Fandor vs. The Criterion Channel: Which is better for cinephiles?

Services like Netflix and Hulu may lead the streaming service race, but they don’t offer much for indie-film-loving cinephiles. For that, you go to services like Fandor and The Criterion Channel. These services are a haven for self-proclaimed movie buffs that enjoy less mainstream selections like classics, foreign films, and independent productions.

Although the two services aren’t as popular as mainstream providers, every cinephile worth their salt knows about them. They both offer an exquisite selection of content. The only problem is deciding between the two. So to help make that choice easier, we closely analyze the features of The Criterion Channel vs. Fandor so you can discover which is the best fit. Let’s take a look.

Plans and pricing for Fandor vs. The Criterion Channel


FandorThe Criterion Channel
Monthly price$5.99/mo.$10.99/mo.
Free trial length14 days14 days
Number of titles4,000+2,000+
Original contentYesYes
Offline downloadsNoYes

Comparing the Fandor vs. The Criterion Channel experience

User experience

Though Fandor may have a much more extensive content collection, its user experience leaves plenty of room for improvement, especially on its mobile app. The interface is far from intuitive, with users facing problems like forced portrait mode and constant buffering.

Although the user experience on other devices isn’t as bad, the service still needs some work to reach the level of most other streaming providers. For instance, users have the option to add films to their queue but they have to scroll to the bottom of the screen to access it. And the service sometimes randomly removes films from your queue. 

The Criterion Channel may not offer an exceptional user experience either, but it’s a huge improvement over Fandor. Besides a few changes here and there, the interface is similar across all devices. One major issue is that you won’t have the option to resume playback if you jump to a different screen. You can’t access your watch history either, so you have no way of knowing which videos you’ve already finished.

Other than that, the interface is pretty intuitive, especially when it comes to search features. The service comes with several filtering options, allowing users to discover content based on country, director, language, and more.

Device compatibility

Both services are compatible with multiple devices, so you can watch your favorite indie films from anywhere.

You can access Fandor from the following devices:

  • Android devices version 4.0.3 and up
  • Apple TV
  • Chromecast
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • Kindle
  • Laptop or desktop with the latest web browser
  • Roku devices

You can access The Criterion Channel from the following devices:

  • Android devices
  • Android TV
  • Apple devices
  • Apple TV
  • Chromecast
  • Fire TV
  • Laptop or desktop with supported web browser
  • Roku devices

Personalization

Other than providing personalized recommendations based on your watch history, Fandor doesn’t offer a lot of personalization options. And if you’d like the ability to customize your subscription with add-on features, Fandor doesn’t have much to offer. On the upside, it takes the movies you’ve rated into consideration and comes up with customized recommendations.

Similarly, The Criterion Channel doesn’t come with any add-on options either. But it offers a few solutions you can use to personalize your experience. For instance, it lets you add a profile picture to your account — something that many streaming providers don’t offer.

Plus, you can easily customize your viewing experience with closed captioning and intuitive volume controls. But the lack of fast forward and rewind options may be inconvenient for some.

Features

These two services focus mostly on content, so they don’t offer much when it comes to features. Neither comes with cloud DVR storage, for instance. When it comes to simultaneous streams, Fandor doesn’t specify a limit. The Criterion Channel lets subscribers watch on up to four devices at the same time. 

Fandor content vs. The Criterion Channel content

When it comes to movies, Fandor has a much wider selection, offering over 4000 titles. The service gives you access to classics, documentaries, foreign films, and independent movies. Its extensive movie collection covers a wide variety of categories, including action and adventure, animated, avant-garde, comedy, crime, cult, drama, fantasy, silent, and suspense.

In addition, its foreign film collection includes movies from across the world – from Australia to Russia. Some of the most popular titles on Fandor include Death Race 2000, Dogtooth, Kiss Kiss Fingerbang, Take Off, and Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht.

Although the service doesn’t have original movies or shows, you get a bunch of “editorial” videos in which the Fandor team explores film theory and breaks down movies. This gives cinephiles and film students a lot of educational content to binge on if they ever get tired of the more entertaining side of the platform.

The Criterion Channel may have a smaller selection of titles in its movie collection, but its lineup is just as unique and intriguing. It comes with a huge selection of classics and contemporary movies along with art-house and independent films. It also offers a long list of documentaries and interviews that cinephiles will love. This includes observations on film art and interviews with leading names in the industry.

Fandor sorts movies into categories like film noir, musical, samurai, science fiction, war, and western. The service lets you watch some of the most engrossing titles in history, such as M, Night of the Living Dead, The Apu Trilogy, The Gold Rush, The Thin Blue Line, and Wings of Desire.

The final cut

Cinephiles will have a hard time choosing between Fandor and The Criterion Channel. The Criterion Channel offers a better experience overall and a decent content lineup. If user experience is important to you, it should be your top choice.

Fandor has an extensive collection of eccentric movies that you can’t afford to miss. If variety is a top priority for you, this service might be the best bet. Curious cinephiles can try both options since both services offer a 14-day free trial. 

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