October 7, 2016
Given the enormous video bandwagon everyone in media has hopped in 2016, its no wonder that a vast array of niche streaming services have popped up. It’s a time-honored way to build a business: Establish yourself well in a niche, and rely on that userbase while slowly adding value until you’re an unbeatable deal.
So how are all these niche streaming services doing? According to one Forbes analysis, not great:
“The percentage of respondents who subscribe to a paid subscription service for movies or TV shows outside of the market leaders is a mere 2.3%. This is down from the first quarter of this year when that percentage was 2.9%. In this fraction of the market are every niche streaming service.”
Some services, like the Australia-based Presto, are closing down as soon as January. Sure, Netflix is rapidly swallowing the market, but the tinier the niche — whether genre or nationality — the easier it is to compete.
While plenty of services go for a subscription-based revenue, like horror movie service Shudder or British TV service Acorn TV, others rely on ads. Which means they’re free to watch. Here are the best niche-based free streaming services.
Viki is based out of Singapore and features Asian film and TV, though they include content from around the world. The name refers to a “video wiki” style organization, and Viki allows users the option to contribute subtitles. It’s all free to watch, though a subscription is available for those who want to cut out the ads and get the HD version.
Sony’s ad-supported service is famous for Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” webseries, but it hosts its own full-length TV shows. I’d be remiss not to mention “Startup,” a drama featuring the startup world. It’s a lot sexier than the real thing.
The niche: Bollywood films. If you can’t get enough of them, you will here.
Crunchyroll is the king of niche streaming services. After cornering the market on anime, they’ve started expanding into more content. Still, if you’re a big anime fan, you can’t afford not to get a subscription. And like many of the services here, the free version gets you standard definition with ads. Also, there’s a forum and an anime news section.
Viddsee focuses on short films from Asian filmmakers, making it a fast way to explore themes and techniques that you may not be familiar with.
6: PBS Kids
But if you want familiar themes, check out the PBS Kids site to watch Arthur or Thomas the Tank Engine.
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