Science & Nature

25 of the Best Niche Streaming Services For Every Kind of Viewer

A TV screen filled with streaming service logos

Graphic: Lifehacker (Photos: Shutterstock, apps.apple.com, play.google.com

The pandemic turned us all into streaming video-addicted shut-ins, however if you happen to’re being sincere, weren’t you effectively in your approach already? Now that tens of millions of us have minimize cords with cable corporations, just about everybody subscribes to at least one streamer or one other, and certain multiple (or two, or three). But what if you wish to discover the cinematic universe past the confines of Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+?

Unsurprisingly—and reflecting the cable TV mannequin of outdated—there’s a area of interest streaming service on the market for mainly each type of viewer. Below, we’ve rounded up 25

of our favorites (and counting)

. Whether you’re a budding otaku or a hard-core cinema snob, there’s one thing right here price your month-to-month subscription payment (and some free choices as effectively). Let’s discover collectively.

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If you like basic cinema

If you like basic cinema

A screenshot of the Criterion Channel home page.

The Criterion Channel
From the daybreak of the Laserdisc period by way of immediately, The Criterion Collection has been thought-about the gold normal of movie labels amongst those that consider themselves as cinema buffs, however its streaming service—launched within the wake of the shutdown of Filmstruck in 2018—is perhaps even higher. Offering up a rotating month-to-month catalogue of classics from around the globe, to not point out a wholesome smattering of more moderen crucial darlings, it provides a film for each temper, and the excessive stage of curation—with films grouped into month-to-month themes or paired off in associated “double options”—makes exploration a delight (and makes up for the marginally byzantine approach its choices are sorted).
Cost: $10.99/month or $99.99/yr, 14-day free trial

The TCM hub on HBO Max
Yeah, you in all probability know all about HBO. But the points with the launch of HBO Max (which is, not less than, lastly out there on Roku and Amazon Fire Stick) obscured the truth that it’s among the finest companies round for movie-lovers—and for followers of basic cinema specifically. Max’s content material is sorted into numerous subsections, or “hubs,” and one in all them collects content material from Turner Classic Movies. While not almost as all-encompassing as The Criterion Channel’s choices, the TCM hub is greater than price exploring if you happen to dig films from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Content is sorted by decade and subject material, from “‘30s Comedies” to “’70s Blockbusters” to the Big Apple-centric “New York, New York.”
Cost: $14.99/month, 7-day free trial

If you like anime

Image for article titled 25 of the Best Niche Streaming Services For Every Kind of Viewer

Screenshot: Jordan Calhoun

RetroCrush
There’s a variety of anime on the market, and the place chances are you’ll look to CrunchyRoll and Funimation (which not too long ago merged into one mega-streamer) for what’s new and trending, you may wish to look elsewhere for the rarest titles from the golden age of anime. That’s the place RetroCrush is available in, a more moderen service that launched simply this yr as a spot to seek out forgotten gems and deep cuts. Given its angle of tremendous area of interest, classic anime, it comes with a narrower library however a excessive quantity of flicks and collection that you just simply gained’t discover wherever else. Paying subscribers get ad-free viewing of their library, plus unique (and euphemistically titled) age-gated content material. If you’re on the lookout for the wedding of area of interest and nostalgia, RetroCrush is perhaps simply what you want.
Cost: Free with adverts, or $4.99/month with out adverts

If you like horror

A screenshot of the Shudder homepage

Screenshot: Joel Cunningham

Shudder
This Netflix for the horror freak, owned by the AMC Network, is an absolute should in order for you the scariest scares and essentially the most blood-curdling shrieks streaming. The content material runs the gamut from standard franchises like Friday the thirteenth to bizarro cult entries to top quality originals just like the quarantine-themed Zoom-based chiller Host. If you’re on the lookout for actually basic films—older than 1960 or so—the pickings are slim, however there’s loads to select from in terms of the darkish facet of cinema from the ‘70s and ‘80s to immediately. The materials may very well be higher organized, however there are some curated collections in addition to TV and podcast choices.
Cost: $5.99/month or $56.99/yr, 7-day free trial

Screambox
Though not fairly as high-profile as Shudder, Screambox—which payments itself as having been “began by followers, for followers”—drips with authenticity. The major distinction is that you just aren’t liable to identify almost as many films you acknowledge on Screambox. Aside from a couple of stone-cold classics like Audition, lots of the subgenre-spanning entries are of the B-movie selection—which isn’t essentially a foul factor in terms of horror.
Cost: $4.99/month, 7-day free trial

