Published on June 22nd, 2020
A lot has changed in the world of television in the past ten years. A decade ago, if you wanted to get the best possible package for films and brand new television shows, you needed to have an expensive cable package.
Here we are in 2020, and everyone’s started cutting the cable. Cable television is no longer relevant, and will soon be going the way of the dodo.
Streaming is where all the real fun is happening, and streaming providers are currently engaged in an all-out war for supremacy.
This is a great time to be a television fan, because everyone wants your business, and everyone is prepared to drop their prices in order to get it.
Almost everybody already knows who the ‘big players’ in the streaming marketplace are. For a long time, Netflix sat unchallenged at the top of the tree as the ‘innovator’ of the genre.
To call them ‘innovators’ isn’t entirely true; the idea of streaming multiple entertainment products from a single portal across the internet actually (arguably) started with online slots websites.
Just as the prevalence and popularity of modern online slots with a no deposit bonus have put a dent in the prospects of land-based casinos, the emergence of streaming platforms has been devastating for traditional television viewing figures and commercial advertising rates.
That’s somewhat “by the by,” though. Netflix may have been at least partially inspired by online slots websites, but they’ve taken that ball and run with it so far that for a long time, they almost seemed out of reach.
In more recent years, two major players have stepped up and started to eat into Netflix’s share of the market.
The first big-time opponent for Netflix was Amazon Prime, which has an undeniably impressive range of films and original productions under its belt.
The real mover and shaker in the industry is Disney Plus, which took less than six months to reach a total of fifty million subscribers around the world and is still rising higher.
As of the time of writing, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus are the “big three” of the streaming world, and will likely stay that way no matter how hard CBS All Access and HBO Max work to try to close the gap.
Are we missing out by focusing on those three titanic brands, though? We’ve cast our eye around the streaming market and looked at some of the smaller companies, and here are three services that might also be worth your consideration if you’ve seen everything there is to see on the other platforms for now.
1. BFI Player
As a rough guess, we think there’s a 25% chance you’ve heard of BFI Player if you live in the United Kingdom, and less than a 5% chance you’ve heard of it if you live anywhere else in the world.
That’s because the “BFI” in “BFI Player” stands for British Film Institute, and the institute’s streaming service contains almost every project that the organization has been involved in creating over its many decades of existence.
This is a rich tape library, and one that’s likely to appeal to you if you have a taste for the classics.
Not everything about BFI Player is backward-facing. Aside from the archives, the service also attempts to bring you the best new films from around the world, with an emphasis on arthouse productions.
Noted film critic Mark Kermode is on hand to provide you with recommendations (here’s a pre-compiled list of fifty films he’s already put together to get you started), and if you’re a fan of Japanese cinema you’re in for a treat; you probably won’t find a better collection of films from Japan anywhere else on the internet.
At less than five dollars per month, it’s excellent value for money, but the lack of an app can be a little frustrating unless you can ‘cast’ from the website to your television.
You can think of Mubi as being similar in focus to BFI Player, but without the British emphasis.
This is another streaming platform with a strong international flavor, and also a focus on older films, but it roams the globe in search of compelling entertainment.
It’s ten dollars per month, and your ten dollars gains you entry into a candy land of films you might get lost in.
Were not joking about the ‘getting lost’ aspect; the navigation system of Mubi is a nightmare to work with, and we think that’s been done on purpose to force you to look at films you might not otherwise consider.
The back catalog of films on Mubi is enormous, and while you might not have heard of many of them, that doesn’t mean that your new favorite movie might not be in there somewhere.
Don’t let the subtitles put you off. We all know how good “Parasite” was. If that didn’t wake us all up to the idea that foreign films are deserving of our attention, nothing will. Not everything on Mubi is great, but greatness does exist here.
3. Now TV
Now TV, if you’re able to access it in your country, might represent the best ‘middle option’ of all the streaming platforms.
It’s owned by the enormous Sky TV company, and so it has access to Sky’s massive range of films and original television shows.
The highly adaptable subscription model means that you can almost pay what you want, depending on what you’d like to see.
You’ll pay more for the “Cinema Pass,” which includes films that have only just finished their run at movie theaters, but for around eight dollars a month, the standard pass includes every series of hit television shows like “Game of Thrones” and “The Sopranos.”
Unlike the other platforms we’ve looked at (and Netflix, for that matter), Now TV also includes a tier for live sport – mainly European sports – although this, too, comes at an additional cost.
Rather than seeing Now TV as a regular streaming platform, it might be more helpful to think of it as a TV channel you build yourself, taking pieces from elsewhere and combining them together to give you a range of options that reflect your tastes.
It can get a little expensive once you’ve added more than two or three passes together, though.
Would we say any of these three platforms are superior to the “big three?” Probably not, unless you’re a huge sports fan and you can’t live without the content that Now TV offers to you as a subscriber.
We want this to serve as a reminder, though – just because the big three control so much of the marketplace doesn’t mean that you don’t have options. Why not give them a try if you can’t find anything to watch on your usual service?