Summer is almost here, and the streaming schedule is finally easing up enough to let viewers venture outside once in a while.
After a two-month deluge of Emmy bait, the release schedule is significantly lighter in June, though not without its gems, such as new seasons of Hulu’s “The Bear,” Apple’s “Swagger” and Netflix’s “Black Mirror.”
But with budget-conscious consumers in mind as streaming costs continue to rise, June’s top three services can be had for just about $30, which should allow for a little spare ice-cream money.
Each month, this column offers tips on how to maximize your streaming and your budget, rating the major services as a “play,” “pause” or “stop” — similar to investment analysts’ traditional ratings of buy, hold or sell. We also pick the best shows to help you make your monthly decisions.
Consumers can take full advantage of cord cutting with a churn-and-return strategy — adding and dropping streaming services each month. All it takes is good planning. Keep in mind that a billing cycle starts when you sign up, not necessarily at the beginning of the month, and keep an eye out for lower-priced tiers, limited-time discounts, free trials and cost-saving bundles. There are a lot of offers out there, but the deals don’t last forever.
Here’s a look at what’s coming to the various streaming services in June 2023, and what’s really worth the monthly subscription fee.
Hulu ($7.99 a month with ads, or $14.99 with no ads)
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the kitchen, “The Bear” (June 22) returns for another season of anxiety-inducing levels of stress, drool-inducing food and goosebump-inducing needle drops. The critically acclaimed dramedy became a surprise hit last summer, and Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) and Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) are back for Season 2, working with the rest of their motley crew to transform their greasy-spoon sandwich shop into an upscale dining destination. Though it may give some people panic attacks, it’s a beautiful and mesmerizing series, and there is zero reason to believe this won’t be one of the TV highlights of the year.
Hulu has a loaded lineup beyond that, with “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (June 8) back for an astounding 16th season; the acclaimed British drama “Somewhere Boy” (June 7), about an extremely sheltered teen discovering the outside world; a series revival of the hit ’90s movie “The Full Monty” (June 14), with much of the original cast — including Robert Carlyle, Tom Wilkinson and Mark Addy — returning for a celebration of enduring friendships; the biopic “Flamin’ Hot” (June 9, also on Disney+), about how a janitor (played by Jesse Garcia) at Frito-Lay came up with the idea for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (though it may be more of an urban legend than a true story); and the streamer will celebrate Pride month by livestreaming parades in Los Angeles (June 11) and Houston (June 24), along with a “Pride Across America” (April 25) special.
Who’s Hulu for? TV lovers. There’s a deep library for those who want older TV series and next-day streaming of many current network and cable shows.
Play, pause or stop? Play. Hulu is going to be on fire this summer, with one outstanding show after another (still to come: “Justified: City Primeval” in July and Season 3 of “Reservation Dogs” in August).
Apple TV+ ($6.99 a month)
One complaint about the recently completed “Ted Lasso” (one of many this season) is that the on-field action was never exactly realistic. But that’s certainly not the case with “Swagger” (June 23), whose actors can legitimately hoop, leading to some eye-popping on-court action scenes. Season 2 of the coming-of-age drama, based on NBA star Kevin Durant’s youth basketball experience, finds budding superstar Jace (Isaiah Hill) getting recruited by colleges, but an incident from the past threatens to derail his bright future. With its blend of inspiration, perspiration and a ton of heart, Season 1 was one of 2021’s best shows, reminiscent of the late, great “Friday Night Lights.” It deserves to be a hit, and is definitely worth a watch.
And don’t forget new episodes every week of the noirish dramedy “High Desert” (season finale June 21), the sci-fi drama “Silo” (season finale June 30) and the very funny Seth Rogen–Rose Byrne hangout comedy “Platonic.”
Who’s Apple TV+ for? It offers a little something for everyone, but not necessarily enough for anyone — although it’s getting there.
Play, pause or stop? Play. Apple has a very watchable current lineup, and for just $7.
