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In Europe, you don’t often rub shoulders with someone who doesn’t believe in climate change. Although climate change denial is alive and well in America – not least in the White House – people here mostly accept that climate change is, to some degree, happening.
But that doesn’t mean climate denialism has gone away. Instead, according to new research from the University of Cardiff, it has simply changed shape, into something they call “discourses of delay”. These 12 arguments, favoured by politicians and industry figures, are a more subtle way of downplaying the need for action on climate change than full-on denialism, but no less corrosive to efforts to mitigate damaging climate effects. And they’re filtering into the public consciousness rapidly. Rather than arguing that climate change isn’t happening, now you hear people arguing that it’s too late, too difficult, too controversial, too unfair, too hasty, to take serious action on climate change.
How do you debunk these arguments when you hear them? Tackling these types of misinformation is no mean feat; often they’re put forward in good faith. But explaining to someone the fallacies behind these common discourses of delay can work as what Dr. William Lamb, one of the authors of the Cardiff paper, calls an “inoculation strategy” against future misinformation on climate change.
Here are their 12 discourses of delay, and what you can say to challenge them.
This narrative first came from the fossil fuel industry. “They funded carbon footprint calculators,” Dr John Cook, a research professor at the Centre for Climate Change Communication, tells me, “and my hat off to them for coming up with an incredibly effective PR strategy to distract the public from the real need, to transform how we create energy.”
It’s not pointless to try to avoid plastic, or to limit your meat consumption but we’ll never convince everybody to do that, plus there are socio-economic reasons why it isn’t possible for everyone. Even if we did, it would be like trying to drain the ocean with a pipette compared to systemic change in polluting industries. One hundred companies are responsible for 71 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
The report calls this “whataboutism”. The farming industry points the finger at the car industry, and vice versa. Politicians point out that their nation’s global carbon dioxide output is only small (in the UK it’s between 1 and 2 percent of the world total) and so justify inaction.
Firstly, every country could make a version of this argument, and if they did, there would be no hope to limit climate change. Secondly, that 1 to 2 percent figure is misleading, because per capita emissions in the UK are relatively high – about five times as high as India's, for instance. Thirdly, as a technologically and economically advanced nation, we are more able to take action than many other nations, and we have an additional historical responsibility to do so as a country that has polluted a great deal in the past.
You can challenge the narrative that we are necessarily giving something up by lowering our carbon emissions. “There are a lot of benefits to be gained in our everyday lives from mitigating climate change, in terms of reducing local air pollution, more active travel, not spending so much money on fuel bills and so on,” says Lamb.
If only. The aviation industry is particularly good at manipulating this argument, so good in fact that Matt Hancock recently claimed that “electric planes are on the horizon”.
They aren’t. Or maybe they will be, in several decades time, but the IPCC finding is that we need to half our emissions in the next ten years. “You have to demonstrate that these technologies are going to be available in the timeframe that matters,” says Lamb, and at present, climate friendly planes are a pie in the sky.
Targets are emphatically not policies. As a global community, we are extremely bad at meeting environmental targets. Earlier this month, it was announced that humanity has missed every single one of the 2010 Aichi goals to protect world wildlife and ecosystems.
This kind of greenwashing is “at the heart of industry pushback against regulation”, says the Cardiff report. It is not a foregone conclusion that we need fossil fuels for now in order to transition into using renewables in the future: “We can leapfrog it straight to renewables,” Cook tells me.
And we don’t have the time for a gentle climb down from fossil fuels: it’s ten years.
Or in other words, what we need is carrots, not sticks. Things like funding high-speed rail to substitute flights, and not frequent flyer levies.
But restrictive measures are a normal and accepted part of life already. Seatbelts, for instance, are a restrictive measure enforced by law for the safety of drivers and their passengers, and the car industry pushed back against them hard when they were introduced. They also can and should be used in conjunction with incentives, it’s not an either/or.
