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Streaming is finally mainstream. With subscriptions to the Big Four services — Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and YouTube — you can effectively save a ton of money by cutting out cable Considering Canceling Cable? The True Cost of Cutting the Cord Considering Canceling Cable? The True Cost of Cutting the Cord When you add everything up, do you really save money by cutting the cord? We do the math involved with cancelling cable in favor of Internet services. Read More and avoiding the unnecessary complexities of cable packages The One Reason You Need to Cancel Your Cable TV The One Reason You Need to Cancel Your Cable TV Cord-cutting is an over-reported phenomenon. The bigger trend is the cord-nevers, who have never and will never get cable TV. Why? For the simple reason that cable TV sucks. Read More . This is the future.

And, honestly, the Big Four are fantastic. Not only are their libraries massive, but Netflix is producing many originals 13 New Netflix Originals You'll Be Watching in 2016 13 New Netflix Originals You'll Be Watching in 2016 Netflix has released a lot of original content -- including House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, Narcos, and Master of None -- but 2016 is slated to be Netflix's most exciting year yet. Read More , Amazon has lots of exclusive content 10+ TV Shows That Make Amazon Prime Worth the Money 10+ TV Shows That Make Amazon Prime Worth the Money Netflix is undoubtedly the king of the movie and TV show streaming services. However, Amazon Prime has some fantastic television shows that make it worth the asking price. Read More , and YouTube is treading all kinds of new ground We Watched Scare PewDiePie So You Don't Have To We Watched Scare PewDiePie So You Don't Have To Are these YouTube Red Originals worth the price tag? We watched the first batch so, well, you don't have to. Here's what we thought... Read More . There’s a reason why they’re all sitting at the top of the ladder.

But these mainstream services tend to carry mainstream content. What can you do if you want to watch something a little less conventional, and a little more specialized? In that case, you’re better off checking out these alternative streaming services packed full of niche content.

1. Fandor

Critics watch movies differently than non-critics, which is why critically-acclaimed films tend to get lower ratings from everyday moviegoers, and why record-breaking blockbusters tend to draw ire and apathy from reviewers.

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Maybe your own tastes line up more with critics than us ordinary folk. If that’s the case, then you’ll really want to check out Fandor, which is a repository of hand-picked films that represent “great cinema”. Whether you’re in it for the classic, foreign, cult, or indie genres, Fandor has it.

You can also create and share movie lists, which is a great way to find new stuff to watch and take part in the passionate community.

It comes with a 14-day free trial. Subscribe for $10-per-month or get a discount at $90 per year. Supported devices include the Web, Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, Android, iOS, and Kindle.

2. MUBI

MUBI is kind of like Fandor but with a twist. It also focuses on hand-picked “great cinema” across the classic, indie, and cult genres, but its library is always rotating.

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Every day, the folks at MUBI add a new film that you can stream, but it’ll only be available for 30 days. This means that the library always contains 30 films — no more, no less — so if you see something you want to watch, you better watch it soon before you lose the opportunity.

It comes with a 30-day free trial. Subscribe for $5-per-month to get access to the entire ever-changing library. Supported devices include the Web, Samsung Smart TVs, Android, and iOS.

3. Viki

As you might’ve guessed, Viki is a portmanteau of “video” and “wiki”, which highlights the community-based nature of this streaming site. In essence, the movies and TV shows on Viki have subtitles available in 200+ languages, all thanks to the hard work of volunteer users.

niche-streaming-viki

Since Viki is based out of Singapore, you can expect to find a lot of Asian (especially Korean) content, but you’ll also find a healthy amount of global content as well. Just don’t expect anything that’s too recent or mainstream.

You can watch for free with ads, at 480p, and no exclusive content. Subscribe for $5-per-month or get a discount at $50-per-year to clear ads and unlock 720p playback and exclusive content. Supported devices include the Web, Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, Samsung Smart TVs, Android, iOS, and Kindle.

4. Screambox

If you’re a horror fan, you’re probably disappointed by the horror selection on mainstream sites like Netflix and Amazon. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place you could go to find and watch scary films, whether they’re actually scary or just B-list titles?

Screambox is that place.

niche-streaming-screambox

At the very top level, Screambox movies are split into five categories: Killers, Supernatural, Monsters, Psychological, and Extreme. Within each category, you get more granularity similar to how Netflix categorizes its library. If you want it, you can find it.

