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Fantastic video-streaming services that are not named Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu

Everyone knows the big online services. TechHive’s resident film critic recommends checking out these lesser-known entertainment sources, some of which are absolutely free.

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Qello

Qello Qello

Qello features a wide array of concerts and music documentaries for streaming.

This one is highly recommended for music lovers. Qello offers no feature films or TV, only music documentaries and concerts. Offerings range from classics to more modern ones, in a wide array of genres, including alternative, classic rock, reggae, jazz, classical, opera, punk, and even disco. Shows include Imagine Dragons, Iron Maiden, Queen, Amy Winehouse, Michael Bublé, Nirvana Live at Reading, and Martin Scorsese’s documentaries on Bob Dylan and George Harrison. There are myriad ways to search, and users can create playlists of favorite songs. It’s $7.99 per month, or $69.99 annually (about $5.83 monthly), with a seven-day free trial period. Qello

Roku Channel

Roku Channel Roku

Roku Channel offers more free movies, TV shows, and news, with ads.

In 2017, Roku did something fairly obvious: the company added its own channel to its Roku service, which is available on Roku streaming boxes and sticks as well as Roku TVs. Similar to Crackle and TubiTV, Roku Channel offers a wide selection of movies and TV shows for free, for those who don’t mind watching ads. Currently featured titles include True Lies, The Right Stuff, Marie Antoinette, Crocodile Dundee, and Walker: Texas Ranger. It also offers ABC News, TMZ, Yahoo! News, Stadium, and a few other news channels. Certain titles expire each month and new ones arrive, so the selection keeps changing. Roku advertises the channel on your smart TV’s homepage, so it’s very easy to find and install. Roku Channel

Screambox

Screambox Screambox

Screambox is a low-priced service for the most hardcore horror hounds.

This horror-oriented streaming service attempts to compete with Shudder, offering its own exclusive content in the form of a partnership with Bloody Disgusting. The movies here are a bit of a step down, however; they’re more in the realm of gory “B” movies than anything with artistic merit, but many horror hounds will be pleased, and the price is right: $4.99 per month or an annual fee of $35.88 (working out to a low $2.99 per month). There’s a seven-day free trial period if you want to give it a shot. Screambox

Shout! Factory TV

Shout Factory TV Shout Factory TV

Shout! Factory TV is a unique free service with content for comic book and horror nerds.

This could be my favorite free streaming site—at least for folks who don’t mind ads. Shout! Factory specializes in releasing spruced-up, bonus features-rich Blu-rays of classic cult and horror films, and their free channel showcases some of this goofy stuff, like Galaxy of Terror, Slumber Party Massacre, and Red Sonja. There’s a selection of Mystery Science Theater 3000, RiffTrax, and Elvira titles; film commentary tracks; stand-up comedy specials; and some original video content aimed at ComicCon and horror fans. Best of all is the tongue-in-cheek VHS Vault, with more than a dozen cult movies shown the way they were seen back in the 1980s: on grungy video tape, with tracking lines, pan-and-scan pictures, and general fuzziness! Shout! Factory TV

Shudder

Shudder Shudder

Shudder is the ultimate horror streaming service with great original content.

For horror hounds only, Shudder has a selection of high-quality horror films and TV series, some well-known, some classic, many obscure. It has cheesy gore classics (Basket Case, Blood Feast), films by masters (Dario Argento, Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, et al), and acclaimed chillers (Let the Right One In, Pulse). The site is ad-free and has a seven-day free trial period; it’s $4.99 per month after a 14-day free trial, or $47.88 for a year.

No slapdash effort, Shudder is curated by Colin Geddes, who conjures up the Midnight Madness section at the Toronto International Film Festival. Shudder now has an intriguing collection of original content from the intense, bloody Revenge and the unsettling, accomplished Mandy to the shows like Black Lake and A Discovery of Witches. Drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs has even hosted Shudder movie marathons! Its most unique feature is a free “Shudder TV” feature, wherein films simply play 24 hours a day and fans can log on to catch whatever’s on. Shudder

SnagFilms

SnagFilms SnagFilms

SnagFilms is a free service with plenty of socially conscious documentaries.

A free service with ads, SnagFilms is a little out of the mainstream, but it offers a large number of documentaries. Categories include “science and environment,” “African films,” “LGBT,” “Sports,” “Bollywood,” “Health & Food,” “Politics,” and “Faith and Spirituality.” Their disparate selection probably won’t include much that you’re familiar with, but adventurous viewers—and anyone searching for a specific subject—will find a home here. Users can sign in with their Facebook or social media accounts, but the site requires a birthday check for its more mature content. Snagfilms

Sundance Now

Sundance Now Sundance Now

Sundance Now provides a fine selection of arthouse favorites.

Sundance Now offers a large selection of original content, though perhaps not the water-cooler stuff one might expect from Netflix. (Their latest, A Discovery of Witches, is being co-presented by Shudder.) The selection of movies, on the other hand, looks to be a very high-quality curation of indie titles, the kinds of things that might be discovered at the Sundance Film Festival, with a very high number of must-sees (and a respectable number of foreign films and documentaries mixed in with the American films). The service costs $6.99 per month, or $59.99 annually (which breaks down to $4.99 per month), with a seven-day free trial. Sundance Now

TopDocumentaryFilms

Top Documentary Films TopDocumentaryFilms

TopDocumentaryFilms is another free documentary channel for seekers of truth.

For hardcore documentary enthusiasts only, TopDocumentaryFilms doesn’t feature any Oscar winners or anything that might have caused a stir at the box office (there’s No Errol Morris or Michael Moore to be had). But it does have a few hundred free documentaries on all kinds of subjects, from shark attacks to sex to 9/11. The site is set up like a blog, with the newest docs featured first, though it’s easy to browse by subject. It’s powered by YouTube, so films are subject to YouTube-style ads, but it’s otherwise free. TopDocumentaryFilms

Tribeca Shortlist

Tribeca Shortlist Tribeca Shortlist

Tribeca Shortlist is curated by humans and features a strong selection of recommended movies.

Offering a trailer narrated by Alec Baldwin, this service boasts a rotating selection of high-quality movies curated by human beings. The selection ranges from classics to cult and horror films, lots of documentaries, and quite a few unsung gems. Foreign-language films are a bit underrepresented, and there are a few out-and-out duds (such as Bruce Willis’s The Prince). The service offers perhaps 200 feature films in all, with no TV series and no original or exclusive content. At $4.99 per month, it should provide good entertainment to movie lovers who like to venture slightly out of the mainstream. Tribeca Shortlist

TubiTV

TubTV TubiTV

TubiTV offers a large selection of free movies and TV, with ads.

Tubi offers an impressively large number of free TV and movies, mainly from Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Lionsgate. Viewers must sign up to view anything with “mature” content, but signup is free. Ads play every so often throughout the movie. The selection contains a lot of content you’ve never heard of, and some content you’ve heard of that’s not very good, but a few gems that are very much worth watching. (Paddington, the Dear White People film, and Sling Blade are worth checking out.) They even have a specific channel for “Not on Netflix” movies (True Grit, Hugo, Arbitrage, etc.). TubiTV

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