These are legitimate concerns if put forward in good faith. But, as Cook says, often this is “a straw man argument attacking a basically non-existent version of climate policies,” which are often designed with social justice in mind to ensure that this doesn't happen.
In any case, you don’t have to increase taxation on the poorest people in society to mitigate climate change. Reducing the cost of train tickets is a good example. And frequent flier levies are a tax on the wealthiest people in our society, who by definition can afford it.
The most vulnerable in society are also the most negatively affected in terms of their health by continuing to burn fossil fuels – coal plants are near poorer parts of the country – and so in fact have the most to gain from green policy.
Unfortunately, this argument is often a leveraging of human suffering to protect the interests of fossil fuel giants. If we actually cared about the plight of these people, we would be providing renewable energy technology patent free. And fossil fuels are already causing drastic damage to lives in the global south.
We are more sure about the impacts and future risks of climate change than we are about cigarettes harming human health, and yet we enact policy to limit people smoking. We don’t need total certainty about outcomes to commit to climate policy, and we don’t require it in any other field of big government decisions, for example, going to war or, dare I say it, exiting the European Union. Taking decisive action on climate change is going to cause a great deal less suffering than either of those examples.
This is a difficult one, to be fair. We have failed, so far, to change the way we live enough to avert climate disaster. But searching for a way through the challenges is not as impossible as this argument makes it seem. One way to counter this argument, Lamb says, is to look at historical analogies, social justice or civil rights movements, for instance, which have successfully “shifted opinion and shifted policies in the past”.
Climate change is not a binary, of either having climate change or not. “We have already committed ourselves to some climate impacts” says Cook, “but it's not locked in just how bad it will be.”
You could also argue that there’s a moral failing in taking this view. We in Western Europe, or North America aren’t the first or the most severely affected by climate change, and giving up is giving up on all the people who don’t happen to live where we do.
As a privacy-minded computer science student preparing to start his first year at Miami University, Erik Johnson was concerned this fall when he learned that two of his professors would require him to use the digital proctoring software Proctorio for their classes. The software turns students’ computers into powerful invigilators—webcams monitor eye and head movements, microphones record noise in the room, and algorithms log how often a test taker moves their mouse, scrolls up and down on a page, and pushes keys. The software flags any behavior its algorithm deems suspicious for later viewing by the class instructor.
In the end, Johnson never had to use Proctorio. Not long after he began airing his concerns on Twitter and posted a simple analysis of the software’s code on Pastebin, he discovered that his IP address was banned from accessing the company’s services. He also received a direct message from Proctorio’s CEO, Mike Olsen, who demanded that he take the Pastebin posts down, according to a copy of the message Johnson shared with Motherboard. Johnson refused to do so, and is now waiting to see if Proctorio will follow up with more concrete legal action, as it has done to other critics in recent weeks.
“If my professors weren’t flexible, I’d be completely unable to take exams,” Johnson said. “It’s insane to think that a company [or] CEO can affect my academic career just for raising concerns.”
His case is just one example of how college campuses are revolting against the use of digital proctoring software, and the aggressive tactics employed by proctoring companies in response to those efforts. In recent weeks, students have started online petitions calling for universities across the world to abandon the tools, and faculty on some campuses, like the University of California Santa Barbara, have led similar campaigns, arguing that universities should explore new forms of assessment rather than subjecting students to surveillance.
“We need to really think long and hard about how we are adapting,” Jennifer Holt, a film and media studies professor at UCSB, told Motherboard. "We’re supposed to be protecting our students.”
Surveillance at Home
Algorithmic proctoring software has been around for several years, but its use exploded as the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to quickly transition to remote learning. Proctoring companies cite studies estimating that between 50 and 70 percent of college students will attempt some form of cheating, and warn that cheating will be rampant if students are left unmonitored in their own homes.
Like many other tech companies, they also balk at the suggestion that they are responsible for how their software is used. While their algorithms flag behavior that the designers have deemed suspicious, these companies argue that the ultimate determination of whether cheating occured rests in the hands of the class instructor. The companies consider the algorithms proprietary and Proctorio, in particular, has reacted swiftly to prevent anyone with access to its training material or underlying code from disclosing their analyses.
