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Netflix is a pretty big deal these days. It’s the dominant provider of on-demand entertainment for millions of people around the world. Unsurprisingly, Canada has taken quite a shine to Netflix’s vast library of movies and TV shows, hitting an estimated 6.7 million subscribers as of April 2018.
This success hasn’t gone uncontested, though. Eager to capitalize on the streaming boom, rival services like Crave, Amazon Prime Video and hayu have emerged to provide Canadians with plenty of choice for getting their streaming fix. Each of these services offers something a little different, distinguishing themselves from Netflix with unique content, extra features or cheaper pricing.
To help you decide whether any of these Netflix alternatives is right for you, we’ve broken down their core features below. We’ve also put together comprehensive guides for many of the services, which you can read by using the links in the relevant section below.
With a basic subscription you still get access to a variety of series from Showtime, classic HBO shows and more. The Starz add-on brings you even more binge-worthy content, which includes Letterkenney, Seinfeld, The Good Doctor, The Handmaid’s Tale, Billions, Love Island, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and Broad City.
While the library of blockbuster movies and big-name TV shows available through Amazon Prime Video in Canada could be better, the selection of original content more than makes up for it. With critical darlings like The Grand Tour, The Man in the High Castle and American Gods available exclusively through Amazon Prime Video, the affordable yearly buy-in is definitely worth it.
The streaming service offers content not only from Disney, but its subsidiaries as well. That includes Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars and National Geographic. Subscribers can also finally stream The Simpsons online in Canada.
The Apple TV+ platform is home to acclaimed series like The Morning Show, Amazing Stories, Servant and Defending Jacob. You can also watch Home After Dark, Little America, See and Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. The library is small but new titles are added regularly.
Top series include Survivor, SEAL Team and NCIS, as well as classic hits and exclusive original series like The Good Fight and Why Women Kill. You’ll also enjoy the likes of Evil, Blue Bloods, Elementary and Madam Secretary.
You can also watch news and shows, with memberships including 30 hours of Cloud DVR, so you can record the games you can’t catch live.
For just $5.99 a month, hayu cuts right to the chase by offering nothing more or less than thousands of hours of reality TV fast-tracked from the US.
For $7.49 a month, you can watch the best of British TV from the comfort of your own home. Compatible on a range of devices including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, iPhone and iPad, Android mobile and tablets, Chromecast, laptops, desktops and tablets via browser.
If you’re looking for access to unique content, Sundance Now may be the right streaming service for you. For $6.99 a month you can access hundreds of indie films, documentaries and TV shows via web, Android, iOS, Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast.
Users also get access to Shudder original productions, live streaming events, podcasts and Shudder TV.
iTunes provides a central location to download, not just music, but movies and TV shows too. There are thousands of movies and TV shows to choose from, so you can catch up on your favourite episodes at any time.
The highest streaming quality currently available is 4K Ultra HD. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video both support 4K streaming, though only for select titles – mostly original content rather than traditional Hollywood fare. To stream in 4K through Netflix, you’ll need to purchase the top-tier subscription options, while Amazon Prime Video offers 4K streaming by default with its standard subscription. Apple TV+ offers titles in 4K video quality as well. So does Disney+ on selected titles.
Just keep in mind that streaming in 4K can chew through quite a large chunk of data: On Netflix, an hour of 4K streaming uses up roughly 7GB.
A basic Netflix subscription will set you back $9.99 a month, but this only gets you the ability to stream to 1 device at a time and limits you to streaming in SD. A standard package costs $13.99, which gives you access to HD and 2 screens at the same time, while a premium plan buys you 4K quality and simultaneous streaming on 4 screens for $16.99 a month. Crave isn’t far behind Netflix, with a pricier subscription than some other streaming services, especially if you get the add-ons.
hayu, Acorn TV and Sundance Now have the clear price advantage on Netflix, charging just $5.99, $7.49 and $6.99 a month respectively. The catch here is that hayu only allows you to stream to one device at a time and both have a much smaller content library than Netflix. Your choice of viewing is also limited, as hayu has a library filled with only reality TV content and Acorn TV has a library stocked with British content. Sundance Now has a focus on indie films and documentaries, which is suited toward the viewer with eclectic taste. The same goes for Shudder, another niche streaming service.
Newer players like Apple TV+ cost less than Netflix, but you won’t get the same generous library. Disney+ comes with a large content catalogue and doesn’t break the bank. At the end of the day, it all depends on which type of content you like to watch.
Content is king in the streaming video space and Netflix has a sizeable lead on the competition in terms of the number of TV shows and movies it offers. That said, quality is always more important than quantity and there are plenty of top-notch titles available exclusively on Crave, Amazon Prime Video and Sundance Now.
Here’s a comparison of some of the top shows available on each service:
|Netflix||Stranger Things, Prison Break, Orange is the New Black, The Crown, Black Mirror, Master of None, 13 Reasons Why|
|Crave||Letterkenney, Seinfeld, The Good Doctor, The Handmaid’s Tale, Billions, Love Island, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Broad City|
|Apple TV+||The Morning Show, Defending Jacob, Home After Dark, Little America, Servant, See, Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet|
|CBS All Access||Survivor, NCIS, SEAL Team, The Good Fight, Evil, Why Women Kill, Blue Bloods, Elementary, Madam Secretary|
|hayu||The Real Housewives of Orange County, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, The Hills, Vanderpump Rules|
|Amazon Prime Video||Transparent, The Grand Tour, The Man in the High Castle, Mozart in the Jungle, American Gods, This is Us|
|Sundance Now||Gaza Surf Club, The Bureau, Travel Man, Boyhood, Laurence Anyways, Capote, Shoah, On The Road|
|Shudder||The Valley, Born to Kill, Creepshow, The Core, Blood Machines, Confessional, Daniel Isn’t Real, Bliss, The Room|
|iTunes||The Walking Dead, Better Call Saul, Pretty Little Liars, Downton Abbey, Revenge, State of Affairs, The Real Housewives|
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