependent on hosting a big catalogue of third party offerings, Netflix now pumps considerable resource into creating its own original content that it hopes will entice you.
For the most part the strategy has worked with shows like retro sci-fi horror Stranger Things, historical royal drama The Crown and violent crime thriller Narcos all winning over critics and audiences alike. Movie-wise they've made films like Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, the Adam Sandler starring drama Uncut Gems and Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods, which were all worthy of the huge critical acclaim they received. Their commitment to stand-up comedy must also to be applauded.
That's the cream.
But there's no denying that as Netflix tries to be all things to all people it pumps out a lot of unsatisfying bubbly froth that won't interest you in the slightest.
Recommended for: Most people. By casting a wide net there's something to lure you in.
Verdict: What it lacks in specificity it makes up for in bulk. A safe bet, but not the no-brainer it once was.
Price: $16.99 for High Definition per month. No free trial
Hacking and slashing its way onto our screens is Shudder, a brand new streaming service dedicated to all things gory, stomach-churning and very, very scary.
Horror fans will be screaming with joy at Shudder's murderously good selection. You'll find a lovingly curated range of blood-soaked flicks covering everything from 80s video nasties, true cult classics, bloody documentaries, indie nightmares and recent favourites. They've even started producing their own fright-filled originals.
Curiously, a subscription to Shudder's horror show also comes with access to Shudder TV, a pre-programmed station playing nothing but the hits: stabs, strangles and slashes 24/7. If you can't decide what to watch then simply let someone else decide for you.
Killer content indeed.
Recommended for: People not afraid of the dark.
Verdict: Bloody great.
Price: $7.99 per month, Seven day free trial.