When it comes to streaming video services, Netflix clearly looms large over its competitors, accounting for more than one-third of all peak-time downstream traffic, according to research firm Sandvine. Maybe that explains why you never hear anyone say they’re going to a friend’s house to “Hulu and chill.”

But that doesn’t mean there are no worthy streaming alternatives.

Here are a number of services for people with a taste for something different. Some offer free plans and access via computers, mobile devices, smart TVs, and streaming devices such as Apple TV and Roku. (You should also check our guide to all the major streaming services.)

It’s easy to give these alternative streaming services a try. Most offer free trials of two weeks to 30 days.

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Acorn.tv is one of the popular streaming sites.

If you like British TV fare, you should definitely check out Acorn TV. The service streams an assortment of mysteries (“Agatha Raisin”), dramas (“A Place to Call Home”), and comedies (“After Henry”). New exclusive programs this year include “Jack Irish,” starring Guy Pearce. 

For only $5 per month or $50 per year, Acorn TV is available on Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TVs that run tvOS, and Roku, plus certain Samsung smart TVs and Blu-ray players. You can also watch it on iPhones, iPads, and computers, ideally those using the Chrome browser, according to the site’s FAQ. For those with an Amazon Prime membership, Acorn can be ordered as part of Amazon’s streaming partners program.


A screenshot of the Crunchyroll website.

Devoted fans of anime and other Asian TV fare will love Crunchyroll. The free, ad-supported version features standard-definition streams. The $7-per-month plan, which is available on more devices, offers high-def video quality and ad-free access to popular Japanese shows such as “Naruto Shippuden” and “Sailor Moon” within minutes of their broadcasts. There’s also a $12-per-month plan with exclusive content, free shipping for scale figurines, costumes, and other items purchased in the Crunchyroll store, and VIP access to meet and greets at anime- and manga-related conventions.

Crunchyroll is available on Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku streaming boxes; Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox game consoles; Android and iOS mobile devices; and Windows phones.


A screenshot of the Fandor website..

Similar in concept to Mubi, Fandor offers films handpicked for hard-core movie buffs. Like Mubi, it also lets you create movie lists and share them with friends. But this service appeals to cineastes who prefer the sort of obscure film titles you’d be unlikely to find on Netflix, everything from silent classics to B-grade horror flicks. 

The service costs $6 a month, or $50 a year, ands it's available on a PC or a Mac computer; Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku streaming players; and some Android, iOS, and Kindle mobile devices.

Note: Fandor laid off all its staff in early December as it restructured in the hopes of a sale. Meanwhile, the site is still live and you can still sign up. A note on the website reads: "We have completed a transaction that allows a new entity to seek to continue the service under different management. This is a disappointing outcome for all who have contributed to and embraced our mission to date. We continue to hope that the prospect of reaching diverse audiences with great visual storytelling will inspire creators everywhere."


A screenshot of Mubi.com.

Mubi.com has morphed from an all-you-can-eat, independent-film version of Netflix to one of the best curated streaming sites for those who enjoy cult and classic films, too. Priced at $6 per month, the site always has at least 30 titles to choose from. And every day Mubi’s film experts add a new one, viewable for 30 days before it gets replaced. Think “Lost in Translation,” “Roman Holiday,” and a healthy smattering of current and classic foreign films.

Mubi is available in the U.S. on a PC or a Mac, an Android or Apple mobile device, Apple TV and Roku streaming players, PlayStation game consoles, and certain Samsung smart TVs.


A screenshot of Tubitv.com.

If “free” and “legal” are words you love to see together in a streaming movie service pitch, Tubi may be a revelation. The ad-supported service claims to have more than 40,000 titles, including selections from the libraries of Lionsgate, MGM, and Paramount Pictures, as well as Starz Digital. It also recently added some anime fare. Registration isn’t required, but if you do register, you get some perks, such as being able to resume play from where you left off and keep track of what you’ve watched.

Tubi is available on PC or Mac computers; Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku players; certain Samsung smart TVs; and many iOS and Android mobile devices.

A Few More Options

Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks shut down this service at the end of November. Visit the FAQ on the website if you have any questions about FilmStruck.

Started as a joint venture between Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection, FilmStruck delivered a rotation of classic, independent, and foreign films. 

In a letter to subscribers, the Criterion Collection said it will try and bring “our library and original content back to the digital space” as soon as possible.

Pluto TV
We think Pluto TV is one of the best free, ad-supported TV services, with access to more than 100 channels of news, sports, movies, TV shows, cartoons, and internet videos from about 75 content partners. One big difference about Pluto, though, is that its programming isn’t on demand, like Netflix. Instead you tune into a channel, like you do with regular TV.

Available on: Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku streaming players; Android TVs from Sony and Samsung and Vizio smart TVs; iOS and Android mobile devices; and computers.

If you’re a fan of things that go bump in the night, check out Shudder, a horror-film-focused service that costs $5 per month or $50 per year. On Shudder, you can browse by individual title (“An American Werewolf in London,” “Children of the Corn”) or theme-focused collection (Psychos and Madmen, Zombie Jamboree). From intelligent psychological thrillers to slasher-type gore fests, just about every horror genre is represented.

Available on: Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku streaming players, plus Android and iOS mobile devices, and computers.

Sony Crackle
Sony Crackle, a free, ad-supported service, is probably best known for “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Jerry Seinfeld has taken “Comedians” and jumped ship to Netflix, where new episodes will run, but the site has a ton of other content. Titles range from TV shows (“Community,” “Seinfeld”) to popular older movies (“Super Bad,” “50 First Dates”) to originals (“SuperMansion”).

Available on: Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku players; Android and iOS mobile devices; LG, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio smart TVs; and game consoles.

Spuul is basically a ticket to Bollywood films. It looks like an older free, ad-supported version is gone, but you can pay $5 per month (or $50 per year) for the premium plan that grants you unlimited access to all the content and the ability to download programs and movies to a phone or tablet.

Available on: Apple TV or Chromecast, and certain LG, Panasonic, and Samsung smart TVs.