“Any plan that calls for schools to just ‘stop using’ proctoring will make cheating more common than it already is, escalating a severe threat to all higher education,” Scott MacFarland, the CEO of ProctorU, another proctoring vendor, wrote in an email to Motherboard. Comparing his product’s deterrent effect to that of more ubiquitous surveillance technology, he added “we may not love the idea of being on camera every time we visit a bank or go to a convenience store, but no one is suggesting taking them down.”
There is little peer-reviewed evidence about how digital proctoring affects students’ honesty and test-taking ability, and the little research that has delved into the issue doesn’t offer a clear consensus. A 2018 study tracking 2,686 students across 29 courses found that those whose exams weren’t monitored using Proctorio received grades 2.2 percent lower than those whose were. The authors concluded that the results were likely a result of cheating by students not using Proctorio. But a 2019 study involving 631 students found that test takers who felt higher levels of anxiety during exams performed worse, and that the cohort of students monitored by proctoring software felt more anxiety than those who weren’t.
A slide from Proctorio's training materials, detailing how the system measures "suspicion levels" while students take exams.
Students’ and educators’ objections to exam proctoring software go beyond the privacy concerns around being watched and listened to in their bedrooms while they take a test. As more evidence emerges about how the programs work, and fail to work, critics say the tools are bound to hurt low-income students, students with disabilities, students with children or other dependents, and other groups who already face barriers in higher education.
Every day for the last week, Ahmed Alamri has opened ExamSoft and attempted to register for the practice version of the California state bar exam. Every time, the software’s facial recognition system has told him the lighting is too poor to recognize his face. Alamri, who is Arab-American, has attempted to pass the identity check in different rooms, in front of different backgrounds, and with various lighting arrays. He estimates he’s attempted to verify his identity as many as 75 times, with no success. “It just seems to me that this mock exam is reading the poor lighting as my skin color,” he told Motherboard.
Alamri isn't alone. Law students around the country are organizing to fight against the use of any kind of digital proctoring software like ExamSoft on bar exams. In California, two students have filed an emergency petition with the state supreme court requesting that it cancel the exam entirely and institute a new form of assessment. A similar effort is underway in Illinois, while Louisiana, Oregon, and Wisconsin have already scrapped their upcoming bar exams as a result of student pressure. Other states, including New York, are fumbling for solutions as deadlines for the exams quickly approach; at one point, New York's test proctor announced it was going to ban the use of "desktop computers" to take the test.
In their petition, the students say the use of ExamSoft discriminates against people of color because facial recognition technology has been shown on numerous occasions to be worse at recognizing people with darker skin tones, and particularly women of color. The California bar exam would require test takers to verify their identity with facial recognition checks eight separate times, according to the petition, and a single failure would end the test.
The petitioners also conducted a survey of 1,413 law students who were preparing to take the bar exam. “78.8 percent of African-American/Black respondents, 91.7 percent of Alaskan Indian or Native American respondents, 71.5 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander respondents, 81.4 percent of Southwest Asian North African respondents, and 75.9 percent of Latinx, Latino/a, Hispanic respondents” reported that they either would not have reliable internet during the exam, or were unsure whether their connection would be reliable.
“They aren’t taking into consideration people from underprivileged communities,” Alamri said. “This sort of online exam is really measuring a person’s generational wealth and not their knowledge of the law.”
Another major point of contention between proctoring companies and university communities has been the algorithmic techniques the software uses to detect potential cheating.
In training documents Proctorio provides to universities, the company explains that its software determines whether a test-taker’s “suspicion level” at any given moment is low, moderate, or high by detecting “abnormality” in their behavior. If a student looks away from the screen more than their peers taking the same exam, they are flagged for an abnormality. If they look away less often, they are flagged for an abnormality. The same goes for how many keystrokes a student makes while answering a question, how many times they click, and a variety of other metrics. Variation outside the standard deviation results in a flag.
