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Streaming Without a Paddle

Have you “cut the cord” yet?  Or are you just looking to move beyond Netflix, Hulu or amazon? You can widen your binge-worthy horizons with a smorgasbord of viewing options that have flown under the radar.

I cancelled cable last year.  After researching my options with YouTube TV, SlingTV, Netflix, amazon and Hulu, I chucked Charter and went rogue.  I was able to hobble together some similar replacement of service—though local network channels were not always available on those options, and DVR service did not always allow for skipping past the commercials.  When Charter offered some decent no-contract specials, I was back into cable and the ability to control everything with one complicated-looking remote.

Lots of offbeat options offer a cornucopia of riches for the film lover, from schlocky B-movie fare to international oddities.

YouTubeTV runs $35/mo and has a lot of the basic-cable options including AMC, FX, National Geographic, MSNBC and Fox News (I recommend flipping between them at a rapid pace, with the sound turned down, so that the constant barrage of surprised and outraged expressions are much more entertaining).   The tricky thing with YouTubeTV is that pesky “not all channels available in all areas” disclaimer; our local KTVI Channel 2 was not available, or played alternate content.  So be sure to check that your favorite local stations are available in your area.  Still, the service offers a great unlimited DVR option and works across pretty much any device.

Filmstruck is a meticulously curated site “for film lovers by film lovers” and is the exclusive home of the Criterion Collection—restored classics, foreign films, cult gems and more.  It’s film geek heaven and well worth the $10.99/mo or $99/yr, if you take your film studies seriously or want to broaden your horizons.

Fandor also boasts an eclectic curated list for film geeks, but skews more toward cult, short films, and some interesting oddities.  It’s not as expensive as Filmstruck, but doesn’t have those Criterion nuggets.  Still, it’s a great source for offbeat oddities and some films not available anywhere else.

Pluto TV is a free app available through the amazon Fire TV app store (as well as ios, Android, Google, Xbox and others), and I have to say I enjoy surfing through this site more than anything.  The available channels range from a mix of sports, news, pop culture, humor, and just plain weird.  I’m a huge fan of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and its spinoff, Rifftrax, and they each have a dedicated channel on Pluto.  The Onion’s TV channel is here, there are channels for geeky gamers, and there is a Gorilla channel—yes, 24/7 gorilla action.  Cat videos?  Yep, dedicated channel.  Lots of live music and eclectic music streaming.  Oddly, my favorite late-night Pluto channel is All Aboard: Cab Ride Norway, in which you travel endlessly on a train around the lush fields and fjords of Norway.  In all, there’s over one hundred channels for news junkies, foodies, stoners and pop culture geeks, as well as live news and sports options and a decent selection of movies.  The only downside to Pluto, being free, is the frequent commercial breaks—remember TV with commercials?  That, and the broadcast quality is not top-rate.

So start exploring the wide world of alternatives—but you might not be quite ready to cut that cable completely.

The Wayward Critic reviews movies, television and streaming entertainment with healthy doses of snark.  Follow @waywardcritic on Facebook to see the latest new reviews!

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