Remember having to deal with bad signals, repetitive commercials and waiting all week to watch your favorite show? The way we consume media has changed so drastically that it’s crazy to think we constantly faced these trivialities just a few years ago. In the last decade, OTT networks have become the way to watch things. OTT (“over the top”) services bypass the usual content distributors — cable, broadcast and satellite platforms — and use the internet. We know of the big ones: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+ and HBO Max. But there are thousands of amazing services out there! Here are three great OTT platforms you never knew existed: The Criterion Channel, Crunchyroll and Tubi.
1. The Criterion Channel
The Criterion Collection is a video distributor for “important classic and contemporary films.’ In April of 2019, they launched their own OTT, The Criterion Channel. It’s pretty much a cinephile’s dream come true. The service’s library includes over two thousand films from Criterion’s collection, with more being added regularly. Its content curation is cool, too; certain directors, film movements and genres are spotlighted weekly. It also shows video interviews with filmmakers, video essays and bonus features for many films. The service’s interface looks really sleek and is easy to use. What is special about this network is you can see the care they put into the content. If you’re a film student, fanatic or enthusiast, you’ll definitely get a lot out of this platform.
If you’re into anime, you’ve probably heard of Crunchyroll. This American streaming service boasts the largest collection of online anime in the whole world. And a lot of their content is free. Even still, Crunchyroll has over three million paid subscribers, as their premium version is cheap and offers access to pretty much any anime you can think of. In 2020, the service was acquired by Sony for $1 billion, and they recently started creating original content to add to their massive selection. Although they only focus on one specific type of content, they’re the absolute authority on it.
Did you ever think you’d be able to watch entire seasons of shows on-demand for free? With Tubi, you can. This Fox-owned streaming service has a library made up of hundreds of popular movies and shows, all for free. Although you’ll have to sit through ads, five commercials in the span of a free two-hour movie is kind of a great deal. It’s similar to watching TV on cable or satellite, but it functions as an OTT because you can pick what to watch and pause whenever you want. Tubi is great for when you want to watch a movie or show without any monetary commitment. While it doesn’t have the trendiness or variety of networks like Netflix and Hulu, it thrives on its simplicity and ease of access.
OTTs have freed modern audiences of regional restrictions, broadcast schedules and missing an important scene because you spilled coffee on yourself. We now get to choose what we watch and when we watch it — when those decisions were left to the broadcaster in the past. Networks like The Criterion Channel, Crunchyroll and Tubi are proof of the versatility of the OTT platform system. So, what’s next?