That methodology is likely to lead to unequal scrutiny of people with physical and cognitive disabilities or conditions like anxiety or ADHD, Shea Swauger, a research librarian at the University of Colorado Denver’s Auraria Library who studies educational technology, told Motherboard. “These coders are defining, mathematically, the ideal student body: how often it does, or doesn’t do, these certain attributes, and anything outside of that ideal is treated with suspicion,” he said.
A slide from Proctorio's training materials detailing how the software detects "abnormalities" by analyzing keystroke patterns.
Proctorio and other proctoring companies strongly disagree with that assessment. “The biggest thing is that we’re not making any sort of academic decisions, we’re just providing a quicker way [for teachers] to review places in the exam based on the things they’re looking for,” Olsen, Proctorio’s CEO, told Motherboard in an interview. Teachers can choose which types of behaviors to monitor, and it’s up to them to decide whether an abnormality constitutes cheating, he added.
Students from multiple schools across the US told Motherboard that while teachers ultimately choose whether and how to use exam-monitoring software like Proctorio, they often do so with no guidance or restrictions from the school's administration.
"Each academic department has almost complete agency to design their curriculum as far as I know, and each professor has the freedom to design their own exams and use whatever monitoring they see fit," Rohan Singh, a computer engineering student at Michigan State University, told Motherboard.
Singh says that students at the school objected after professors began using an exam-monitoring software called Respondus without proper notice at the end of the spring semester, when many universities began converting to online learning. He added that while it's ultimately up to the instructor how the software is used, it generally helps teachers who are predisposed toward doling out Academic Dishonesty Reports, or ADRs. "As a rule of thumb, the professors who choose to use Respondus are the professors more inclined to use their discretion to hand out ADRs," he said.
Nearly a dozen other students told Motherboard that they or their peers had objected to professors' use of exam-monitoring software at other state universities across the US.
In April, Swauger, who is organizing an effort to convince the University of Colorado system to drop Proctorio, published a peer-reviewed article critical of algorithmic proctoring in the journal Hybrid Pedagogy. In response, Proctorio sent a letter to the journal demanding a retraction. The journal’s editors declined.
The company’s response to Ian Linkletter, a learning technology specialist at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, was even sharper. After Linkletter began sharing Proctorio training videos and documents that explained the company’s abnormality methodology on Twitter, the videos were removed from YouTube, and Proctorio filed for a court injunction to prevent Linkletter from sharing its training material. Linkletter declined to comment for this article due to the pending legal case.
Olsen said Proctorio welcomes public critiques of its service, but takes action when critics share records the company hasn’t made public.
Other proctoring companies have also been litigious when faced with criticism.
In March, after students approached faculty members at the University of California Santa Barbara, the faculty association sent a letter to the school’s administration raising concerns about whether ProctorU would share student data with third parties. The faculty asked UCSB to terminate its contract with the company and discourage professors from using similar services.
In response, a ProctorU attorney threatened to sue the faculty association for defamation and violating copyright law (because the association had used the company’s name and linked to its website). He also accused the faculty association of “directly impacting efforts to mitigate civil disruption across the United States” by interfering with education during a national emergency, and said he was sending his complaint to the state’s Attorney General.
Although ProctorU never filed a lawsuit against the UCSB faculty association, the threat had a chilling effect on professors’ willingness to discuss the software.
Holt, one of the faculty members who first raised questions about proctoring software, declined to talk to Motherboard specifically about the ordeal or ProctorU. But in general, she remains worried about the spread of proctoring tools on campuses.
“We must do better than subjecting our students to surveillance and violations of their privacy,” she said. “We must do better than allowing algorithmic policing through biometric surveillance as the new normal for education.”
Halo 3: ODST is out on Steam today, a fresh addition to the Master Chief Collection, letting a whole new generation of players take part in one of the defining games of the series’ golden age. But today, I don’t want to look forwards, I want to look back, to the game’s 2009 release.