It comes with a 14-day free trial. Subscribe for $4-per-month to get unlimited, commercial-free access to the entire library. Supported devices include the Web, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Xbox 360, and PlayStation.

5. Feeln

Feeln is the place to go if you’re in the mood for a feel-good movie. Whether you’re homesick, lovesick, or just having a bad day, the films at Feeln will surely leave you in a better mood by the time the credits roll. Unsurprisingly, the service is owned by Hallmark Cards.

niche-streaming-feeln

The library isn’t huge, but it isn’t tiny either. Browsing is somewhat clunky, but as long as you’re willing to comb through it category by category, you’ll be fine. The Hallmark Hall of Fame is a great place to start, and do note that Feeln has a few television series in addition to all of its films.

Subscribe for $4-per-month or get a discount at $24-per-year. Supported devices include the Web, Chromecast, Roku, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Samsung Smart TVs, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, and Xbox 360.

6. DramaFever

DramaFever is one of the best destinations for Korean content — both movies and TV shows — though over the past few years it has incorporated other content as well, including Spanish, British, Chinese, and Japanese media. Making it well worth it if you want to watch non-American fare.

niche-streaming-dramafever

The site’s interface isn’t perfect, but it does make it easy to find what might interest you. The user rating system also makes it easy to know whether a show or film will fit your tastes. Most shows have subtitles in English with occasional support for Spanish, Chinese, and more.

You can watch for free with ads. Subscribe for $5-per-month or get a discount at $50-per-year. Supported devices include the Web, Roku, Apple TV, Samsung Smart TVs, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android, iOS, Xbox 360, and PlayStation.

7. Spuul

If you’re a fan of Bollywood films, then you absolutely have to check out Spuul. Anyone in the world can watch Indian media here without paying a single cent — and with over 10,000 hours of content, Spuul is guaranteed to offer you a lot of worthwhile entertainment.

niche-streaming-spuul

You can watch for free with ads. Subscribe for $5-per-month or get a discount at $50-per-year. Or opt for pay-per-view at $2 for 72 hours of access. Supported devices include the Web, Chromecast, Android, and iOS.

8. Crunchyroll

Netflix has slowly added more anime to its library over the past year, but fans who want more than just mainstream pickings will have to look elsewhere. That’s where Crunchyroll really steps up and fills the gap. If you want to legally stream anime, this is the place to do it.

niche-streaming-crunchyroll

While anime is its primary focus, Crunchyroll also streams Asian dramas and serves manga translated to English. On top of all that, it’s a great source of anime/manga news and it even has a thriving forum community where you can discuss your favorite titles.

You can watch for free with ads. Subscribe for $7-per-month to get rid of ads and simulcast new episodes and chapters as soon as one hour after they air in Japan. Supported devices include the Web, Chromecast, Roku, Android, iOS, Xbox 360, and PlayStation.

9. Toon Goggles

If you have kids, you can always rely on Netflix’s “Just for Kids” section or turn to one of these kid-friendly video sites 10 Video Websites for Kids That Are Safe and Fun 10 Video Websites for Kids That Are Safe and Fun Read More , but if you had to pick only one service to use, then Toon Goggles might be your best option.

niche-streaming-toon-goggles

Toon Goggles is all about kid-friendly entertainment, mainly focusing on videos but also including games and apps. Videos are categorized into Boys, Girls, Action, Comedy, Preschool, and Educational sections (with additional sections for Boom Goggles, TG AE, and News).

You can watch for free with pre-screened ads. Subscribe for $3-per-month to disable ads and unlock subscriber-only content. Supported devices include the Web, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs, Android, iOS, and more.

10. Twitch

Most avid gamers already know about Twitch, but in case you don’t, you should be aware that this streaming service exists and it’s one of the most unique sites on the Web. In essence, Twitch is where you can watch gaming tournaments and other kinds of video game streaming 7 Twitch Streamers To Watch If eSports Aren't Your Thing 7 Twitch Streamers To Watch If eSports Aren't Your Thing If you don't like eSports and you've written off Twitch as "not for you," it's time to reconsider. These entertaining Twitch streamers aren't associated with eSports in any way. Read More .

