By Anastasia Bekker
Elm Staff Writer
While most people are aware of the catalogue of shows and movies offered by Netflix, Hulu, and other popular streaming services, there are a large variety of other platforms offering collections that appeal to more niche interests. While mainstream services like Netflix and Hulu offer a wide variety of choices with a larger selection, viewers looking to scratch a specific itch — like horror, Korean dramas, or musicals — may want to try out some of the smaller streaming services.
If you want to test out a few streaming services before settling on a subscription, each of the following options offer free trial periods to help you decide if the platform is for you.
So, without further ado, grab some popcorn, turn on your device, and get ready to try out a few of these platforms for your entertainment pleasure.
Criterion Channel hosts a collection of arthouse films and is geared toward fans of the independent and international movies.
For those unfamiliar with the genre, arthouse films are generally produced outside of Hollywood’s major film studios — the independent producers are the reason these films are also known as “indie” movies — and are generally artistic and experimental, leading to less mainstream appeal.
In addition to the film catalogue, Criterion Channel offers additional features and commentary on the movies.
“[F]or cinephiles, the interviews, commentary, scene breakdowns, and explorations of film history are invaluable,” Vox writers Aja Romano and Alissa Wilkinson said on Sept. 22.
Criterion Channel’s collection has over 2,000 titles at any given time, with movies being added and removed each month. They offer a 14-day trial, and then an option between a $10.99 monthly rate or a $99.99 yearly rate.
Another platform geared toward the arthouse community, Fandor offers a collection of 4,000 movies, including international films, as well as a classification system that allows the user to find exactly the exact genre, or subgenre, they’re in the mood to watch.
The platform helps viewers find their next favorite movie through staff picks, spotlights on recommended movies, and plenty of curated collections that appeal to specific tastes.
Fandor’s editors also provide notes and commentary on the films in the catalogue and make recommendations from recent film festivals.
Fandor not only has an impressive catalogue but a cheap monthly rate of $5.99 a month or $49.99 a year. They also offer a seven-day free trial of their services.
Viki is another platform for international content, specifically movies and shows from China and South Korea. Viki’s users from all over the globe help translate and create subtitles for its content. This means that the quality of the subtitles varies, but there’s also a wide range of available subtitle languages.
Viki has a basic paid subscription of $4.17 a month or $49.99 a year, as well as a premium version with early access to some content at $8.33 a month or $99.99 a year. A 30-day trial is included.
Britbox offers a collection of British films and shows, including popular favorites such as the original “Doctor Who” series and the sitcom “Fawlty Towers,” as well as more obscure titles. Britbox also offers current news coverage from BBC.
The large supply of British films and series, mostly from BBC and ITV, is available for $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year, including a seven-day trial period.
In addition to a similar range of British productions, Acorn TV also has titles from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and France. Compared to Britbox, Acorn TV has a richer supply of obscure films and television series, according to Romano and Wilkinson. They also produce some of their own shows, with stars like David Tennant in the lead roles.
“In terms of subscriptions, Acorn is an absolute must for anyone who wants to spend hours every day touring around quaint villages and gritty British city streets, enjoying gentle comedy and hard-hitting crime stories alike,” The New York Times reporter Noel Murray said.
Acorn TV offers its catalogue for $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year, with a seven-day trial period.
For fans of horror, there are several streaming options to turn to, now that the Halloween movie marathons have ended.
Geared towards horror fans, Shudder offers a rotating collection of scary movies, both mainstream and arthouse alike. The service costs $5.99 a month or $56.99 a year, including a seven-day trial.
“People are finding new ways to tell new stories in what is, for horror, a relatively new medium,” Craig Engler, the general manager of Shudder, said in an interview with Julia Alexander of The Verge. “Now that horror has jumped into the television space, into the streaming space, it’s here to stay at a higher level than it’s ever been.”
Shudder costs $5.99 a month or $56.99 a year, including a seven-day trial.
Fans of the horror genre can expect new content on mainstream services, too. Amazon has partnered with producer Jason Blum to create an anthology of horror films that are currently available on Amazon Prime Video. A continuation of the anthology will be released on the same platform in 2021.
Some streaming platforms cater towards fans of theater, whether that be with pre-taped versions of classic performances.
Broadway HD offers a catalogue of prerecorded performances, including theater, musicals, and opera, as well as pre-taped performances and pay-per view livestreams of current shows. The service cost $8.99 a month or $99.99 a year, including a seven-day trial.
Broadway On Demand offers a different type of service: viewers pay for livestreams of specific performances which range from Broadway to high school productions. The cost of each livestream varies, but the site also offers a Broadway Access bundle for an annual price of $119.88.
Whether your interest is Broadway musicals or BBC shows from decades ago, there’s a streaming service that fits your tastes.
While mainstream platforms offer a little bit for everyone, smaller services can offer a lot for your specific taste, so that you’ll never run out of movies and shows to watch next.
Featured Photo caption: Whether you’re looking for new releases, cult classics, or an in-between, these alternative streaming platforms can help you explore a wider range of entertaining films and TV series alike. Photo courtesy of Kayla Zapic.