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If you like impartial movie

If you like impartial movie

A screenshot of the MUBI homepage

Screenshot: Joel Cunningham

MUBI
This extremely curated streamer is a cineast’s dream, and the reply to the “countless scroll” downside attributable to companies full of an excessive amount of content material. MUBI’s “hank-picked” assortment is proscribed to simply 30 titles, and it adjustments each single day, with one title coming into and one title leaving. [Correction: While the service was originally limited to 30 titles a month—and the “Now Showing” section still highlights 30 titles—MUBI now offers a much more expansive collection of previous selections in the “Library” section.] The unpredictable, restricted lineup creates an urge to look at, and the offbeat choices, from latest indies, to deep cuts from celebrated auteurs, to alternative imports, imply you’re at all times going to have the ability to discover one thing new to you.
Cost: $10.99/month or 98.55/yr, 7-day free trial

IndieFlix
Hey, waitaminute! IndieFlix additionally proclaims to supply one of the best hand-picked film lineup round. Well, it’s actually a worthy competitor: In addition to a seize bag of classics and Hollywood movies, the service provides 1000’s of way more obscure impartial and overseas movies, in addition to documentaries and TV collection. The quirky organizational system types them not by style however by broad classes like “Social Impact” (films with a message of social justice) and “Snack Watch” (that includes brief movies underneath half an hour). The web site additionally companions with movie festivals just like the 2020 Stony Brook Film Festival, permitting you to participate in unique screenings.
Cost: $69/yr (good), 7-day free trial

Music Box Direct
The official streaming service of Chicago’s famed artwork home theater the Music Box, this platform proclaims to “[bring] the artwork home to your own home.” It’s an amazing place to unearth obscure home and worldwide gems, together with documentaries and the occasional TV collection. Some titles even embrace “Deeper Dives,” or DVD-like bonus options.
Cost: $4.99/month or $49.99/yr, 7-day free trial

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If you might be in search of works from Black creators

If you might be in search of works from Black creators

Image for article titled 25 of the Best Niche Streaming Services For Every Kind of Viewer

Screenshot: Jordan Calhoun

Brown Sugar
Brown Sugar calls itself the “largest assortment of the baddest films” and comes with a library of Black-led movies for the nostalgic viewer. The most enjoyable you’ll have scrolling by way of Brown Sugar is perhaps discovering titles starring family title celebrities from earlier than their careers took off (just like the 2011 Kevin Hart car 35 & Ticking), or longtime celebrities like Method Man in movies you’ve by no means heard of, just like the 2015 sports activities comedy #Lucky Numbers. Expect loads of outdated films from Robin Givens and Jeremy Hines, and outdated Blaxploitation movies like Blacula. It’s positively one of the best place for older viewers to seek out celebrities who’re “blackfamous”—individuals who each Black particular person is aware of however are unknown to most non-Black folks.
Cost: $3.99/month, 7-day free trial

Urban Movie Channel
Started in 2014 by BET founder Robert L. Johnson, Urban Movie Channel options each films and ongoing TV collection that star Black expertise. It has its personal unique programming, just like the cleaning soap opera A House Divided and the docuseries Behind Her Faith, in addition to some exterior community applications like WE television’s Growing Up Hip Hop and OWN’s Black Love. New content material is added each week.
Cost: $4.99/month, 7-day free trial

kweliTV
Former journalist DeShuna Spencer launched kweliTV as a spot to focus on the work of Black thought leaders and filmmakers. Here you will discover every little thing from indie movies and net collection, to kids’s applications and dwell occasions. Meaning “reality” in Swahili, kweliTV goals to supply a more true illustration of the worldwide Black expertise than what’s typically most distinguished in popular culture. It touts that over 90% of their movies have been official choices at movie festivals, and greater than half of them are award-winning. Expect not solely Black American films, however works from folks throughout the African diaspora.
Cost: $5.99/month (60% of your subscription goes to assist the filmmakers featured on the service), 7-day free trial

If you will have bizarre style

Image for article titled 25 of the Best Niche Streaming Services For Every Kind of Viewer