Our bruised nation longs for nothing more than to be scared of things that can’t actually harm us, which is perhaps why the masses are more eager than ever to embrace spooky season this year. And while we remain supremely bummed that Candyman got bumped to next year, we can at least comfort ourselves with The Haunting…
Helstrom is one of the last remnants of Marvel TV in the pre-Disney+ era, and it definitely looks like one of the more interesting series to come out of the studio’s various streaming deals—it must have some quality, or else Hulu would’ve scrapped it along with Runaways and the planned Howard The Duckseries, among…
Niche streaming platforms are all the rage. | Aja Romano/Vox
Crunchyroll or Funimation? Acorn TV or BritBox? The Criterion Channel or Mubi? Go beyond Netflix and Hulu with our guide to niche streaming platforms.
As the streaming wars between major platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max have expanded, so too has the world of smaller, more specialized streaming services that focus on serving a specific niche to fans who want more than what the bigger mainstream players have to offer.
Since they aren’t trying to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, these boutique streaming services can offer carefully curated selections that cater to the special interests of their viewers. But because these services also tend to fly under the radar, it's not always easy to know what’s out there. So we've put together a rundown of some of our favorites.
The list below covers a range of specialized streaming platforms targeting everyone from anime-loving geeks or theater nerds to international audiences. Among all of them, there’s almost certainly something for everyone. Because the list can be daunting, we’ve categorized them by content type.
The basic setup: About 2,000 movies from the Criterion Collection are available at a time, and they rotate monthly so there’s always something new to watch. The catalog contains Hollywood classics, independent films, and world cinema, as well as behind-the-scenes features and interviews, all curated by theme, era, genre, and more.
The pros: The Criterion Channel offers startlingly affordable access to a film catalog that’s much richer than what you’ll find on your average streaming service, especially since the pickings are slim on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime if you’re looking for something made before 1980. You can find most anything on the service, from universally acclaimed works of art to influential B-movies that changed the genre game. The Channel’s curation — in the form of double features, family-friendly “matinees,” and collections of films themed around eras, artists, or techniques — is helpful if you feel overwhelmed by the number of choices. And for cinephiles, the interviews, commentary, scene breakdowns, and explorations of film history are invaluable.
The cons: You won’t find much in the way of TV on the Criterion Channel (though a handful of series pop up from time to time). There aren’t any new releases. And if you’re looking primarily for a huge base of films and TV shows that kids can watch, Criterion isn’t for you; most of the content is strictly for adults, and a fair amount of offerings aren’t in English.
Best for: People who love classic, independent, and foreign films; those who want to dive deeply into the details of cinematic masterpieces; and people who want to expand their cinematic horizons beyond Hollywood standards.
Cost: $10.99/month or $99.99/year; includes a free 14-day trial.
The basic setup: Fandor curates arthouse, independent, and international films for the highbrow film fan.
The pros: Fandor claims to have more than 4,000 films in its catalog, which is truly impressive,given that it’s half the cost of its nearest competitors. It comes off like a slightly hipper Criterion, emphasizing users’personal tastes by drilling down its catalog into specific genres, subgenres, years, and other considerations. The website includes reviews and editor’s notes and curates selections from film festivals around the globe, which is really cool.
The cons: Many of Fandor’s films are available on other sites. Its community is much smaller than those of Criterion or Mubi, so things such as user reviews are less reliable. And as with other arthouse-film platforms, you won’t find much in the way of genre entertainment.
Best for: People who love independent and foreign films but who might want to try a different approach than the Criterion method of curation.
Cost: $5.99/month or $49.99/year; includes a free seven-day trial.
The basic setup: A carefully curated, rotating streaming catalog of arthouse and independent films. It comes with a time limit: Most films are available on Mubi for only 30 days.
The pros: Mubi’s biggest assets are a commitment to thoughtful curation and an emphasis on world cinema. Because Mubi licenses films for a limited time, it’s able to offer a wider variety compared with many similar services, albeit on a limited rotation. The Mubi community is also full of film enthusiasts and offers a thriving garden of user reviews.