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Why would you watch other people play games? It’s a common question, and the answer is that Twitch is more about player personalities than the actual gameplay itself. You watch for the community and the entertainment, something you can’t really get by playing yourself.

You can watch for free with ads. Subscribe to Twitch Turbo for $9-per-month to disable ads and get a special badge and access to special chat emoticons. Supported devices include the Web, Android, and iOS.

Which Services Do You Watch?

In terms of value, you really can’t go wrong with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Which Should You Choose? Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Which Should You Choose? It has been years since we've compared heavy-hitting streaming services, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. And with changes in pricing, content, quality, and interface, we thought it was time to revisit the topic. Read More . You get a lot of bang for our buck, especially with Amazon Prime, which comes with way too many benefits to count 6 Amazon Prime Benefits You Might Be Ignoring Right Now 6 Amazon Prime Benefits You Might Be Ignoring Right Now Scratch the surface. Amazon Prime has so many more benefits that people have forgotten about or simply don't realize exist. Read More , including the underrated Prime Music service Why You Should Give Amazon Prime Music a Second Chance Why You Should Give Amazon Prime Music a Second Chance There are several reasons why you might want to give Amazon Prime Music a second chance. It certainly deserves much more credit than it's currently getting. Read on to find out why. Read More . For niche stuff, the above services make for great alternatives.

However, please be aware that streaming has its downsides. For example, there are several reasons why you’d want to avoid Netflix 7 Reasons You Should Avoid Subscribing to Netflix 7 Reasons You Should Avoid Subscribing to Netflix Just as there are pitfalls to cutting the cord, there are downsides to Netflix you might consider to be deal-breakers. So before you sign up to Netflix, take a moment to consider these imperfections. Read More , including the fact that you can’t own streamed media The End of Ownership: Netflix, Spotify, and The Streaming Generation The End of Ownership: Netflix, Spotify, and The Streaming Generation Read More . So before you go ahead and cut the cable cord 7 Pitfalls of Cord-Cutting You Should Consider First 7 Pitfalls of Cord-Cutting You Should Consider First Before you cut the cord to save yourself some money, there are a few things you should be aware of. Read More , make sure you know what you’re getting into.

Do you subscribe to one of these niche streaming services? Or are you happy with the available mainstream options? Alternatively, do you avoid streaming services altogether? Please share your thoughts with us down in the comments!

  1. Pat O
    May 11, 2016 at 12:31 am

    Is there a reason noone is mentioning SLING?

    • Joel Lee
      May 13, 2016 at 11:52 pm

      Hey Pat! Good point on bringing up Sling. I didn't include it because 1) it's doesn't really serve a specific niche and 2) it doesn't really serve its own content, but rather aggregates a lot of different channels together. If I'm wrong on either of those, please let me know!

      But yes, Sling is a fantastic service and one worth checking out!

  2. Dave Taskis
    May 10, 2016 at 10:02 am

    I think DingIt.TV can give Twitch a run for its money.

    • Joel Lee
      May 13, 2016 at 11:53 pm

      Hmm, I've heard of Hitbox, Azubu, and even Beam, but never heard of DingIt. That's awesome! I'm going to check it out. Thanks Dave. :)

  3. Bozo
    May 10, 2016 at 2:49 am

    Netflix, Amazon, Warner Archives. More then I can watch....

    • Joel Lee
      May 13, 2016 at 11:53 pm

      Haha, I agree, Bozo. Three services is more than enough for me, too. (I have Netflix, Amazon, and HBO Go.)

  4. Mia
    May 10, 2016 at 2:11 am

    MHzChoice is fantastic. Tons of foreign TV series. All kinds of great shows from different countries like Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Italy (Inspector Montalbano!) and many more. Everything beautifully subtitled in English and none of the shows are available on any other US streaming service. Highly recommended. Also the Acorn add-on on my Amazon Prime video account was a well-spent 4.99/month

    • Joel Lee
      May 13, 2016 at 11:57 pm

      Never heard of that one, will give it a look. Thanks Mia! I love well-done foreign content so this is definitely certainly I'm interested in.

    • klu9
      May 15, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      As part of my reporting back on region availability of the various streaming services mentioned in the article & comments:

      MHz Choice:
      No availability info on home page. Had to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the home page and try the tiny Help link, then tried the FAQ and went right through it until the last section "Miscellaneous" and finally this info [Note: these two questions are the first and only time any country availability has been mentioned anywhere on the site]:

      "If I’m traveling [sic] abroad, can I watch MHz Choice while I’m out of the U.S.?
      No, MHz Choice is only available within the U.S.

