CuriosityStream Review: The Online Service for Science and History Fans
If you want to watch a different streaming service than what you might find on Netflix, Disney Plus, or Hulu, you might want to check out CuriosityStream. This science, history and technology documentary streaming service has thousands of titles to watch. But is CuriosityStream worth the price? Find out what we think in our CuriosityStream review. If you want to log in and access the service now, you can do so at the link below for as low as $ 1.66 per month.
What you will learn
What is CuriosityStream?
This streaming service contains thousands of exclusive and licensed documentaries, most of which cover scientific, historical and technological topics. The founder of the service, John Hendricks, previously founded the Discovery Channel cable television network. CuriosityStream was first launched in 2015 and currently has over 13 million paying subscribers.
How much does CuriositySteam cost?
CuriosityStream’s cheapest plan, which gives you access to all of the service’s HD documentaries, costs just $ 2.99 per month. If you want to watch everything in 4K, you have to upgrade to the 4K monthly plan, which costs $ 9.99 per month. Documentary enthusiasts who know they’ll be using CuriosityStream year-round can make the most of the HD Yearly ($ 19.99 per year) or 4K Yearly ($ 69.99 per year) plans.
The cheapest Netflix tier costs $ 8.99 per month, but you can only stream in SD quality. Prime Video is the same price. Hulu is cheaper at $ 5.99 for its basic plan (with ads). Apple TV + and Disney + cost $ 4.99 per month and $ 6.99 per month, respectively. The UK-focused services we reviewed, Acorn TV and BritBox, are $ 5.99 and $ 6.99 per month respectively. CuriosityStream’s basic HD monthly plan beats them all in cost.
When compared to documentary streaming services, CuriosityStream comes out on top. MagellanTV costs $ 6.99 per month and 4K streaming is included, but the content library is much smaller than that of CuriosityStream: 1,500 titles versus over 3,000. Dox Channel costs only $ 2.99 per month, but there is no mention of the video quality. Kanopy is free with a connection to the participating library or university, but if you don’t have one, you can’t access any titles. The subject costs $ 5.99 per month and PBS documentaries $ 3.99 per month.
While CuriosityStream is primarily a video streaming service, it also falls under the edutainment category, given its purpose. The other edutainment services are generally more expensive. MasterClass, for example, also offers informative content at a higher price ($ 180 per year or $ 90 per course). While MasterClass is more informative, CuriosityStream is more informative: you apply the information gained through a documentary differently from the information acquired from a series of instructional videos. The Great Courses Plus costs $ 20 per month, $ 45 for three months, or $ 150 for the entire year. It is comparable to CuriosityStream and offers informative documentary-style videos, some of which are produced in conjunction with National Geographic and the History Channel. I watched a few free video lectures from Great Courses Plus, and while they sparked my interest, I don’t think I would pay nearly 10 times more each month than I would with CuriosityStream for access.
CuriosityStream is well worth its price, considering the impressive library it offers and the quality of its documentaries by viewers (everything I saw was rated over 90%). However, depending on what you’re looking for, another e-learning service might be a better option.
CuriosityStream is available on the web, mobile devices (Android and iOS), gaming platforms (Xbox One), media streaming devices (Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku); and smart TVs. CuriosityStream doesn’t have a dedicated app on the Microsoft Store, which Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix do.
What can I watch on CuriosityStream?
CuriosityStream’s library includes an impressive 3,000 titles, 900 of which are exclusive. According to a representative, the company plans to expand its streaming library to 11,000 premium titles within five years, an ambitious endeavor that could make maintaining the service interesting. Currently, CuriosityStream offers documentaries in categories such as History, Kids, Lifestyle, Nature, Science, Society and Technology.
Some notable documentaries on the CuriosityStream menu are Light on Earth and Ant Mountain, both hosted by David Attenborough; Dream the Future, narrated by Sigourney Weaver; the BBC history series Empire of the Tsars; the series of human origins Outside the cradle; and the Amazing Dinoworld paleontology series.