The cons: If you miss a film during its 30-day rotation, you might not get to see it again — or you may have to wait a long time for it to reappear in the Mubi roster.
Best for: Film geeks, especially lovers of foreign and hard-to-find films, but the limited-time offerings won’t be for everyone.
Cost: $10.99/month or $95.88/year; includes a free seven-day trial.
The basic setup: Although it’s mostly focused on British television, Acorn TV offers a hodgepodge of international offerings, from the beloved Canadian drama Slings & Arrows to the beloved Australian mystery series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (which fan-funded an original movie sequel that’s currently available only on Acorn), as well as the 2019 Nordic noir Wisting. Acorn’s original programming is also solid, with mysteries and dramas from stars such as David Tennant.
The pros: It offers original programming, plus a deep catalog of mysteries, dramas, and older and more obscure BBC and ITV content that didn’t find its way to the much better-known streaming service BritBox.
The cons: Some of the more mainstream titles are also available on other sites.
Best for: Fans who like to binge epic miniseries and murder-mystery series like Midsomer Murders and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
Cost: $5.99/month or $59.99/year; includes a free seven-day trial.
The basic setup: A streaming catalog exclusively containing BBC and ITV-produced shows and films — including the full catalog of the classic Doctor Who, current BBC news programming, and iconic British comedy series such as Are You Being Served?, Absolutely Fabulous, and Fawlty Towers.
The pros: A dauntingly large catalog of BBC and ITV content. The sheer variety of content here, from British Dramas You’ve Actually Heard Of to Shakespearean adaptations and soothing lifestyle shows,is enviable.
The cons: If you’re a fan of older BBC and ITV programming, some of the omissions here may be puzzling. For instance, you can watch seven seasons of Prime Suspect, but there’s no Wire in the Blood — that one’s on Acorn TV, even though it’s an ITV show.
Best for: British TV enthusiasts of all forms and varieties.
Cost: $6.99/month or $69.99/year; includes a free seven-day trial.
The basic setup: Broadway HD offers a large streaming catalog of live and adapted theater, musicals, opera, and concert performances. As the older Broadway streaming site, Broadway HD has worked hard to bring streamable theater to the masses. Its selection isn’t huge, but it is generally very good.
The pros: If you want to watch a wide variety of theater and don’t mind older or pretaped performances, you really can’t miss with this platform. Its selection of plays and dramas is particularly enticing: You’ll find everything from BBC adaptations of Shakespeare to Paula Vogel’s superb Indecent to the 2017 production of the Pulitzer-nominated Thom Pain (starring Rainn Wilson).
The cons: Though its selection has grown dramatically, the lack of more recent theatrical hits may be a turnoff.
Best for: Fans of Shakespeare, niche cult faves like Jerry Springer: The Opera, and a wide variety of staged dramas.
Cost: $8.99/month or $99.99/year; includes a free seven-day trial.
The basic setup: Broadway on Demand is a recently launched streaming catalog of Broadway shows, concerts, web series, and adapted theater. The platform focuses on scheduled, livestreamed pay-per-view events, some of which the site then hosts for a limited time. A small selection is available to watch for free or with a 48-hour rental.
The pros: If you miss live theater, Broadway On Demand has constructed an elaborate platform designed to bring live theatre into your home. This includes innovative programs like “Show Share,” which brings you livestreamed shows at specific times from unexpected places around the country — like Tallahassee Community College or a high school in Greenfield, Indiana. That’s pretty neat. The platform also provides (for an additional cost) a bundle with Broadway Access, another boutique site that emphasizes theatre teaching and instruction.
The cons: The site is frankly confusing, glitchy (on a laptop, it’s often difficult to get clips to play), and difficult to parse and navigate. The app is currently only available for Apple devices and Roku. And the pay-per-view structure will be off-putting to many people used to a monthly streaming charge.
Best for: People who like watching live theatrical events.