Screenshot: Joel Cunningham

Kino Cult
This free, ad-supported service from boutique movie distribution label Kino Lorber launched Oct. 1 with apps for Roku, Apple TV, Google TV, and Amazon Fire TV, and appears destined to change into a haven for followers of eclectic basic and modern cinema. At launch, their completely free lineup contains a variety of crucial favorites and decidedly extra obscure fare, together with the latest Iranian artwork home horror flick A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, classic “Drive-In Favorites” like Astro Zombies and The Nude Vampire, and a complete bunch of obscure ‘70s and ‘80s horror. TO assist you zero in in your specific taste of bizarre, movies are neatly sorted by theme, from “Artsploitation” to roundups of movies from influential creators like Mario Bava. My private choose? The zany 2009 French stop-motion animated movie A Town Called Panic, through which a pair of toys named Cowboy and Indian attempt to discover the right birthday present for his or her buddy Horse.
Cost: $0

Night Flight
Sprung from the titular cult late-night TV Nineteen Eighties collection that aired on the then-nascent USA Network, Night Flight is the streaming equal of a back-alley curio store run by an introverted weirdo, and the form of factor the web was made for. It homes all types of bizarre video, from cult movies, to extraordinarily particular documentaries (The Sacred Triangle: Bowie, Iggy and Lou, 1971-1973), to fringe music movies and a hell of much more. The extremely curated lineup (which The AV Club likened to a popular culture fever dream) provides one thing for… effectively, not for everybody, and it’s positively not all for anybody, however that’s fairly nice.
Cost: $4.99/month or $39.99 yearly, 7-day free trial

Shout Factory TV
The title says TV, however this streaming offshoot from the beloved boutique DVD label contains a lot of films too. Of course, their crown jewel combines them each: This is the place you’ll discover streaming episodes of the legendary bad-movie mocking collection Mystery Science Theater 3000. But there are additionally a ton of nice films, most of which the corporate has additionally launched on DVD, from fantasy schlock like 1982’s Sorceress to my private favourite animated film of all time, The Last Unicorn.
Cost: $2.99/month, 7-day free trial

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If you simply wish to watch one thing free of charge

If you simply wish to watch one thing free of charge

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Screenshot: Jordan Calhoun

Crackle
Crackle is a revolving door of TV and film content material that gained’t value you a factor, however in fact meaning it must generate ad-based income, and its library is comparatively skinny in comparison with what you’ll get from paid companies. You may discover nice episodes of a present you’ve forgotten, however you additionally run the danger that the provision of mentioned might be restricted to a scant variety of episodes or seasons. Crackle provides some unique programming as effectively, just like the docuseries Going from Broke and the horror-comedy film Office Uprising. Given its ever-changing lineup, Crackle is greatest for sampling new exhibits or poking round for some forgotten leisure from the previous.
Cost: $0

Tubi
Tubi has a surprisingly massive library, contemplating it’s utterly free. You’ll run into adverts, in fact, however you additionally may discover loads of exhibits or films you wont’t discover elsewhere. (I, for one, owe an everlasting debt of gratitude for permitting me to rewatch Transformer’s Beast Wars not way back, which I couldn’t discover on any of my many paid streaming companies on the time.) Don’t count on a ton for brand new or trending titles, however the free again catalog makes Tubi one thing that may even be price paying for. You know, if it wasn’t free. (Its FAQs understandably characteristic the questions “Is Tubi actually free?” and “Is Tubi authorized?,” and fortuitously, it’s each.)
Cost: $0

Vudu
Vudu isn’t utterly free—there are many titles you possibly can pay for—however it’s price including to the record given the quantity of free titles out there. There are over 10,000 of them, and you’ll simply filter to seek out the free stuff, which incorporates loads of B-rate films, outdated sitcoms, and countless horror films (if you happen to’re searching for one thing random in October). Vudu is nice you probably have no concept what you wish to watch; poke round to find an obscure outdated film or random outdated collection to look at free of charge—and if you happen to see one thing newer that you just wish to purchase, it’s only a click on away.
Cost: $0 (kind of)

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If you’re a documentary buff

If you’re a documentary buff

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Screenshot: Kanopy

Curiosity Stream
If you want Discovery or History channel, Curiosity Stream is perhaps a streaming service for you. It’s a documentary-based streaming platform with nature and science-based applications, the place you possibly can anticipate finding titles like Age of Big Cats, Scanning the Pyramids, and History of Food. As its title suggests, this one’s for the intellectually curious viewer who’s within the untold histories and discoveries of our planet.
Cost: $11.99/yr, however may very well be free relying in your web provider

Documentary+
The nonfiction movie and tv studio XTR is launching their documentary streaming service Documentary+, and in order for you high quality dramatic nonfiction, this platform seems to be promising. The service could have options just like the Tribeca Film Festival brief Lazarus, about an albino musician from Malawi, and You Cannot Kill David Arquette, concerning the actor’s fairly extraordinary life. The official launch date has but to be introduced, however test the studio’s web site for updates.