Netflix ($6.99 a month for basic with ads, $9.99 basic with no ads, $15.49 standard with no ads, $19.99 premium with no ads)
Even as our world gets more dystopian, the sci-fi anthology series “Black Mirror” (date TBA) reminds us that things could always be worse. After a four-year layoff, Charlie Booker’s Emmy-winning series is back for its sixth installment, featuring five new episodes — two of which take place in alternate pasts, while another two deal with the perils of celebrity life. Guest stars include Aaron Paul, Annie Murphy, Himesh Patel, Josh Hartnett, Kate Mara, Michael Cera, Salma Hayek Pinault and Zazie Beetz. While recent seasons have been hit-and-miss, having a new “Black Mirror” is always an event to look forward to.
The supernatural drama “Manifest” (June 2), which Netflix rescued from NBC’s cancellation, comes to a conclusion with the second part of its fourth season; Mindy Kaling’s coming-of-age comedy “Never Have I Ever” (June 8) will also conclude with its upcoming fourth season; and the fantasy drama “The Witcher” (June 29) has Part 1 of its third season (and the final one starring Henry Cavill).
Chris Hemsworth is back in the big-budget action sequel “Extraction 2” (June 16), as a mercenary who must bust a gangster’s family out of prison; there are a pair of timely sports docuseries in “Tour de France: Unchained” (June 8), a behind-the-scenes look at the 2022 bike race, and “Break Point: Part 2” (June 21), spanning the second half of last year’s tennis season, from Wimbledon to the U.S. Open; Amy Schumer has a new standup comedy special, “Emergency Contact” (June 13); and there’s also the romantic-comedy movie — a genre that Netflix does surprisingly well — “The Perfect Find” (June 23), starring Gabrielle Union and Keith Powers.
Who’s Netflix for? Fans of buzz-worthy original shows and movies.
Play, pause or stop? Play. “Black Mirror” is always watchable, and there are plenty of other perfectly entertaining series and movies on tap.
Max ($9.99 a month with ads, or $15.99 with no ads)
The former HBO Max enters a new era in June, with a new name and without its two best series, after “Succession” and “Barry” just ended their epic runs. So what comes next? A mixed bag, if June is any indication.
Max seems to be aiming for shock value and little else with “The Idol” (June 4), the hugely controversial new drama from “Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson and Abel Tesfaye, aka pop star The Weeknd. Lily-Rose Depp — Johnny Depp’s daughter — stars as an emotionally fragile pop idol who falls under the spell of a self-help guru/cult leader, played by Tesfaye. A recent exposé by Rolling Stone revealed a troubled production that flew off the rails, including claims of a toxic work environment and a misogynistic, “torture porn” rewrite full of copious nudity and graphic sex. Early reviews have been scathing, calling it everything from a “sordid male fantasy” to “nasty, brutish…and way, way worse than you’d have anticipated.” Skeevy, trashy and shallow, this is one that’s safe to skip.
Max also has Season 2 of “And Just Like That …” (June 22), the “Sex and the City” revival, with John Corbett’s Aiden set to reappear in the now-widowed Carrie’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) life, as well as a Samantha cameo; Season 3 of “The Righteous Gemstones” (June 18), the ridiculously over-the-top megachurch comedy starring Danny McBride; Season 3 of “Warrior” (June 29), the martial-arts action series set in post–Gold Rush San Francisco’s Chinatown; and Season 2 of Steve Dildarian’s animated cringe-comedy “Ten Year Old Tom” (June 29).
There’s also James Cameron’s blockbuster sci-fi sequel “Avatar: The Way of Water” (June 7, also on Disney+), and even more Warner Bros. Discovery WBD,
Who’s Max for? HBO fans and movie lovers. And now, unscripted-TV fans too, with a slew of Discovery+ shows.
Play, pause or stop? Pause and think it over. “The Idol” aside, there look to be some good shows on the way. But at that price, you kinda want some great shows.
Disney+ ($7.99 a month with ads, $10.99 with no ads)
Disney+ is rolling out its first Marvel series of the year with “Secret Invasion” (June 23), starring Samuel L. Jackson, Emilia Clarke, Cobie Smulders and Ben Mendelsohn. Billed as a Cold War–style paranoia thriller, Jackson’s Nick Fury will lead an effort to save humanity by foiling shapeshifting aliens (Krulls, as seen in “Captain Marvel”) from infiltrating positions of power around the world. The six-episode miniseries will launch the TV side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s so-called Phase 5 (with “Loki” and “Echo” coming later this year), and looks to be Marvel’s darkest and most grown-up show since “Moon Knight.”
