Netflix is nothing short of a revolution in the entertainment industry. Not only did it facilitate the transition from schedule-based television consumption, but it also demonstrated the importance of creating original content, not just rebroadcasting old series. When Netflix came around we could finally start watching the movies and TV shows we wanted at any time.
It’s not a perfect service, however. To overcome of the shortcomings, we took a look at some of the best alternatives to Netflix available on the internet. With these suggestions in hand, you’ll be able to unlock all the free content you can handle.
Keep Your Streams Private or Unblock Geo-Location Bans
Even with services as reliable as Netflix, there’s always the chance someone is looking over your virtual shoulder. ISPs can monitor, log, and even sell your online activity. Government agencies can track downloads and which websites you visit. Hackers can even steal personal information and use it for identity theft. There’s no shortage of dangers on the world wide web, and the minute you dive into alternative streaming methods, you bump up the risk factor just a bit.
The good news is you can keep yourself safe by using a virtual private network. VPNs encrypt every packet of data that leaves your device, wrapping them in an unbreakable layer of code that prevents anyone from seeing what’s inside. ISPs can’t see what you’re streaming, hackers can’t discover your location. With a VPN you can stay hidden online while unlocking a host of added benefits, including watching videos from other regions.
ExpressVPN – Best VPN for Streaming
ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs around. The service kicks things off with a large network of nodes, covering over 140 different locations in 94 countries. These servers deliver lightning fast speeds no matter where you live, allowing you to log in and start streaming without lag or video stutter. Behind the scenes, 256-bit AES encryption, a zero-logging policy on all traffic, and both kill switch and DNS leak protection help keep your activity safe and sound. It’s the perfect VPN for anyone who wants simple, no-nonsense protection that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
- Unblocks American Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu
- Superfast servers (minimal speed loss)
- Torrenting allowed
- Strict no-logging policy
- Customer Service (24/7 Chat).
- Slightly pricier than competition.
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Types of Alternatives to Netflix
Netflix fills a lot of holes in our daily entertainment. It’s a media streaming service, it’s a purveyor of free movies, it’s a resource for binge watching TV series, and it’s a haven for new and original content. To find the best alternatives to Netflix, we’ll take a look at a few different types of media sources, each of which has its own drawbacks and advantages. Below we take a look at some of the main categories to see how well they perform in price, speed, movie availability, and platform support, all things Netflix is famously good at.
Kodi has been a popular and reliable piece of media software for over a decade. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and it provides all the tools you need to organize and stream an endless variety of content, everything from foreign films to blockbuster Hollywood releases. Like Netflix, Kodi works on just about every platform around, including smartphones and TV set boxes. The pack-in content gives you access to a surprising amount of free shows and films, but you won’t find any original content on the Kodi platform.
The downsides of Kodi are minimal but difficult to overcome. For starters, you have to install the software before you can use it, there’s no Kodi website you can visit that lets you stream anything. To get any of the good movie sources you also need to hunt down third party add-ons, a process that can be tedious, unreliable, and sometimes illegal. It’s a take it or leave it kind of structure, but if you’re willing to dive in, Kodi can be one of the best Netflix alternatives around.
BitTorrent makes sharing large files a breeze, including HD and 4K movies. Users download and share pieces of each file with the rest of the community, removing the need for centralized servers. This means torrents are always alive, always ready to deliver new content. They’re usually fast, almost always reliable, and generally pretty easy to find and use. You can’t stream torrents without specialized software, unfortunately, and there’s also the issue of questionable legality for some pieces of content. If you know your way around swarm sharing, though, BitTorrent and the right tracker is an excellent replacement for Netflix.
Paid Streaming Services
Ever heard of Hulu? Amazon Video? HBO GO? A lot of companies have started their own paid streaming services, a few of which directly compete with Netflix. The increased competition has led to better quality videos, more original programming, and bigger libraries of TV shows and films, all at reasonable monthly prices. Paid services are legal and usually pretty easy to use. They won’t always offer the same variety as other alternatives, but being able to turn on your TV and start a stream in seconds is extremely convenient.
TV On Demand
Services like Sling TV and Vudu have carved out a nice little niche for themselves in the streaming video market. Netflix goes for full series and movies, but these alternatives aim to replicate the TV viewing experience by offering live channels, access to broadcast networks, and paid cable network upgrades.
Alternatives to Netflix – Paid Streaming Services
When quality and ease of use are your main criteria, you can’t go wrong with a solid paid streaming service. Over the years these mainstream Netflix alternatives have competed with each other to provide the largest libraries and the best original programming. They’ve also copied some of Netflix’s design choices, making them the closest true alternatives around.
Amazon Prime Instant Video
Amazon launched its own video service back in 2006 with the express goal of cutting out a slice of the streaming pie. Instant Video combines movie rentals, episode purchasing, and free streaming content for Prime members, all tied directly to your Amazon account. The company later launched Amazon Originals to provide unique content in the form of TV specials and mini-series, another competitive elbow in Netflix’s side.
Amazon Video is probably the best overall alternative to Netflix, purely in terms of raw content, quality, and usability. The downside is availability. Instant Video is only out in a few countries, and just recently places like Canada and India. You also have to have a Prime account to use it, which isn’t expensive but also feels like an added surcharge. If you own a Google-centric device you’ll have a difficult time using Instant Video, as Amazon doesn’t offer the download directly from Google Play. Sideloading isn’t impossible, but it’s another barrier to entry that isn’t required for services like Netflix.
Overall, Amazon Prime Instant Video does a good job replacing Netflix. It has the most movies and TV series of any paid service, and the quality of content is surprisingly high.