      Is MHz Choice available in Canada?
      No, MHz Choice is only available within the U.S."

      So much for the huge "Watch from anywhere" plastered across their home page.

      Acorn:
      On their home page: "Available in the US and Canada."
      Holy moly! The only site I've seen in the entire article and comments that states up front where it's available, nice and clear right in the middle of their home page.

      I really wish it was available in my market but at least Acorn just tell me where it's available rather than forcing me to waste my time scouring every minor link or knowledge base entry on their site or to just guess and hope. Was that so hard, every other damned idiot streaming site that refuses to make their region availability clear? (I'll stop ranting now ;)

      • Joel Lee
        May 23, 2016 at 3:45 am

        Aw man, sorry to hear that. You're right, media sites should be more serious about showing regional availability up front! It sucks that it's such a pain most of the time. Thanks a lot for replying with your experience. Really appreciate it, klu9!

  5. Joy Crawford
    May 10, 2016 at 12:52 am

    Don't forget to mention Acorn which shows British dramas and mysteries for $4.99 per month Acorn offers discounts if you're already a Prime member.

    • Joel Lee
      May 13, 2016 at 11:56 pm

      Oh, I didn't know they had discounts for Prime users. That's cool! Will check it out. Thanks Joy. :)

  6. Teresa Hinson
    May 10, 2016 at 12:28 am

    I like Open Culture, SnagFilms and Kweli TV. Thanks for the listing.

    • Joel Lee
      May 13, 2016 at 11:55 pm

      You're welcome, Teresa. Thanks for those recommendations. I'll check them out!

    • klu9
      May 15, 2016 at 10:06 pm

      As part of my reporting back on region availability of the various streaming services mentioned in the article & comments:

      OpenCulture:
      Doesn't actually provide streaming videos, just links/lists from other providers, e.g. Youtube, Internet Archive. Some of those videos are region-restricted but OpenCulture seems to notify readers of that, e.g. http://www.openculture.com/2015/12/paramount-now-streaming-175-free-movies-online.html says the free Paramount movies on Youtube are USA-only. Most other films don't seem to be region-restricted.

      SnagFilms:
      No idea what their region availability is, but most content not available in Mexico, at least. Who knows about elsewhere?
      No info on home page. No Help or FAQ pages! The About page has no region availability info either. Logo/slogan at bottom of page: "SnagFilms Everywhere" but as various streaming sites have shown, "anywhere" and "everywhere" is usually a marketing buzzword totally irrelevant to *where* you can watch it, i.e. place; they really mean what *devices* you can watch it on (tablet, phone, console, set-top box etc). I gave up looking for availability info and just tried playing videos. Most things I tried end up saying "This film is not playable in your area." But a few things do play.

      You might be better off going to their Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/snagfilms/ and searching for things with "full [movie/documentary] | Snagfilms" at the end of the title, as they seem available without region restriction. Anything that only has a trailer (e.g. "*Watch* full movie...") is probably region-restricted. On the SnagFilms site itself, you won't find out there's a problem until you try playing it. Frustrating and time-consuming.

      Kweli TV:
      No info on home page but near the top of their FAQ https://kweli.tv/#/footer/5 , it says: "in the US and abroad". However it uses the future ("will be", "will offer") so no idea if it *is* (present tense) available in the US "and abroad". No idea what's included in this "abroad".

    • Martin Ekert
      May 21, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      At last!... Another Snag fan ?.
      Snag is a great service with all sorts of genres of TV series' & Movies.
      It's all free to view, but has ads shown while you're viewing content.

  7. RocketKeith
    May 10, 2016 at 12:01 am

    I live vicariously thru TCM, n. Movies channels. I love cinema. Tx for the article. Would like more access to foreign content.

    • Joel Lee
      May 13, 2016 at 11:55 pm

      Glad it was helpful, Keith! Hopefully we can do another roundup of more foreign content as more services are launched and/or discovered. :)

  8. Linda
    May 2, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    Acorn TV, available over Roku is $4.99 a month and has lots of great BBC and other British TV. And there are tons of other channels available on Roku for free.

