Cable TV is no longer as ubiquitous as it once was in the United States. Consumer-friendly streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video allow users to watch programs at their convenience as opposed to at scheduled times — and at less cost than most cable packages. According to eMarketer, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the cord-cutting shift in the US. More than 6 million households canceled their cable packages in 2020, bringing the total number to 31.2 million. eMarketer anticipates that by 2024 one-third of all US households will exclusively use streaming platforms.
Cord-cutting isn’t only becoming more attractive for economic reasons. Recently launched platforms like Paramount+ and Peacock have complemented the wide range of films and TV series offered by Netflix and others. Also, there are several lesser-known streaming services that offer free-to-view programs or cater to individuals with particular tastes. Keep reading to find out about some you may not know about.
STARZ is one of several streaming platforms offered by cable networks with exclusive programming. Epix and Showtime also have their own direct-to-consumer services offering original films and series including Pennyworth, Billions, Shameless, and Ray Donovan. STARZ, meanwhile, is best known for Outlander, an original series that follows a 1940s-era English combat nurse who is transported back in time to 1743. It has been well received by critics and the general public with an average Tomatometer and average audience score of 89 percent and 90 percent, respectively, on Rotten Tomatoes.
Other original series on STARZ include Hightown, American Gods, and Vida. It also has streaming rights to classic series such as The Bernie Mac Show, The Jeffersons, Knight Rider, and Good Times. It doesn’t have as strong of a movie database as other platforms, but it still features some recent high-profile releases, including Zombieland: Double Tap and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. STARZ costs $8.99 per month.
Catering to fans of horror, Shudder is an AMC Networks-owned platform that offers hundreds of movies in the genre, including those by acclaimed horror directors such as George Romero and John Carpenter. It also has many lesser-known or obscure films that fans of the genre might enjoy. Users can scour the platform themselves or explore curated collections of films with categories such as Trapped, Human Monsters & Serial Killers, Urban Decay, Haunted Habitations, and Spectral Encounters.
Shudder also produces original content. One of its films, Tigers Are Not Afraid, was named the best horror film of 2019 by Thrillist. The service costs $5.99 per month or $56.99 for a one-year subscription. Interested users can also try out a seven-day free trial.
Warner Archive is an ideal streaming platform for film buffs and those interested in the progression of the medium. Offering more than 800 films produced by Warner Bros., the streaming service’s collection dates back to the 1920s and includes standout and more obscure films that only true cinephiles might appreciate. Select titles include Bombshell (1933), Wait Until Dark (1967), and The Left Handed Gun (1958). It also offers classic TV shows such as Eight Is Enough and Falcon Crest. It’s only available in the US and costs $9.99 per month.
Tubi TV is different from the aforementioned platforms in that it offers a range of free content, albeit with ads. Outside of its free content, part of its appeal is that it claims to offer thousands of films and TV series that can’t be found on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, or other subscription-based services. It even has a section called Not on Netflix. Select rotating titles include Gladiator, Overboard, and Eve’s Bayou. TV options are limited, as it doesn’t have partnerships with many major US networks, but there are several British series on the streaming platform. These include the original versions of Shameless and Queer as Folk.
Hoopla is another free streaming service, but it has an advantage over Tubi TV in that users aren’t required to watch ads. This is because the platform is funded via tax contributions to public libraries. Users do, however, need a library card to access Hoopla’s extensive catalog of films and TV series, which includes Miramax-produced classics such as Trainspotting, No Country for Old Men, and Good Will Hunting. It also has films curated in specialty categories such as Directed by Women and Based on a True Story. The one catch is that users are limited to eight titles per month.
Those looking to explore some of the best TV series outside of the US should look to MHz Choice. Available for $7.99 per month or $89.99 per year, the streaming platform offers a range of international comedy, mystery, and drama series, many of which were produced in European countries. All episodes feature English subtitles. It features older titles in addition to new releases such as Norwegian crime drama Twin and French mystery Les Secrets.