That’ll be the question for streaming consumers in February 2023, a month without many major releases, but quite a few minor — yet solidly entertaining — ones.
Netflix, with new seasons of some ridiculously addictive shows, and Apple TV+, with a star-studded lineup of originals, look like the best bets, but value can be found in almost every major service, even if it’s for just one thing, like the streaming premiere of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” on Disney+.
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 content 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 February 2023, and what’s really worth the monthly subscription fee.
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)
dominated a recent tally of the most-streamed programs of 2022, but even aside from its top-tier shows (“Stranger Things,” “Ozark,” etc), its second tier is still pretty darned binge-worthy. And a bunch of those are back with new seasons in February.
The most anticipated is Season 4 of the psychological thriller “You” (Feb. 9), starring Penn Badgley as Joe, a murderous stalker eternally looking for love. After burning down his world at the end of Season 3, we now find Joe living in London and — gasp! — in the crosshairs of a killer targeting the upper crust. It’s ridiculously binge-worthy, so much so that Netflix is splitting the season into two parts to juice viewership numbers (with part 2 streaming March 9).
Netflix also has Season 3 of the soapy mystery “Outer Banks” (Feb. 23), as the gang travels from North Carolina to the Caribbean in search of a legendary lost city; Season 3 of the throwback sitcom “The Upshaws” (Feb. 16), starring Wanda Sykes, Kim Fields and Mike Epps; and Season 5 of the adrenaline-fueled racing docuseries “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” (Feb. 24).
For more: Here’s everything new coming to Netflix in February 2023 — and what’s leaving
Just in time Valentine’s Day, there’s “Your Place Or Mine?” (Feb. 10), a “When Harry Met Sally”-ish rom-com starring Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher as longtime best friends who trade homes for a week and get a peek into each others’ lives.
And on the documentary side, there’s “Gunther’s Millions” (Feb. 1), about a dog with a $400 million trust fund and the pseudo-cult that evolved around his care; “Bill Russell: Legend” (Feb. 8), a film about the life and career of the 11-time NBA champion and Boston Celtics icon; and “Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal” (Feb. 22), a true-crime dive into the murder case that still has South Carolina (and elsewhere) abuzz.
Who’s Netflix for? Fans of buzz-worthy original shows and movies.
Play, pause or stop? Play. Even without any top-tier premieres, Netflix’s lineup is so deep that there’s still plenty worth checking out.
Apple TV+ ($6.99 a month)
Apple TV+ has got a loaded month, relatively — while there are only five premieres, they all look top-notch.
The month kicks off with “Dear Edward” (Feb. 3), a sprawling ensemble drama series about a 12-year-old boy (Colin O’Brien) who’s the sole survivor of a plane crash, his aunt (Taylor Schilling) who takes him in, and a variety of people who lost loved ones on the flight who bond and find hope through their shared grief. The 10-episode tearjerker reunites “Friday Night Lights” creator Jason Katims and co-star Connie Britton, and is based on the bestselling novel by Ann Napolitano. And seriously, have some Kleenex handy.
Other new series include the retro-futuristic dramedy “Hello Tomorrow!” (Feb. 17), starring Billy Crudup as a traveling salesman selling lunar timeshares in a sort of offbeat “Jetsons”-meets-“Glengarry Glen Ross” mashup, along with Hank Azaria, Alison Pill and Haneefah Wood; the post-Bourdain travel docuseries “The Reluctant Traveler” (Feb. 24), as Eugene Levy steps out of his comfort zone; and “Liaison” (Feb. 24), a six-episode French/English political thriller starring Vincent Cassel and Eva Green.
On the movie side, Apple
has “Sharper” (Feb. 17), a slick-looking, neo-noir thriller about a billion-dollar scam, starring Julianne Moore, Sebastian Stan and John Lithgow.
There are also new eps every week of the tonally uneven (yet promising) therapy comedy “Shrinking,” the podcasting mystery “Truth Be Told” and the final season of M. Night Shyamalan’s “Servant.”
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. While Apple typically follows the old HBO model of quality over quantity, this month there’s quantity too. And for a bargain price.
Amazon Prime Video ($14.99 a month)
has an under-the-radar but intriguing lineup in February.