    • Joel Lee
      May 13, 2016 at 11:54 pm

      Thanks for the mention, Linda! I don't have a Roku myself but that's good to know.

  9. Tommy Jones
    April 29, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Toon Goggles can be watched free with ads anywhere in the world.

    • Joel Lee
      April 29, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Yes it can! Thanks Tommy.

  10. Richard
    April 28, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Not a very good review in that it fails to explain viewing options like if they are browser based, available on a set top box like Roku, offer casting, what regions they work with, etc. Frankly, it lacked all of the technical specs and hard information for anyone to make an informed choice on using any of these services.

    • Richard
      April 28, 2016 at 6:34 pm

      Redacted... I was not reading carefully. Apologies.

      • Joel Lee
        April 29, 2016 at 8:47 pm

        Thanks Richard. Hope the info was helpful! :)

  11. klu9
    April 28, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    It would be great to know about region restrictions / geoblocking (which streaming media sites are notorious for), if any, for these sites.
    Not just in the article but on the sites themselves: I've spent 10 minutes looking all over Fandor (even reading its terms & conditions) and I still don't know if they'll actually serve me content in my location (Mexico). If they do, great. But I don't want to have to go through all the sign-up just to find out that none (or very little) of the content is actually available in my region.
    Damn, I tried starting the sign up process anyway and got this: "Streaming Rights Restricted
    Unfortunately, due to licensing restrictions, we currently do not have rights to distribute films in your region. Films on Fandor can only be watched in regions where we have distribution rights."

    • klu9
      April 28, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      Mubi seems to be available in my region: it automatically changed currency and language (with no option to change to English) and user comments in both English and Spanish. Although I'm not sure if this 30-movies-for-30-days deal is really my cup of tea. Especially as search results are clogged with movies (and music videos) you *can't* actually watch.

      Screambox: Buried deep on their Help page: "Can I use Screambox outside of the U.S.?
      Currently, Screambox may only be accessed by users in the United States. We plan to launch Screambox in new countries as early as 2015 and we would love to hear from interested users that want Screambox." Who knows if their out-of-date info still applies in 2016? Just clicking on sign-up asks for my details without telling me if I'll actually be able to use it.

      Feeln: looked around, About, Help, Knowledge Base, Sign Up etc: still no idea if this will work in my region. And they don't have the only Hallmark production that interests me anyway (Farscape).

      DramaFever: it works! (For me.) Although I basically just had to pick a show and play it to find out. I do see this on their About page "Fans across the globe from New York City to Buenos Aires to Melbourne visit DramaFever every day for their daily fix of must-see entertainment." which does seem to indicate broad international availability, but there's no clear list or statement of exactly where it's available. Video quality: When I went to full screen, it was a bit jittery at first but smoothed out after a minute. Pretty high def.

      Viki: it works! (For me.) Again, I had to just pick a show. I even picked the same show as on DramaFever. Just watched the first couple of minutes on each site, but DF had better resolution and subtitles (IMHO). Also, Viki offered to load a site version with a domain registered in my country. But still no clear list of international availability.

      Crunchyroll: it works! (For me) Just looking around the site, it seems to available in my region; there's a microscopic Mexican flag at the bottom of the page by language options and when I go to the pricing page, they offer plans in my local currency. But I still can't find a clear list or statement of availability. Eventually I just picked a show and it played. Just watched a couple of minutes of a live-action show on the free option; the free video quality is supposedly less than 480p but it looked OK on my 1080p screen, a bit soft but not blocky or blurry. There was one advert before the opening credits and 3 right after the credits.

      Although some of these sites do work in my region, none of them really made it immediately clear if they would. And none of them give a clear list or statement of which countries they are available in, and if the content availability varies from country to country.

      • Joel Lee
        April 29, 2016 at 8:49 pm

        Yikes, regional info is definitely hard to come by. I wish content providers didn't have such archaic and arbitrary limitations on what can be streamed/viewed where.

        Thank you so much for recounting your experiences, klu9! I'm glad some of the services worked for you, though regretful that not all of them did. :(

  12. Jackass
    April 28, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Crackle is free.

    • Joel Lee
      April 29, 2016 at 8:46 pm

      Hmm, how do I browse Crackle? All I see are episodes of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. :(

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