With Netflix announcing in November, the price of its plans would be going up again ($1 a month on its basic plan, $3 on the standard and premium), you might be looking to stream elsewhere. Here is a look at some alternatives to the streaming giant.
Obviously, the biggest competitors to Netflix are still Amazon Prime Video and Bell Media’s Crave. While Netflix still has the most content, Prime and Crave feature a variety of shows and films. Like Netflix, Prime has developed a number of its own shows, including the award-winning The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and other critically acclaimed shows, such as Man in the High Castle and Homecoming.
Meanwhile Crave includes content from HBO, Showtime, STARZ and other U.S.-based streaming services not available in Canada, such as Hulu and Sony Crackle, some of which it brands Crave Originals. Crave is also the home of Letterkenny — the Trailer Park Boys-ish sitcom set in small-town Ontario that has some fans. Prime Video is available for $7.99 a month or $79 for the year and includes Prime shipping from Amazon.ca. Meanwhile, Crave has two subscription tiers — $9.99 for the basic subscription and $19.98 for Crave+Movies+HBO, which mirrors what’s available on Bell Media’s similarly named movie-on-demand channel.
Most of the Canadian TV networks allow streaming through their websites and apps. They allow you to stream multiple seasons of its own shows for free, and the most recent episodes of U.S. shows on its network — generally giving you access to the full season if you log in with your cable subscription. But some offer more. CBC Gem gives you access to films and exclusive series and lets you stream the 14 local CBC channels. There’s both a free ad-supported, and a $4.99/month premium version without ads.
Meanwhile, CTV recently launched a Throwback section that offers access to many dramas and sitcoms from the ’80s and ’90s, including Dawson’s Creek and Facts of Life — and shows you forgot existed, such as Early Edition, where a pre-Friday Night Lights Kyle Chandler tries to save people he knows are going to die because he gets the newspaper a day early. (This show ran for four seasons?!)
And for, um, NCIS fans(?), there’s CBS All Access which has a library of the current and past shows from the U.S. network for $5.99 a month.
For lovers of all things British, there are two services that will be of interest. Both Acorn and BritBox have a decent selection of U.K. content. There’s some overlap with each other and with Netflix. But Acorn tends to focus more on dramas and mysteries. Meanwhile BritBox, which is jointly owned by BBC and ITV, additionally features a lot of Britcoms, such as Yes, Minister and Blackadder and Red Dwarf. BritBox also has the classic Doctor Who and Torchwood, though not the Doctor Who reboot.
Acorn is only $4.99 a month while BritBox is $8.99 a month (or $89.99 for the year).
FOR YOUR ASIAN FIX
If you like Asian content, you’ll also want to check out Rakuten Viki, AsianCrush and Crunchyroll. All three of these services offer access to some content for free with ads but also have subscription options.
Viki is the best overall and offers a large selection of Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese television and films, but focusing on TV content, especially kdramas (Korean dramas). You could, for example, check out an Asian Gossip Girl-ish show, Heirs or you could watch Good Doctor, the Korean series on which the popular ABC show with Freddie Highmore is based on. Viki has three different tiers of membership ranging from $29.99 to $99.99 a year.
AsianCrush (US$4.99) is mostly film content from a variety of different regions, inside and outside the continent. It is especially good for fans of Japanese and Korean films and has a number of recognizable cult titles, such as Park Chan-Wook’s Vengeance Trilogy.
Meanwhile, Crunchyroll focuses primarily on Anime and has a premium subscription for $6.95 a month.
When it comes to the more artistic fare, you’ve probably heard of Sundance Now. Named after the Utah film festival, the $6.99-a-month (or $59.99 yearly) service has a large collection of indie art films and some international TV series.
But another service to check out is Kanopy as it’s completely free. the San Francisco-based streaming service has partnerships with public libraries giving customers access to stream titles from the libraries’ film collections. All you need to register is a library card. It’s not for binge-watching though, you are limited to eight streams per month. And a two-minute short film counts the same as three-hour epic. It’s a great source for world cinema, classic films and documentaries. There’s even a Janus Films Criterion Collection section, featuring works from such auteurs as Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa.
Of course, these are just a few services. There’s a slew of other niche options. Hayu ($5.99/month) offers reality shows, Shudder($4.99/month or $47.88 yearly) serves your horror needs and Fandor (US$5.99/month or US$49.99 a year) is a great source for cult movies, indie films and shorts.