The comedy “Harlem” (Feb. 3) returns for its second season, starring Meagan Good, Grace Byers, Jerrie Johnson and Shoniqua Shandai as four single women/best friends tackling careers and relationships in New York. It’s a charming, breezy show reminiscent of “Sex and the City” meets “Insecure,” and worth a watch.
There’s also the second and final season of the steampunk fantasy “Carnival Row” (Feb. 17), starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne as characters navigating a world where humans and fairies (technically fae-folk) coexist, though not so peacefully; “The Head of Joaquin Murrieta” (Feb. 17), a Spanish-language Western series about the legendary outlaw known as the Mexican Robin Hood, starring Juan Manuel Bernal; and “The Consultant” (Feb. 24), a workplace comedy-thriller starring Christoph Waltz as a demanding corporate consultant who turns an office’s world upside down.
Also see: Here’s everything coming to Amazon’s Prime Video in February 2023
On the movie side, Alison Brie stars in the rom-com “Somebody I Used to Know” (Feb. 10), directed by Dave Franco, about a workaholic woman who returns to her hometown and reunites with her first love.
Who’s Amazon Prime Video for? Movie lovers, TV-series fans who value quality over quantity.
Play, pause or stop? Pause and think it over. Prime Video is pricey, but all of the above seem very watchable, and there’s a deep library of series and movies too.
Hulu ($7.99 a month with ads, or $14.99 with no ads)
Hulu concludes two drama series in February, with Season 3 of “Wu Tang: An American Saga” (Feb. 15), the biographic series about the iconic hip-hop group as they evolve from neighborhood hooligans to superstardom, and Season 6 of FX’s epic ’80s crime drama “Snowfall” (Feb. 23), which promises an action-packed end to Franklin Saint’s drug empire. While neither has really become a breakout show (though “Snowfall” has come close), they’re both sharp and engaging.
Also see: Here’s everything coming to Hulu in February 2023 — and what’s leaving
There are also a handful of true-crime docuseries, including the Colin Kaepernick-produced “Killing County” (Feb. 3), about police killings in Central California, and the sordid “Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence” (Feb. 9); the final season of the “Animaniacs” reboot (Feb. 17); and a slew of network shows, like ABC’s “A Million Little Things” (Feb. 9), ABC’s “American Idol” (Feb. 20), and Fox’s new sitcom “Animal Control” (Feb. 17); as well as new episodes every week of “How I Met Your Father,” “Abbott Elementary” and “Will Trent.”
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? Pause. February’s lineup is good but not great, but Hulu’s extensive library of TV shows could tip the scale.
HBO Max ($9.99 a month with ads, or $15.99 with no ads)
HBO Max has an uncharacteristic lack of new programming in February, with the notable exceptions being the welcome return of new episodes of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” every week (starting Feb. 19), the delightfully raunchy “Harley Quinn: A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special” (Feb. 9) and a Marc Maron standup-comedy special (Feb. 11).
Max is, however, a good place to catch up on Oscar contenders. In February it adds Sam Mendes’ romantic drama “Empire of Light” (Feb. 7) and the Indian documentary “All That Breathes” (Feb. 7), to go along with fellow nominees “The Banshees of Inisherin,” “The Batman,” “Elvis” and “Navalny” already in its library.
For more: Here’s everything new coming to HBO Max in February 2023 — and what’s leaving
There’s also a U.S. women’s soccer match against Canada (Feb. 16), the addition of the James Bond movie collection (Feb. 1) and new episodes every week of the gripping yet bleak post-apocalyptic drama “The Last of Us.”
Who’s HBO Max for? HBO fans and movie lovers.
Play, pause or stop? Pause. “The Last of Us” is very good, “Last Week Tonight” is always fantastic, and a “Harley Quinn” Valentine’s special sounds delicious. But really, for its hefty monthly price, there should be more on the menu. Might be best to save $16 and wait until March, when “Succession” returns.
Peacock (free basic, Premium for $4.99 a month with ads, or $9.99 a month with no ads)
The real draw for Peacock in February are the weekly new episodes of “Poker Face,” Rian Johnson’s clever new mystery-of-the-week drama starring Natasha Lyonne that premiered in late January. Harkening to classic ’70s “howcatchems” like “Columbo,” it’s a fun ride that’s worth $5 a month all by itself.
