PRO TIP: If you can’t be bothered to read 1,000’s of words right now, you can watch the video a few paragraphs below or listen to the podcast episode right here. 🙂
So, you’re finally done with Netflix, eh?
I mean, why else would you be looking for some healthy streaming alternatives?
I don’t mean to be rude but…
What took you so long?
OK, OK. That’s not fair of me. It took me some time as well to come around to the idea of ditching Netflix, and nearly all TV in general.
And over the past few years, I have indeed discovered some fantastic alternatives. Streaming services that make me healthier, smarter and happier.
If you want to know what they are, just take a few more swipes down. It’s easy. 👇
But, if you choose to do that, just know that you’ll be missing out on a pretty interesting backstory.
Over 3 years ago, I wrote a blog post detailing why I decided to cancel my Netflix account forever. It got some decent traffic initially, and continued to perform well in Google for a surprising amount of keywords.
Then it slowly started to lose steam, bottoming out at an average of about 20 hits per day.
“Fair enough,” I said to myself, “there are a lot more people who love Netflix than hate it.”
But then something crazy happened.
A massive global pandemic arrived on the scene and reshaped our society, locking everyone indoors for weeks. Everyone scrambled to come up with their best quarantine routine.
As a result, people suddenly found themselves with a ton of free time on their hands. And what do most people default to when they have free time?
And so, as I waited on hold with my 5th airline in one day, trying unsuccessfully to get a refund for one of my many canceled flights for my now-canceled 3-month trip to Europe, I received my monthly email from Google Search Console.
It’s a summary of how my website visitors found me through Google, and the keywords they used to do so.
But this summary stood out from all previous ones…
Huh. How about that.
Naturally, I was curious. I booted up my Google Analytics page to look at my traffic for this specific post over the past 90 days.
And this is what I found:
From 20 visits/day to 200+ visits/day!
And the dates almost exactly correlate to the beginning of most countries’ lockdowns.
In other words, as people watched more and more Netflix, they started to become aware of just how little value it was adding to their lives.
The “cancel Netflix” train was chugging ahead full steam. 🚂
As the post continues to grow, I thought it would be a good idea to write an update post.
I initially cut out all TV in general. Over time, I slowly discovered a handful of genuinely useful streaming services.
These are my choices for healthy streaming alternatives to Netflix. In order of most importance to me.
6 Legitimately Healthy Netflix Alternatives
My criteria for what’s considered a “healthy streaming service” is very simple. They’re streaming services that:
- are educational
- promote good habits
- don’t contain graphic content
- improve my mood
- require a paid subscription
- are not Netflix (or one of a gazillion Netflix clones)
The Great Courses Plus
The Great Courses is a teaching company that has been around for decades. They produce college-level audio and visual courses.
Prior to the rise of binge-from-home streaming services, The Great Courses were available via DVD for a one-time fee of around $60. Per course.
You’ve likely sifted through a couple in your local library over the years.
Coming to terms with their new reality, and recognizing that this is no longer a viable pricing model, The Great Courses launched their own online streaming service in 2016.
Dubbed as the “Netflix of learning“, The Great Courses Plus offers nearly half of their content for a modest monthly fee of $19 USD.
Considering there are about 300 courses to choose from, at about 20-30 lectures per course, you’re getting an immensely fantastic bang for your buck. (If you’re a numbers fan, it’s a $6,000 value!)
I love The Great Courses Plus.
There’s a reason why I’ve listed it as my #1 favorite streaming service.
I’ve only had it for 3 months, and already I’ve binged through courses about the Roman Empire, the Celtic World, and Beer. (as you can see from my screenshot 🍺)
And again, just to be clear, these are not your quick-cash-grab online courses produced by your local Joe Schmoe in his mom’s basement.
They’re a series of lectures taught by university professors with high production value.
Some courses are definitely better than others. You’ll find that you’ll naturally gravitate towards the teaching style of some professors, and be turned off by others. That’s normal.
If you’re someone who requires a bit more structure with their learning strategy, you can even follow one of their Learning Paths to really master a particular subject.
Overall, it’s a great learning experience with immense value.
My only regret is that I didn’t discover this earlier…
How much does The Great Courses Plus cost?
$19.99/month, or $10/month when paid quarterly. (I paid $30 for 3 months)
Is there a free trial for The Great Courses Plus?
Yes. There is a 14-day free trial with all plans.
Available Streaming Platforms for The Great Courses Plus:
You can stream The Great Courses Plus via your online browser, iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon FireTV, Apple TV, and Kindle Fire.Try The Great Courses Plus
Magellan TV describes their documentary streaming service as “Television Worth Watching“.
It offers a deep collection of high quality documentaries from a wide variety of producers.
Launched by Alliant Content LLC (super-cool website btw), it aims to be a streaming service that:
“Exemplifies the great traditions of documentary filmmaking: the quest to capture unique imagery, venture into the unknown, and tell compelling stories based on the insights of historians, scientists, and explorers.”
Magellan TV offers over 1,500 documentaries to choose from, with new content being added every week.
I’ve found the quality of Magellan TV to be the highest among the documentary streaming services currently available.
I particularly love the wide selection of BBC documentaries that are available on the platform. (BBC ftw!)
They’ve also put a great deal of effort into designing a visually enticing experience. From the thumbnail designs to the choice of color to the scrolling speeds, everything is done with the user experience in mind.
How much does MagellanTV cost?
$6.99 monthly, $23.96 quarterly or $59.88 annually.