Cost: A selection of livestreamed events and other content is currently free. BOD primarily uses a pay-per-view “ticket” model, where “tickets” to view a livestreamed performances range from anywhere from $3 or $4 to over $30. Additionally, there’s a service charge that ranges from $2.85 to $4.95 with every livestream ticket purchase. A premium subscription tier that presumably lets you bypass the pay-per-view ticket structure is reportedly launching later this fall. Additionally, the Broadway Access bundle is currently a yearly fee of $119.88.
The basic setup: Crunchyroll offers an extensive streaming catalog of anime, manga, TV dramas, and other related media, primarily from Japan and China.
The pros: A longstanding and trusted source for anime, Crunchyroll has gotten great at offering options like localized subtitling and dubbing, simulcasting content, and curating a wide-ranging, interesting selection for picky fans. Don’t forget that it also offers manga for users to read, as well as shows and movies. Best of all: much of the content in Crunchyroll’s vast library is free to stream.
The cons: Although much of Crunchyroll is free, if you want access to subtitled anime episodes that are simulcast on Crunchyroll with their first-run airing in Japan, you’ll need to purchase a premium subscription. And if you’re a fan of dubs over subs, Funimation will likely be your first anime stop rather than Crunchyroll.
Best for: All of us anime-lovin’ fools. Though HBO Max now offers a very small anime selection cross-curated from Crunchyroll, it won’t be enough to satisfy many fans. And Crunchyroll also has an edge for subtitle fans in the subbing versus dubbing war — many US fans prefer it as a source for professionally subtitled anime.
Cost: A basic subscription costs $7.99/month and includes access to Crunchyroll simulcasts as well as the Crunchyroll manga catalog and HD streaming. Higher tiers cost $9.99/month and $14.99/month; each higher tier includes bundled access to Nickelodeon and VRV as well as special Crunchyroll perks at varying levels. (The pricier the tier, the more plentiful the perks.)
The basic setup: Similar to Crunchyroll, Funimation boasts another large streaming catalog of anime, J-drama, and other content, all of which is produced or distributed by anime stalwart Funimation.
The pros: Again like Crunchyroll, most of Funimation’s catalog is free (ad-supported). — but Anime fans who prefer dubbed content to subtitled content will also be drawn to Funimation, which has long been known for quality dubbing. And because Funimation is primarily a distributor, it’s also great for fans of simulcast episodes and quick releases — so anyone who prefers not having to wait months for dubbed episodes and films to be released will want to give it a look.
The cons: Funimation’s anime catalog is frankly huge, but it’s still limited compared to Crunchyroll’s. Also, access to ad-free episodes and simulcast subtitled episodes with the original Japanese airing requires a subscription.
Best for: Fans of dubbed anime, and people who prefer well-curated series with lots of info about what they’re watching.
Cost: Tiered pricing is $5.99/month or $59.99/year for ad-free episodes and the ability to stream on up to two devices simultaneously; $7.99/month or$79.99/year for up to five simultaneous streams and downloadable media; and $99.99/year foreverything in the lower tiers plus additional Funimation merch discounts and perks, including swag.
The basic setup: A late entry into the anime streaming field, HiDive launched in 2017 and has since made a name for itself as an independent streaming platform.
The pros: HiDive offers exclusive distribution for a number of animation companies, including its owner Sentai (known for Akame Ga Kill and other recent hits), Section23, Switchblade Films, and a few others. HiDive offers subtitling with dubbing on select titles. It also gives paid users a lot — including the ability to customize subtitles! — for a pretty low monthly fee. The platform also has a Vrv bundle, so with a Vrv subscription, you can watch many of its shows there.
The cons: Unlike the larger anime platforms, you can’t watch HiDive shows online for free.Because it’s an indie platform often limited to direct distribution, HiDive has a significantly smaller catalog than Crunchyroll or Funimation. But it’s still an impressive catalog with a lot of recent hits a well as old classics, and anime fans will want to consider taking it for a trial run.
