In case you didn’t already have a Roku device, an Amazon Fire TV, a Chromecast, or an Apple TV, Verizon is launching a new set-top box called the Verizon Stream TV. It’s free for Verizon FiOS subscribers (according to 9to5Google), costs $69.99 otherwise, and it’s possibly the worst option for streaming on the market right now.
First, and probably most importantly, it doesn’t support Netflix. I’m guessing that’s all you need to know to never want to use the Stream TV, and I would understand if you’ve now decided to click away to read any of the other wonderful articles on The Verge. (Verizon confirms it doesn’t support Netflix at the end of this FAQ.)
But if you’re still with me, here’s what else the Stream TV offers. The box runs on Android TV, supports 4K HDR, and has the Google Assistant and a Chromecast built-in, which could theoretically be a decent combination for $70 if not for, you know, missing a key streaming service. 9to5Google says it will also come with a free month of YouTube TV, if that’s any consolation, and we know it supports Disney+ because it’ll come pre-loaded.
Given that the Stream TV runs on Android TV and has a Chromecast built in, we’re not quite sure why you can’t just download the Android TV Netflix app or cast Netflix from your phone — perhaps the box doesn’t have some kind of hardware requirement for Netflix? Maybe it doesn’t support the PlayReady DRM? Or maybe Verizon is just being petty. We’ve asked Verizon why Netflix doesn’t run on the Stream TV and we’ll update if we hear back.
There’s also a chance this actually isn’t the worst option out there for streaming — you could also be saddled with a $13 monthly fee for Comcast’s “free” Flex streaming box, which was initially going to cost $5 a month until Comcast decided it’d be sneakier to insist you pay monthly for a Comcast modem / router combo.
There are way better options out there. We recommend the Roku Premiere because it’s pretty cheap at $39.99, still supports both 4K and HDR at that lower price, and can run just about any streaming app you want. And it’s not made by a telecom company.