Hulu is primarily aimed at TV show fans, though it does have a small selection of new and classic movies. The service is owned by several broadcasting networks in the U.S. and provides everything from back catalogues of content to new episodes as they air. Hulu also has a selection of unique original programming that’s largely on-par with Netflix’s offerings, making it an excellent competitor and a strong alternative to the video streaming giant.
The Hulu app works on a huge range of devices and it delivers high quality videos almost every time. The downside is the service’s regional availability. As of early 2018, Hulu is only available to users in the United States and Japan. And if you’re thinking about using a VPN to spoof an IP address in those areas, you’ll have to cross your fingers and hope the service hasn’t blocked your VPN.
All in all, Hulu makes some great content and is an excellent alternative to Netflix. Its limited availability is a huge strike against it, however. If you live in the U.S. or Japan it’s definitely worth your time.
Netflix Alternatives – Kodi Add-ons
Kodi can easily compete with just about any mainstream video service around. It’s fast, accessible, easy to use, and completely free. Its add-ons give users endless customization options without region locks or other frustrating barriers. If you’ve got the time to set things up and don’t mind a few awkward extensions, Kodi can replace Netflix, Hulu, and any other streaming service around.
An official Kodi add-on that delivers a unique variety of movies, TV shows, stand-up comedy, and more, all in high quality and all for free. Snagfilms aims to deliver an alternative style of content that doesn’t directly compete with Netflix or other mainstream services. Instead, you’ll find legal copies of foreign films, movie classics, and independent releases, most of which we guarantee you’ve never seen before.
For more information, or to download and try Snagfilms, check out our complete guide to Kodi’s free movie add-ons.
UK Turk, Bennu, Elysium
Diving into Kodi’s unofficial add-ons is like taking a swim in a pool of champagne. Just about everything you install is packed with content, everything from new TV shows to recent Hollywood hits, all in high quality, and all free. Any one of these add-ons would serve as the perfect alternative to Netflix. The main drawback, though, is stream availability. Add-ons work with any version of Kodi no matter what platform you install them on, but it’s never guaranteed the streams will actually work. Many add-ons disappear without warning, too, which makes them unreliable at best.
If you want to get started with the add-ons listed above, check out our guide Best Kodi Add-ons for TV Shows.
TV On Demand Alternatives to Netflix
Netflix provides something of an on-demand service for fans of TV shows. Instead of waiting for episodes to air or buying season DVDs, you can sit down, pick any episode, then start watching. It’s a classic setup for binge viewing, which is why a number of companies stepped up to provide streaming alternatives for Netflix.
Crackle (Sony Crackle) is a long-running video streaming service that emerged as one of the first true alternatives to Netflix. The platform is available in 21 different countries on a wide variety of devices and offers a decent selection of movies and TV shows, most of which come from studios owned by Sony. Crackle also produces original content, the most recognizable of which was Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
When compared to Netflix, Crackle stands up as a pretty good alternative. It’s also free in most countries, supported by streaming commercials instead of user subscriptions, making it easy to try out at your leisure.
Sling TV is a relatively young streaming service that takes aim at cable cordcutters. The tagline is “a la carte TV”, meaning you can pick channel line-ups you want to subscribe to and only pay for that content. No weird packages with channels you’ll never watch, just custom picked TV streams. There are a few original programs to watch and a handful of movies, but by and large Sling is all about replacing the old television experience with something more customizable. It’s also currently only available in the U.S., which is a huge limiting factor. You can often unlock Sling TV to use it in the UK, Canada, and abroad, however.
The Walmart-owned Vudu is a content delivery service centered around movies. Anyone can grab the app and browse Vudu’s huge variety of offerings, searching through new Hollywood releases, older films, and everything in-between. There’s also a selection of TV shows as well as series bundles you can buy. Most of the Vudu experience is centered around buying movies instead of watching free content, however. A rotating selection of no-charge films is always available to stream, but by and large if you want to watch something on Vudu, you have to pay.
More Netflix Alternatives
If the paid services and Kodi aren’t enough to scratch that entertainment itch, there are plenty of other alternatives floating around the internet.
The free movie-centric streaming service Popcorn Time has appeared and disappeared multiple times over the last few years. Each time a new copyright notice shuts it down, another domain appears and the streams continue uninterrupted. This has given Popcorn Time a huge following of loyal users, and it makes it a surprisingly useful resource as a Netflix alternative. We discussed the pros and cons of Popcorn Time in our feature guide: Best Alternatives to Popcorn Time.
Putlocker is unique in the online video streaming world in that it’s powered by users. The site works as an index to popular content sources from around the web, letting anyone stop by, browse for a movie or TV show they’re interested in, and start streaming. There are plenty of caveats to the Putlocker experience, including the fact that it’s blocked in a number of countries, including the UK. For more information about using Putlocker, check out our complete guide: Is Putlocker Legal? Safe to Use?
The controversial movie streaming site takes a few pages from the above services’ playbooks to create a fast, easy to use, and fully stocked online video repository anyone can use, no subscription or login required. With 123movies you can browse or search for films and start streaming right away. Plenty of new and classic Hollywood movies are on the service, and the quality is surprisingly good, too. The catch is 123movies changes site domains frequently and is of questionable legality in some areas. Make sure you’re using a good VPN if you try the service out, and don’t forget the ad blocker!
Netflix is a powerhouse in the online TV and movie streaming world. Its catalogue of content is practically unbeatable, as is the movie selection, app availability, and regional accessibility. Good alternatives to Netflix do exist, but no single service can completely replace it feature for feature. By using the suggestions above, though, you can keep a steady stream of great content pouring through your home devices, all day and all night.