CuriosityStream vs. Netflix: Which is better for documentaries?

With an abundance of video streaming services on the market, documentary fans have plenty of options to choose from, but CuriosityStream and Netflix lead the race.

Explicitly geared towards avid documentary fans, CuriosityStream seems like an obvious choice. Behind the streaming service is Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks, so you can expect quality content that’s as intriguing as it is informative. The service lets you stream documentaries about history, lifestyle, nature, science, society, and technology.

But Netflix, being one of the most popular streaming services out there, is also a close competitor. Its extensive collection of original content isn’t just limited to TV shows, but also extends to riveting documentaries on crime, history, and society.

With two great options, it can be hard to make a choice. We’re here to help. In this review, we’ll highlight some of the most important features of each service so you can make an informed decision. 

Plans and pricing for CuriosityStream vs. Netflix


CuriosityStreamNetflix
Price$2.99/mo.$8.99/mo.
Free trial length7 days*30 days
Number of titles (documentary)2,000+800+
Original contentYesYes
Offline downloadsYesYes
Streaming qualityUp to 4K Ultra HD**Up to 4K Ultra HD**

*Select titles

**Based on device and content compatibility

Comparing the Netflix vs. CuriosityStream experience

User experience

When it comes to user experience, CuriosityStream doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. Despite a few adjustments here and there, the layout is pretty similar across all devices. It relies on a simple and straightforward interface so that even young viewers should be able to navigate the service. 

Users can view a list of documentaries they’ve watched, browse videos by category, and bookmark content they want to watch later. Subscribers can sort videos by length and type, which makes it much easier to find something to watch.

The Netflix user experience is nothing short of seamless across all devices. Although the specifics vary slightly depending on which version of the service you’re using, they all have a similar theme. Users have the option to discover the latest docuseries, browse videos by category, and get personalized recommendations.

Device compatibility

Both services are compatible with multiple devices, so you should have no trouble accessing them. Here’s a closer look at the device compatibility of both services. 

CuriosityStream works with the following devices:

  • Any laptop or desktop using a modern web browser
  • Amazon Kindle (2014 or later)
  • Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick version 5.0 and up (2014 or later)
  • Android device version 4.1 and up
  • Android TV version 5.0 and up
  • Apple devices iOS 11 and up
  • Apple TV
  • Chromecast
  • Roku 2 and up
  • Roku TV and Roku Streaming Stick version 8.1 and up
  • Smart TVs – LG, Samsung, Sony, TiVo, and VIZIO
  • Xbox One

Netflix works with the following devices:

  • Any PC or laptop with the latest web browser
  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Android smartphones and tablets
  • Apple smartphones and tablets
  • Apple TV
  • Blu-ray players – Funai, LG, Magnavox, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba
  • Chromecast
  • Nintendo 3DS
  • Nvidia Shield
  • PS 3, PS 4, and PS Vita
  • Roku devices
  • Smart TVs – Hisense, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Sony, and VIZIO
  • Wii U
  • Windows smartphones and tablets
  • Xbox One and Xbox 360

Personalization

CuriosityStream doesn’t offer a lot of personalization options, though parents can restrict inappropriate content using Kids Mode. You can’t remove ads completely, and you can only get closed captions in English.

The service doesn’t come with any add-on features, either. Although, from time to time, you can find CuriosityStream promotions through YouTube that give you free access to Nebula —  a video streaming service dedicated to independent creators.

Netflix doesn’t come with add-on options either, but it lets you create up to five user profiles per account. The service will automatically personalize content recommendations and feeds for each profile. For some of its original content, Netflix also allows users to turn on alternate audio so they can get an audio description of what’s happening on screen.

Features

The best part about CuriosityStream is that it doesn’t have any restrictions on simultaneous streaming. You can steam from several devices at a time, which makes it perfect for large families and educational institutions alike.

On the other hand, the basic Netflix plan only allows a single stream. You can upgrade to the Standard Plan ($12.99/mo) for an additional stream. But the max you can get is four simultaneous streams with the Premium Plan ($15.99/mo.)

CuriosityStream content vs. Netflix content

When it comes to documentaries, CuriosityStream, without a doubt, has a more robust collection compared to Netflix. Although the company doesn’t specify the exact number of titles it offers, it’s somewhere around the 2000+ mark. Among these are riveting originals like Deep Time History, Dream the Future, Light on Earth, Miniverse, The History of Food, and Scanning the Pyramids.

The service has tons of content in educational categories like history, nature, science, society, and technology. But it also carries several lifestyle documentaries like A Stitch in Time, Food Markets, and The Secret World of Lego.

With that said, Netflix is the go-to destination for crime and entertainment documentaries like Making a Murderer, Sinatra: All or Nothing at All, The Disappearance of Madeline McCann, and The Ted Bundy Tapes. The service also has a decent selection of educational documentaries like David Attenborough’s Our Planet and Scott Kelly’s A Year in Space.

The final cut

Considering cost and content library alone, CuriosityStream comes out on top — you get thousands of titles for just $2.99/mo. But if you enjoy binging on crime documentaries, you’ll get more out of a Netflix subscription.

It’s all a matter of the types of documentaries you like to watch and what extra perks are important to you. If you’re having a hard time deciding, why not give both options a test drive — both services offer a free trial, so you can give the services a quick, risk-free trial. 

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