“There’s nothing to watch” seems like a gross overstatement in the digital golden age of 2018, but we’ll admit it: We’ve grown a bit tired with Netflix’s selection. Our exasperation starts when we scroll past The Santa Clarita Diet for the 4,000th time.
The good news is that there are dozens of other video streaming services out there. The bad news is they vary greatly in quality, cost, and content—but if you have a niche interest, you can certainly find a few exciting new streaming options. Here are a few of our current faves.
Remember when Discovery Channel played nature and historical documentaries, not rerun after rerun of Deadliest Catch and Gold Rush?
CuriosityStream scratches that same itch. With more than 1,500 science, tech, history, and nature documentaries, it’s a formidable resource for educational content. Its editor-curated collections help you find something to watch—for instance, the Stephen Hawking collection contains six great flicks about the late astrophysicist—and we had no trouble maintaining steady video quality in our tests.
I love me a good documentary.
— Evan Childs (@EvanChilds11) May 28, 2018
This is an excellent option for educators and parents, and with Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and Xbox One support, it’s fairly easy to set up. If you love getting lost in a great documentary, it’s well worth the paltry price of admission.
$2.99 per month for SD quality, $5.99 for HD quality, and $11.99 for 4K quality. Honestly, we get by just fine on the $2.99 plan, but if you’re getting the service for nature documentaries, you might consider shelling out for one of the premium plans.
Learn more and get a free trial here.
If the words “Criterion Collection” mean anything to you, stop what you’re doing and sign up for FilmStruck.
Geared toward movie fanatics, FilmStruck is fully stocked with classics, along with exhilarating behind-the-scenes documentaries, rare footage, director interviews, and other extras. Those additional features help justify the relatively high price tag (we’ll get to that in a moment).
In our tests, FilmStruck maintained a clear HD picture, which brought new life to some of our favorites like 1972’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Of course, you don’t necessarily have to be a film buff to love FilmStruck—it’s also loaded with cult classics like The Crow—but a healthy appreciation for the arts will help you get the most out of your subscription.
Prices start at $6.99, but you’ll need to pay $10.99 to access the Criterion Channel, which is FilmStruck’s real draw. While the price seems high, remember that you get a plethora of actor and director interviews with many of the films. This is the most expensive service on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great value.
Classic films and documentaries aren’t for everyone. Sometimes, you just want to sit back and watch some cheerleaders run from an axe-wielding maniac, and that’s where Shudder comes in.
Of the various horror streaming services available at the moment, Shudder is easily our favorite, thanks to a hauntingly good interface, expertly curated collections, and a growing list of exclusive shows.
Our favorite feature: Shudder lets users review movies with a simple five-star (er, five-skull) system, and the site’s enormous community leaves insightful comments that helped us figure out what we wanted to watch. It doesn’t sound like such a groundbreaking feature—Netflix had something similar for years—but after a few days on the site, we were wondering why other streaming services are less transparent with their user reviews.
$4.99 per month, but annual memberships are available for $47.88 ($3.99 per month). Student discounts are also available. Just be sure to pay on time, or they’ll send an axe-wielding maniac your way.