While Netflix, Amazon and Hulu try to be all things to all people, other streaming services are targeting their content to more specific audiences. Whether it’s indie film, British TV, or Manga and anime, here are some providers that are bringing specialized content to your favorite device or home theater.
Other Streaming Services to Enjoy
Expect to start seeing more and more of these new streaming services in the coming years.
We have already mentioned the very niche Acorn.tv, which offers strictly British television. Much of these programs fall into the mystery/crime genre, though, there are also quite a few comedies. A lot of these shows may already be familiar, as they have aired on PBS or A&E (before they became the “Duck Dynasty” network).
With surprising frequency, Martin Clunes of “Doc Martin” fame stars in more than a few; but you’ll also see other familiar faces like Helen – sorry, Dame Helen Mirren, Hugh Laurie, Albert Finney, Stephen Fry, and James Nesbit.
Price: $4.99 per month. Acornonline.com is essentially “Amazon for the PBS set”. The streaming service is part of their larger, online shopping site, but you don’t have to purchase anything to enjoy the great shows.
Downside: The catalogue is somewhat limited, and shows are not permanently included (watch for the “leaving soon” notices). However, as Acorn grows, it is already increasing its library with more popular shows and timeless classics, as well as their exclusive distribution rights to the final season of “Agatha Christie’s Poirot.”
Availability: Roku, iPhone, iPad
If it’s international flavor you’re after, Viewster is a Swiss-based streaming service is slightly more exotic. It offers both movies and television shows from Commonwealth broadcasters, as well as Spanish, German, French and South Korean media. All of these are conveniently categorized by language and genre, including Anime.
Some offerings are for rental, but mostly it’s free. Viewster is also highly interactive. The network has an eponymous Online Film Festival every few months, which is mutually beneficial as the festival allows indie filmmakers to submit for the opportunity to get their work seen. Viewster also welcomes submissions of original content to become part of their library, particularly web series.
Price: Free, though some titles require a rental fee.
Downside: Limited library, though constantly growing.
Availability: Roku, Android, iPhone, online
Fandor was created by film industry insiders with film aficionados in mind. It offers a wide range of films from all over the world as part of their mission to provide “… a home for anyone who wants to experience the transformative power of film [and] explore the world through a screen from the comfort of home.”
Now overseen by independent film’s Grand Master, Ted Hope, Fandor offers a comprehensive, eclectic library of everything from early pre-code films to current festival darlings.
Price: $10 per month. Worth it for the enormity of their catalogue.
Downside: None, if you’re super into movies.
Availability: iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Android, Chromecast, Roku, online
Owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, Crackle may be a niche network at the moment, but that is changing rapidly. This is one of the other streaming services that truly is free. There is no membership fee or rental cost. However, like it’s bigger, more popular cousin Hulu, Crackle pays for its content via commercials.
Still, the content is pretty top notch, including Emmy-nominated original series. Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” is now in its fourth season with a spinoff version “Single Shot.” Crackle is always keeping content fresh by “handpicking the best, most compelling selection of full-length Hollywood movies, TV shows and originals.”
Downside: Commercials at regular intervals. Content rotates quickly, so a movie you may have been looking forward to might not be there when you get the chance to sit down and watch it.
Availability: Nearly every device and platform.
Other streaming services that are more widely available are:
Pretty reasonable rental rates for both TV episodes and films. Mostly current offerings, with some “modern classics” as well.
Huge catalogue with industry-leading streaming quality in both picture and sound. Titles from Vudu are scheduled for same-day release as their DVD/Blu-ray counterparts. It’s free to open an account, however, rental fees can be a bit steep.