Kanopy
Kanopy is a hub for genre-based documentaries. Like Hulu and Netflix, Kanopy separates their movies by class with a wide array of titles—classes that embrace historic views, artwork and artists, ethnicity and id, and extra. An excellent platform for indie and documentary buffs, you possibly can count on every little thing from indie collection to standard options like For the Love of Spock. The content material is chosen for its academic worth, and Kanopy is free for librarians and college students.
Cost: $0. Sign up together with your pupil ID or library membership

If you like actuality TV

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Screenshot: Hayu

Hayu
The streaming service NOWTV has customizable streaming programming with their assortment of “passes,” and Hayu is NowTVs actuality TV “cross,” providing U.S.-based actuality TV content material to the UK and throughout Europe. Although it focuses on offering American content material abroad, it’s nonetheless accessible by anybody within the U.S. on the lookout for a spot to get their actuality TV and not using a cable subscription. It focuses totally on actuality TV within the model of Real Housewives, Keeping up With the Kardashians, and Love and Hip Hop (you recognize, the fashionable stuff), so if you happen to love long-form actuality TV, you will discover it with Hayu.
Cost: £4.99 per thirty days, so slightly below $7

Sling
Sling just isn’t a devoted actuality TV streaming service, however it does have entry to a variety of applications within the actuality style. Sling companions with stations like TLC—recognized for its roster of actuality exhibits—and contains Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Toddlers in Tiaras, and Say Yes to the Dress. Its value is greater than another choices on this record, however you’re additionally getting over fifty different channels to select from.
Cost: $30/month, three-day free trial

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If you’re a comedy aficionado

If you’re a comedy aficionado

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Screenshot: Next Up

Next Up
Next Up is a UK-based streaming service catered to comedy. Its choices embrace “on demand,” the place you possibly can select from sketch, observational, character, various, and different comedy types, they usually even have dwell streams for tuning into stand-up comedy in real-time (as soon as comedy golf equipment reopen, that’s.) My favourite a part of this platform is that they cut up their income 50/50 with content material creators. Since it’s based mostly within the UK, chances are you’ll not see the common comedians you recognize from the states, however you’ll positively discover laughs.
Cost: €9.99 a month, so slightly below $11

Funny or Die
Funny or Die is one other that isn’t precisely a streaming service, however they embrace blogs, comedy information, and unique shorts by comedians and different celebrities. The web site means that you can seek for your favourite ones by title, utilizing the “celebrities” drop-down menu, the place you will discover anybody from Will Ferrell to Zach Galifinakis to Don Cheadle. Original content material on the positioning options hilarious sketches by up-and-coming creators as effectively, like Amanda Cerny’s How to be a Jerk. Many of the bizarre, humorous movies that your comedy-loving buddy has proven you may need began on Funny or Die, so if you wish to be on the brand new wave of on-line comedy content material, Funny or Die is a superb place.
Cost: $0

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If you’re on the lookout for dwell sports activities

If you’re on the lookout for dwell sports activities

Image for article titled 25 of the Best Niche Streaming Services For Every Kind of Viewer

Screenshot: Fubo TV

Fubo TV
If you’re lacking sports activities after reducing your cable subscription, Fubo TV provides over 100 channels of dwell and on-demand tv. If your leisure wants are excessive, the variety of channels for the worth makes FuboTV a contender for essentially the most bang in your buck. Unfortunately, although, you’d nonetheless have to pay further to look at any unique Hulu, Netflix, or Prime content material, so that you’ll wish to examine with cable and streaming prices to determine if paying for FuboTV is price it.
Cost: $80/month

This story was initially revealed in October 2020 and was up to date on Jan. 14, 2021 with extra streaming companies protecting actuality TV and sports activities. It was up to date once more on Oct. 4 so as to add Kino Cult.

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