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 it all.
So, for the folks who have gone through our top Netflix hidden gems list, binged the best Netflix series, and even watched all of Tiger King, twice — 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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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Hulu pushed its sports offerings heavily over the past month, but the service is still strong even with major sports shutting down to stop the spread of COVID-19. Right now, it just got the 2020 Best Picture Academy Award winner Parasite, and it's also added a new original series Mrs. America, starring Cate Blanchett, Uzo Aduba and Tracey Ullman.
Other recent highlights include 2019's hilarious and under-appreciated Booksmart and the incredibly warped Sorry to Bother You.
And we haven't even gotten to Hulu's top original shows. The Handmaid's Tale adapted Margaret Atwood's Science-fiction novel to critical acclaim, the Zoe Kravitz-starring gender-swap of High Fidelity is a hoot and high school comedy PEN15 is as weird as it gets.
All in all, the only issues with Hulu are relatively excusable. At $5.99, we're not shocked the service has ads (though Peacock will one-up it with a free ad-supported offering coming soon). Oh, and those outside of the U.S. might need a VPN if they want to watch along, as it's geo-fenced.
HBO has more than you might remember, and it's even offering a lot for free at the moment. Right now, you can watch all of The Sopranos, The Wire, Succession, Veep, Six Feet Under, Silicon Valley, as well as some of HBO's popular documentaries (including The Case Against Adnan Sayed, McMillion$, and The Inventor: Out For Blood in Silicon Valley).
Oh, and HBO's also giving away movies right now too. Via HBO Now, you can pick from a surprisingly wide array of films from other studios, such as Crazy Stupid Love, Pokémon Detective Pikachu and The Bridges of Madison County.
So, yes, right now is a great time to finally binge watch all the HBO shows you have put off forever — but I would recommend you keep your subscription even after this limited-time deal is done. 2019's Watchmen series is amazing television, and the show of the year for many, thanks to a delightfully intricate story that took the Alan Moore universe in directions that felt both novel and true to the original tome.
Of course, at $14.99 per month, HBO's the most expensive service on this list, and its US-only limitation will keep some people out of HBO's garden, at least without a VPN.
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, but now's a solid time to test its 7-day trial to binge all of The Mandalorian and see what the recent Disney & Pixar film Onward is all about.
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. Oh, and Quibi just arrived packing mobile-only content — with a 90-day free trial.
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.