Best for: Hardcore anime fans who want access to Sentai shows and other titles exclusive to HiDive.
Cost: $4.99/month or $47.99/year for access to episodes and the ability to stream on up to two devices simultaneously, plus simulcasts, multiple user profiles, and lots of customization.
The basic setup: The AMC-owned Shudder boasts a carefully curated rotating streaming catalog of horror films new and old.
The pros: Shudder is great for horror film lovers, because it runs the gamut from wacky B-movie horror to esoteric arthouse picks. It has an opinionated community of fans, and occasionally features live events like the popular movie marathon series The Last Drive-In. Coolest of all, it has a live movie stream where paid users can watch random selections from its catalog play 24/7.
The cons: Shudder’s catalog rotates pretty regularly, so it’s easy to miss something if you don’t check in often. And the site is pretty glitchy — for instance, you might have to click titles a few times for them to play, or to add them to your customized list.
Best for: Horror buffs of all kinds, whether you’re into the gore or the arthouse variety.
Cost: $5.99/month or $56.99/year; includes a seven-day free trial.
The basic setup: Screambox serves horror films for the voracious horror fan.
The pros: Horror fans love horror any way they can get it — and for a subset of those fans, the more extreme or lowbrow, the better. Screambox aims directly at that target audience, with a category just for “extreme” films with titles like Virgin Cheerleaders In Chains, and genres broken into subgenres: Do you want your serial killing with a side of home invasion, backwood butchery, or murderous clowning?
The cons: Screambox lacks the prestige of the AMC-backed Shudder, with many of its offerings lower-profile and thus wildly varied in quality. Many horror fans consider B- or even C- and D-movies as their bread and butter, but many others won’t.
Best for: The kind of horror fan who can tell you every instrument of torture used in the Saw franchise, probably.
Cost: $4.99/month or $35.88/year, includes a free seven-day trial.
The basic setup: Asian Crush focuses mainly on Korean, Chinese, and Japanese movies and dramas in a wide variety of genres.
The pros: Asian Crush is a versatile site depending on what you’re into — fans of J- and K-horror will be delighted by the site’s horror and thriller offerings, while K-drama fans should have plenty to keep them occupied. The site’s curated collections are solid; most of the films are available to stream for free and they’re subbed, which is a great way to get hooked.
The cons: While most of the site is free, many films are completely behind a paywall, and there’s little to tell you which are free and which aren’t. The site is also an odd duck. For one thing, it doubles as a media site, serving regional celebrity and pop culture news — except most of the news is months and even years old.
Best for: Asian film and drama fans looking to branch out beyond the most well-known titles that find their way to Netflix and other mainstream platforms.
The basic setup: Roukuten Viki, aka Viki, offers a streaming catalog of TV dramas, variety shows, and films from China, Japan, Korea, and Thailand.
The pros: If you want Chinese and Korean TV, this is your best bet — the site has over 500 K-dramas and hundreds of shows and films from China and other Asian regions. Most of the titles in Viki’s catalog are free to stream, but newer releases and the most popular titles typically require a subscription.
Viki has a unique approach to distribution and access, in that it works with teams of fansubbers across the globe who contribute foreign subtitles to licensed titles on its website. That means that the quality of subtitling and translation can vary, but it also means fans in numerous countries can get broad access to a tremendous selection of shows and films.
The cons: Viki has a smaller selection of dramas and films from regions outside of Korea and mainland China, and some shows in its catalog have yet to actually be released.
Best for: K-drama lovers who’ve already watched everything on Netflix and want more. Fans of The Untamed will also find the full series and its two side movies here, along with many more TV dramas from mainland China. And K-pop and J-pop lovers will find plenty of music-related content in the many variety and reality shows, including current smash-hit K-pop show I-Land.
Cost: Tiered pricing is $4.17/month ($49.99/year) for access to movies, ad-free HD episodes, and early access to some episodes; or $8.33/month ($99.99/year) for even earlier access to all episodes. Includes a free 30-day trial.
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