And if you missed the news, dozens of original shows — including “Willow,” “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” and “Artemis Fowl” — have been removed from Disney+ and Hulu, and more are likely to vanish as part of a cost-saving move.
Who’s Disney+ for? Families with kids, hardcore “Star Wars” and Marvel fans. For people not in those groups, Disney’s library can be lacking.
Play, pause or stop? Pause. “Secret Invasion” will be a must-see for Marvel fans, and “Avatar” will be worth a watch, but beyond that, there’s not a lot right now. And the removal of so many series is troubling, as subscribers will end up paying more for less programming.
Amazon’s Prime Video ($14.99 a month)
Dads everywhere can cheer the return of “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” (June 30), as John Krasinski is back for a fourth and final season as an everyman–turned–superspy–turned–CIA bureaucrat who’s tasked with weeding out a sinister conspiracy within the agency. The first couple of seasons were dumb fun, but the last one was just dumb. Here’s hoping “Jack Ryan” can go out on a high note.
Who’s Prime Video for? Movie lovers, TV-series fans who value quality over quantity.
Play, pause or stop? Pause. There’s the potential for some entertaining series, but for that price, it’d be nice if there were more solid locks.
Peacock (Premium for $4.99 a month with ads, or $9.99 a month with no ads)
In the most meta thing this side of Mark Zuckerberg, Peacock is looking to capitalize on the true-crime trend with a series about a couple looking to capitalize on the true-crime trend. “Based on a True Story” (June 8) stars Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina as a broke married couple (and true-crime podcast fans) who try to cash in by starting a podcast of their own to try to solve a neighborhood murder. It sounds “Only Murders in the Building”–esque, but Cuoco and Messina are so good in everything they do that it shouldn’t matter, and it looks like a fun enough romp.
Peacock also has the LeBron James biopic “Shooting Stars” (June 2), along with live sports such as U.S. Open golf (June 15-18), Major League Baseball every Sunday morning, and a full slate of track and field, IndyCar racing, USFL and golf.
Who’s Peacock for? Live sports and next-day NBCUniversal shows are the main draw, but there’s a good library of shows and movies.
Play, pause or stop? Stop. The sports calendar is slow, and watching “Based on a True Story” can likely wait until a more loaded month.
Paramount+ ($4.99 a month with ads, $9.99 with no ads, $11.99 a month with Showtime)
Of all of Paramount’s many “Star Trek” spinoffs, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” (June 15) may be the best, and it’s back for Season 2. Following the interstellar adventures of Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) and the pre-Kirk USS Enterprise, the new season will see drink-ups with Klingons, an awkward smooch for Spock, plenty of space fights and feature a live-action crossover with characters from the animated “Lower Decks.”
Paramount+ also has new seasons of the sitcom “iCarly” (June 1) and docuseries “FBI True” (June 20), a livestream of the Tony Awards (June 11), and some huge soccer matches, with the UEFA Champions League final, as Manchester City plays Inter in Istanbul (June 10), and the Concacaf Nations League semifinal between archrivals U.S. and Mexico (June 15), with the winner playing Canada or Panama in the final (June 18).
On the Showtime side, there’s “S.O.G.: The Book of Ward” (June 2), a documentary about Hall of Fame boxer Andre Ward; “Loudmouth” (June 16), a documentary about the life of the Rev. Al Sharpton; and the conclusion of the limited series “Ghosts of Beirut” (June 9).
Heads up: On June 27, Paramount+ will officially merge with Showtime, and prices will rise by $1 to $2 a month.
Who’s Paramount+ for? Gen X cord-cutters who miss live sports and familiar Paramount Global PARA,
Play, pause or stop? Stop. “Strange New Worlds” is fun, but there’s not a whole lot else (and the Champions League final will also air free on CBS).