Is there a free trial for MagellanTV?
Yes. There is a 7-day free trial for the monthly plan, and a 14-day free trial for the quarterly and annual plans.
Available Streaming Platforms for MagellanTV:
You can stream Magellan TV via your online browser, iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon FireTV, and Apple TV.Try MagellanTV
You’ve likely seen these guys promoted by a YouTuber or two.
Curiosity Stream is the brainchild of John Hendricks, the founder of the Discovery Channel. It was launched back in 2015.
Similar to MagellanTV, it’s sole purpose is to produce and distribute high quality documentaries.
To date, they house over 3,000 documentary films and series, and boast over 13,000,000 subscribers worldwide.
Curiosity Stream comes in at a close 3rd in my list of favorite healthy streaming alternatives. Just behind MagellanTV.
In particular, I appreciate the variety of types of content that Curiosity Stream offers.
There are times where I really don’t feel like diving into a 90 min documentary or a 6 episode series. Sometimes you just need a quick hit.
Curiosity Stream has a ton of content that falls into the 15-30 min range. Perfect for when I’m settling in to eat my 11:30AM hashbrown-veggie-egg medley brunch.
I will admit, I have come across a higher number of duds on this platform than any of the others. But I attribute that to them not being as selective as they should be with their distributing licensing. (3,000 pieces of content vs other services’ 500-1,500 pieces of content)
How much does Curiosity Stream cost?
For HD: $2.99/month or $19.99 annually. For 4K: $9.99/month or $69.99 annually.
Is there a free trial for Curiosity Stream?
Nope. No free trials. 🤷♂️
Available Streaming Platforms for Curiosity Stream:
Almost everything you can think of. You can stream Curiosity Stream via your online browser, iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon FireTV, Amazon KindleFire, Android TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, Apple TV and various Smart TV’s.Try Curiosity Stream
Kanopy is an on-demand streaming service for libraries and universities. It offers both films and documentaries, most of which are classic films.
It was founded by an Australian entrepreneur, Olivia Humphrey, in 2008.
You need to be a member of a university or your local public library in order to access this streaming service.
The good news? It’s 100% free.
With… a few caveats.
You can watch 8 different films or documentaries each month, with the counter resetting on the 1st of the month.
However, there is a “credit-free” section where you can watch as much as you want. Just don’t expect anything mind-blowingly awesome.
Also, there’s a big perk for the parents out there!
Kanopy Kids is completely free. Unlimited educational and wholesome entertainment for your kids.
How much does Kanopy cost?
Nothing. Kanopy is completely free.
Is there a free trial for Kanopy?
No need. Because, again, it’s free. 😉
Available Streaming Platforms for Kanopy:
You can stream Kanopy via your online browser, iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon FireTV, Amazon KindleFire, Android TV, Chromecast, Apple TV and various Smart TV’s.Try Kanopy
Skillshare was founded in 2010 by Michael Karnjanaprakorn (definitely an odd combo of first and last names 🤯) and Malcolm Ong.
It’s a streaming service that tries to do things a little differently.
“The majority of courses focus on interaction rather than lecturing, with the primary goal of learning by completing a project. The main course categories are creative arts, design, entrepreneurship, lifestyle, technology, and many more subtopics.”
Rather than watching film, documentaries or series, you’ll be taking part in online “classes”. You won’t have a live, on-demand teacher, however. All of the video content is produced in advance.
Skillshare claims to have nearly 30,000 online classes to choose from. The vast majority of these are paid, however there are a few hundred free ones.
So, here’s the thing.
I tried Skillshare. I liked it.
I can safely say that all of the content I watched can easily be found on YouTube. For free.
And, at what I consider to be a fairly steep price tag, I simply wouldn’t recommend it personally.
That said, they do offer a massive free trial. So be sure to try it for yourself and let me know all the reasons why I’m wrong and/or a moron.
How much does Skillshare Premium cost?
Is there a free trial for Skillshare Premium?
Yes. There is a 14-day free trial. However, they are currently extending that free trial to 60 days!
Available Streaming Platforms for Skillshare:
You can stream Skillshare via your online browser, iOS and Android.Try Skillshare
Yah, I know what you’re thinking.
“Seriously Patrick? YouTube? I already know about the most popular video platform in the world. I’m equally, and painfully, aware of how much time I waste on it.”
I hear ya.
However, there is a piece of that complaint that is oh so important. That bit about wasting time.
Because here’s the thing…
YouTube is simultaneously incredible… and underwhelming.
Exciting… and terrifying.
Funny… and sad.
Educational… and time-suck.
It all comes down to how you choose to use it.
And since we’ve been talking about using healthy streaming services that educate, inspire, motivate and improve well-being, how can I not mention YouTube?
I’ve learned so much from YouTube. It played a key role in my building of a successful web design business.
But, let’s not forget my criteria for evaluating streaming alternatives to Netflix.
One of them being, it must be “a paid subscription“.
Well, sure… YouTube is free.
But they also have YouTube Premium.
So go buy that if you feel like you must maintain the integrity of my article. 😉
How much does YouTube Premium cost?
Is there a free trial for YouTube Premium?
Yes. There is a 30-day free trial.
Available Streaming Platforms for YouTube:
Literally everywhere and everything. I’m not gonna bother listing them all.Try YouTube Premium
Have you ditched Netflix already?
Are you willing to cut out the rest of them too? (Amazon Prime, Disney+, AppleTV+, Hulu, etc)
What alternative streaming services do you enjoy?
Let me know in the comments! 👇