Inside the Internet
Netflix & Hulu Alternatives: 15 Niche Streaming Services To Know
Oct 29th, 2019
There are some shows that *almost* everyone loves, like Game of Thrones. But the great thing about the internet is that there are *almost* infinite options to finding something new to watch. But when you’re caught in the vortex of Netflix and Hulu suggested content, it can be mysteriously difficult to find the exact show you want to watch, especially when you have, uh, particular tastes (horror addicts, we’re looking at you).
Want to listen to the dulcet tones of British accents - but don’t feel like the Great British Bake Off again? Maybe you’re trying to get scared out of your mind and Scary Movie 4 really isn’t it. Or you want to watch Like Mike (because any Michael Jordan cameo is gold) but there’s no way you’re going to find that while scrolling through cable channels or your run-of-the-mill content factories like Netflix and Hulu.
Check out this [non-exhaustive] list of streaming services that focus on and offer entertainment content in some narrow niches. They may be just what you’re looking for to satisfy your very specific craving.
Genre: Anime and manga
Cost: Free or $7.99/month for Premium
Audience: Crunchyroll is the streaming service for Anime and Manga -- if you’re just diving into the genre, this is the spot to start. With content from older anime like “Ruroni Kenshin” to popular current shows like “Dragon Ball Super” and “Black Clover,” they have a global community of over 45 million users. The content is professionally translated into multiple languages and fans can even stream events like Crunchyroll Expo or Anime Awards.
Cost: Free or $4.99/month for Premium
Audience: Sometimes, you just want to sit your kids in front of the TV and take a moment to breathe -- but cable and the auto “Continue to Watch” feature on YouTube or Netflix is fraught with “what are you watching?!” This streaming service ensures those panic attacks don’t happen. Material on the platform is screened and follows COPPA (The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) compliance, so parents can feel at ease to let their kid(s) surf through shows on Toon Goggles. You can create a profile for your child complete with an avatar and password to select age appropriate content.
Cost: $5.99/month, $56.99/year
Audience: If terror is your thing, Shudder has your back—watch out behind you! An AMC Networks company, they boast a collection of exclusive content, suspense, thrillers and more all curated and reviewed by experts. The interface is similar to Netflix, but their specific categories like Get Rad (80s horror), A Woman’s Touch (featuring women horror directors), A-Plus (Asian horror) really helps. They occasionally have guest curated selections from stars like Joe Bob Briggs and you can engage with other fans through their review community.
Cost: $4.99/month, $35.99/year
Audience: While Shudder might be the spot for your mainstream horror movies, ScreamBox offers scary indie flicks, most of which you’ve probably never heard of before. They are starting to expand to the HorrorTube world as well - Homicidal Homemaker made her series available on the platform. The choice is yours, you just may be sleeping with the lights on from now on.
Cost: $0.99/two weeks, $11.99/month, $29/three months, $99/year
Audience: A platform for more than just shows, Gaia boasts answers to life’s “deeper questions” as the largest offering of resources meant to “evolve your consciousness”. From yoga sequences, meditations, and Eastern spirituality to documentaries and films on alternative realities, crop circles and spiritual alchemy, Gaia has a wealth of content to satisfy those who are seeking it.
Urban Movie Channel
Genre: African-American Culture & Entertainment
Cost: $4.99/month, $49.99/year
Audience: This streaming service, created by the founder of BET, offers a selection of exclusive black film and TV shows. You can browse feature films, documentaries, original series, stand-up comedy, and other exclusive content curated for African American and urban audiences. Current hits include “Love & Basketball,” “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” and “Jacqueline and Jilly.”
Cost: $8.99/month, $99.99/year
Audience: The theater is calling! But sometimes the theater’s call is long distance and way too expensive. Get your Broadway fix for less through BroadwayHD. You can stream an array of shows from over the years on your device anytime. Available shows include “Kinky Boots,” “Miss Saigon: 25th Anniversary Performance” and “Gypsy” (both 2015 and 1993).
Genre: LGBTQ Culture & Entertainment
Audience: While some areas have a thriving gay community and access to LGBTQ content through IRL shows, some may not. Dekkoo is a dedicated platform for gay entertainment. On Dekkoo you’ll have access to movies, shows and originals across a variety of genres and topics such as documentaries, drag, bisexuality, civil rights and more.
Cost: $2.99/month, $19.99/year
Audience: If Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon are just not giving you enough documentaries, CuriosityStream is for you. Created by the founder of the Discovery Channel, this platform provides a “journey through our world and beyond” with over 2,400 features and series. With a free trial, give it a go. Please start with “The Rise and Fall of T-Rex” because...dinosaurs.
Audience: Mubi is your go-to for exclusive releases, festival gems, and award-winning classics. It’s similar to a Netflix or HBO--but far more curated and selective. Each day they feature a film that you can view “live” and stays on the site for 30 days. Which means you always have 30 incredible movies at your disposal, instead of scrolling through suggested content spit out by Netflix and Hulu. Films fall into the independent, cult and classic segments from creators around the world.
Genre: British Programming
Cost: $6.99/month, $69.99/year
Audience: Calling all “Doctor Who” fans, BritBox gives you access to the first seven doctors, plus a bunch of colourful extras about the programme. There is also plenty of content about the Queen and her family. Either way, you can access more British telly besides The Crown and “Doctor Who”.
On Demand Korea
Genre: Korean Programming
Cost: Free, Plus is $6.99/month or $69.99/year, Premium is $10.99/month or $109.99/year
Audience: On Demand Korea is the go-to destination for Korean content--including news, TV shows, movies, K-pop and more. If you’re dabbling in Korean shows, they provide English (or Korean) subtitles on full HD videos. In a cool perk, content is made available on the platform within one hour of appearing on air in Korea.
[If you’re looking for more Asian-focused programming check out Viki. They offer Chinese, Tiawanese, Japanese, and Korean shows with subtitles.]
Genre: Spanish Programming
Audience: This streaming platform serves Spanish-language entertainment from a variety of genres. Unique search filters include browsing by country or era, which is a great feature for when you want to try to source that old flick your abuela used to watch on repeat but can’t remember the name.
Audience: If you’re tired of Slumdog Millionaire being the only “Bollywood” film available on main-stream services, this is the streaming service for you. A one stop shop for Bollywood, it has programming in a variety of languages within and near India. Original productions include “Metro Park” and “Flip” and popular content at the moment is “Date Gone Wrong” and “My Name is Sheela.” As a nice bonus, you can also access music and music videos.
Cost: $10.99/month, $99.99/year
Audience: Pureflix streams wholesome family-friendly, Christian-focused original shows, movies, TV shows, documentaries, and more. It includes content for all ages, from kids’ animation to inspirational movies like “God’s Not Dead” and “Woodlawn”--and you can access it on a variety of devices. They even feature “Hillsong - Let Hope Rise,” a documentary about the rise and popularization of Hillsong UNITED.
If you’re shy about committing to streaming services, most offer trial periods, which is a great way to become familiar with the content and platform interface. Also, most streaming services don’t lock you in for extended periods of time, so you can pay monthly and cancel if you’re not a fan.