Finding the best Netflix alternative is a must these days, now that we're streaming more movies and shows than ever before. While many folks love Netflix, which is arguably the king of streaming TV and movies, eventually we all hit that moment where it feels like we've seen all of the best Netflix movies.
So, for the folks who have gone through our top Netflix hidden gems list, binged the best Netflix series, memorized every game in Squid Game and unearthed every retro Stranger Thing there is — we have picked 7 great options for your next night of streaming. Not all are available internationally, but we've got something for everyone, including a free service that's got a lot for families — and most are available on the best streaming devices.
Our best Netflix alternatives are often services that would sit alongside Netflix — or maybe replace it for a month while you're waiting for Big Red to add more. For example, one of these services is dedicated to the horror genre, something that Netflix is arguably a bit short on. We've also got a pick for families who have run Netflix's selection dry.
Others will likely feed needs that Netflix helped create. If you've become engrossed with British TV after watching The Great British Baking Show, we've got a place for you to stream all the UK content you could ask for.
We love HBO Max more than any other streaming service, so it's no wonder that it's our top pick for the best Netflix alternative. The streaming arm of the HBO premium cable channel, HBO Max packs everything from HBO classics (Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Sex In The City) to modern HBO gems (The Rehearsal, The Last of Us, Succession).
The big news, though, is that HBO Max will be dropping the "HBO" from its name, and getting more content from Discovery Plus. At parent company Warner Bros. Discovery's upfront event, it was described as "the best of Discovery Plus" is coming to Max. The only downside is that you're going to need to pay more for 4K, as that's in the $20 per month Max Ultimate plan.
The one downside of HBO Max has been its recent loss of original shows such as Westworld (which is going to free streaming services that will drop ads in shows). One other sour note is that some of the best HBO shows are ending this year, so get ready to say goodbye to Barry and Succession. Check out our guide to the best HBO Max shows, and the best HBO Max movies to see what it's offering.
Check our our full HBO Max review.
If I want to find the best films, I never really think of Netflix. I go straight to the Criterion Collection, or at least the films from the DVD and Blu-ray series that I've collected over the years. But now that stores are closed, and online retailers are seeing delays, it's time we all got familiar with The Criterion Channel, the streaming destination for cinephiles everywhere.
A quick skim through the online collection shows Criterion has got everything from Agnieszka Holland's classic wartime drama Europa Europa to Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (plus multiple other Kurosawa classics). Plus, since Criterion's already been making DVDs and Blu-rays for years, most of these films come with the bonus footage and features, such as behind the scenes interviews, stuff you don't get on Netflix.
The Criterion Channel also groups movies by theme, so you can have a whole week or weekend's worth of content ready. Some collections are grouped by stars like Catherine Deneuve and Rita Hayworth, while there's even a collection of films scored by the iconic Quincy Jones. On a German Expressionism kick? The Criterion Channel has 10 films for just that itch, making it the best netflix alternative for movie nerds.
Our new on Netflix list shows how the service updates its library on a monthly basis, but voracious viewers need new films at a faster clip. That's where Mubi comes in, with its constantly evolving library, adding a new film every day.
And those movies are delightfully diverse, from Hal Hartley's excellent Auteur, to Ana Cristina Barragán's Ana. They've even got Richard Kelly's Southland Tales, an under-appreciated and quite bizarre end of the world movie that stars everyone from The Rock to Sarah Michelle Gellar to Justin Timberlake.
That list is just for right now, though. As the Mubi roster is always removing titles as it's gaining titles. In its Now Showing section, you'll get a list of the movies that are soon on their way out, but they're ranked in the order of what's disappearing in a month all the way down to what's leaving in the next few days.
If you're trying to watch acclaimed independent movies, educational, family-friendly content and classic films, you probably think you need to pay money. That's not the case, thanks to Kanopy, which has critically-adored films such as Eighth Grade, Amy, Moonlight and Chinatown — and all you need is a library card.
And in the Kanopy Kids section, they've got lots of classic programming that you won't mind your kid binge-watching, such as the Mo Willems' adorable pigeon and duckling cartoons, and lots of PBS specials, with familiar properties such as Sesame Street, Arthur and Daniel Tiger and Anne of Green Gables.
The only drawback, as you might have guessed, is that you need to have a library card to access Kanopy — and many public libraries have been shuttered to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
Netflix's horror selection is merely decent, and it's the kind of section that makes you wonder what else is out there. To sate your scary movie needs, check out Shudder. Available at $5.99 per month or $56.99 per year (for about 2.5 months free), Shudder offers a solid mix of the classics and modern projects — for a fraction of the standard Netflix package.
So, whether you want to dive deep in Jason Voorhees story (with Friday the 13th 1 through 8!), investigate Michael Myers life (Halloween, plus Halloween 4 and 5), or go with something a little more cinematic like The Exorcist or John Carpenter's The Fog, Shudder has you set. It's even got cult classics like Ichi the Killer and Red Christmas.
That being said, while Shudder will augment your horror habit, it can't replace everything else. Movie studios like to spread their libraries across multiple services.
Even with a recent price increase to $7.99 per month, the ad-supported Hulu's only $1 more than Netflix Basic with Ads, and it doesn't have any of the downsides of Netflix's ad supported tier — which doesn't have every show and movie, thanks to licensing deals.
And while Hulu doesn't offer the sheer volume of Netflix, it wins on quality. The service loves to offer well-executed novel adaptations, and its latest — Fleishman Is In Trouble — is a true winner.
But, most importantly, Hulu provides cord-cutters with next-day airings of cable and broadcast TV shows, and at a much cheaper price than any live TV service. Recent favorites of ours you can watch on Hulu include Abbott Elementary, Reservation Dogs, Extraordinary and Reboot.
Many folks, my parents included, cannot get enough British TV and cinema, as the American media market doesn't really have a great set — which is why my folks, and many others, subscribe to Acorn TV. Yes, Netflix has Sherlock, The IT Crowd and The Great British Baking Show, but that's just enough to get a taste and start an addiction to content from the UK.
A strong mix of originals and licensed content alike, Acorn TV aims to provide a complete diet of content from just the UK scene. That means it's also providing both the thrilling and calming ends of the spectrum, for both of the major audience appetites. From Doc Martin's return in the true crime Acorn Original Manhunt to more relaxing series such as Coastal Railways with Julie Walters and Hidden Britain by Drone. Though, seriously, crime drama obsessives will probably love Acorn TV, as that's a large part of its vault.
But because this is catering to those who don't have enough UK programming on their own TVs, it's not available outside of the US and Canada.
Other Netflix alternatives to check out
While those services should provide enough content for your next months, you might still want more. Of course, you've probably heard about Disney Plus by now, especially if you've got kids.
Finally, I'll just admit that I often fall into YouTube binge-watching when I could be watching movies or TV shows, though I know I should probably give the indie-focused Vimeo a spin. Just remember our 6 tips for streaming TV without going broke, which start with using reminders to make sure you know when you're about to get billed.