Aside from that, Peacock has Season 2 of the underwhelming “Fresh Prince” drama reboot “Bel-Air” (Feb. 23), as original cast member Tatyana Ali joins the show, though in a different role; the civil-rights documentary “Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power” (Feb. 2), following a group of young Black activists in 1960s Alabama; Hallmark Channel original movies such as “A Paris Proposal” (Feb. 11) and “Welcome to Valentine” (Feb. 18); and new episodes of the buzzy reality show “The Traitors,” the surprise hit “Night Court” reboot and new episodes of “Saturday Night Live.”
The live-sports side features the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (Feb. 2-5) — good news: Fan favorite Bill Murray will return to the tournament this year — as well as a full slate of English Premier League soccer, winter sports and PGA golf.
Who’s Peacock for? If you have a Comcast
cable subscription, you likely have free access to the Premium tier (with ads) — though reportedly not for much longer. The free tier is almost worthless, and the paid tiers generally aren’t necessary unless for sports.
Play, pause or stop? Pause. “Poker Face” is worth the price of a subscription, but there’s not a lot past that.
Disney+ ($7.99 a month with ads, $10.99 with no ads)
only has one major headliner in February, but it’s a big one: The streaming premiere of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (Feb. 1). The smash-hit Marvel superhero sequel and Oscar nominee, starring Angela Bassett and Letitia Wright, is well worth watching, and may be worth a subscription all by itself.
But aside from that, it’s mostly tumbleweeds. The animated “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” (Feb. 1) is back for its second season; the animated kids’ superhero show “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” (Feb. 15), based on the popular comic, debuts its first six eps; “National Treasure: Edge of History” concludes its first season Feb. 8; and there are new eps of the animated “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” every week.
Hang in there, though: The new season of “The Mandalorian” is coming in March.
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? Stop. There’s just not enough right now. If you can wait another month to watch “Wakanda Forever,” do, because that and “The Mandalorian” should easily be worth the price.
Paramount+ ($4.99 a month with ads, $9.99 with no ads)
In a shocking development, Taylor Sheridan does not have a new show coming out in February.
Paramount+ does, though, have the return of “Star Trek: Picard” (Feb 16), which is back for its third and final season, with Patrick Stewart reprising his iconic role. Showrunner Terry Matalas has said this season passes the torch to “the next generation,” and has hinted at a potential spinoff series, so this may not be the last you see of Jean-Luc Picard & Co.
There’s also “At Midnight” (Feb. 10), a rom-com set at a Mexican hotel and starring Monica Barbaro and Diego Boneta; special “Black Voices” and “Peak Romance” collections of old favorites to celebrate Black History Month and Valentine’s Day, respectively; and new eps of Jeremy Renner’s “Mayor of Kingtown” (see, can’t entirely escape Taylor Sheridan) and the werewolf drama “Wolf Pack.”
Paramount will also stream the 65th Annual Grammy Awards (Feb. 5), UEFA Champions League soccer returns Feb. 14, and there are a ton of NCAA basketball games to whet your appetite ahead of March Madness.
FYI, Paramount announced Monday it will combine the premium tier of Paramount+ with its premium cable channel Showtime later this year, which should help it compete against rivals like HBO Max but also result in some shows getting canceled and/or de-platformed amid the consolidation (sadly, also like HBO Max). The price will almost certainly rise too. Showtime is currently available on Paramount+ as an add-on bundle.
Who’s Paramount+ for? Gen X cord-cutters who miss live sports and familiar Paramount Global
broadcast and cable shows.
Play, pause or stop? Stop. Trekkies will tune in for “Picard,” but this month’s lineup is light otherwise.
Discovery+ ($4.99 a month with ads, or $6.99 with no ads)
Discovery+ is barely even trying anymore as Warner Bros. Discovery
gets ready to merge it with HBO Max this spring, offering only the likes of “Heartbreak Island” (Feb. 14) and the latest seasons of “Married at First Sight” (Feb. 1) and “Pawn Stars” (Feb. 1).
Who’s Discovery+ for? Cord-cutters who miss their unscripted TV or who are really, really into “90 Day Fiancé.”
Play, pause or stop? Stop. Discovery+ is fine for background TV, but it’s not worth the cost.