Explore food with Food History and Happiness is on the Plate. Immerse yourself in the physical aspect of who you are with The Body. For a sports series about two Florida high school football teams fighting for supremacy, look no further than 4th and Forever: Muck City.
An interesting topic that has captured public attention for years is whether there is an exoplanet that could support human life. The Living Universe documentary takes you on an interstellar adventure in an attempt to find a planet that could support complex life, including us.
For science, some interesting titles are: Redesign My Brain, a three-part series that tests the new science of brain plasticity; Magic Numbers, three episodes that cover the evolution of mathematics; Giants of the Ice Age, three episodes that look at the remarkable creatures of the Ice Age; What is reality? With David Eagleman, a brief look at how we perceive reality and how to broaden that perception; and Exploring Quantum History with Brian Greene, three episodes exploring theoretical physics.
History buffs will certainly enjoy The Celts: Blood, Iron & Sacrifice, an intriguing title for a three-part series exploring British islanders. Catching History’s Criminals: The Forensics Story, examines 200 years of innovation in crime solving. Super Fish, the historical conflicts between us and our tasty underwater friends. Finally, Letters from Queen Victoria: An Unveiled Monarch, a psychological exploration of women, in her own words.
Technology is our bread and butter here at PCMag, so naturally I’m excited about the content CuriosityStream has to offer in this area. I love the look of Order and Disorder, which explores how humans discovered the complex rules of the universe and harnessed energy and information.
Children also benefit from a dedicated category. The beginning and end of the universe, which explores the origin of the universe and its destination, will go a long way in increasing children’s curiosity about our origins. Nature documentaries, including The Secret Life of the Big Cats, can help children understand the challenges facing natural habitats and their native species.
In terms of original content, CuriosityStream offers 4th and Forever: Alcoa, a popular original documentary series produced in partnership with Jupiter Entertainment. The eight-part feature film focuses on the history and impact of a town nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Over the summer, CuriosityStream partnered with Doclights to bring 50 original titles to viewers around the world. These are all natural history titles between 30 and 60 minutes in length, including Cheetah: Beat the Odds, These Birds Were Made to Walk, Monkey Mayhem, and my favorite, Lazy Bear: Birth of a Prince. . I have never associated the lazy with the bef ore princes.
Another original offering is a three-part series called The Story of the House, which takes you behind the story of each room in the featured homes. Nick Offerman, who played Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation, recounts the series. In fact, he’s a master carpenter! The filmmakers traveled to 10 countries and filmed dozens of eye-catching homes.
The pandemic has not affected CuriosityStream’s dedication to new content. According to Clint Stinchcomb, President and CEO of CuriosityStream, “We have created a new and exclusive originals every week since the start of the shutdown and that will continue for the rest of the year and certainly until 2021.”
It’s hard to compare CuriosityStream with other streaming services because it has a narrow focus. From this perspective, however, the service sets itself apart with titles that appeal to a large audience and a robust original title catalog. Netflix also offers documentaries, over 500 of them including Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Forensic Files. Prime Video is home to BBC’s famous natural history series Planet Earth.
For an even wider selection, our list of the best movie streaming services includes Netflix, Hulu, Peacock, and Tubi. Netflix has popular original content, Hulu has a huge library of movies, Peacock highlights popular shows from the NBC network, and Tubi is a free service with a wide selection of ad-supported movies. Movie fans would love The Criterion Channel and Mubi.
But CuriosityStream is your best bet if you’re looking for a solid, high-quality documentary to watch on a rainy Sunday or really any day of the week.
CuriosityStream web interface
I tested the CuriosityStream web interface on the Google Chrome browser running on a Windows 10 desktop. I signed in with an email or phone and password, or with a TV or internet provider. I chose to log in with my email. The CuriosityStream web interface is easy to navigate and I did not encounter any performance issues during testing. It was fluid and intuitive, and the navy / dark yellow color scheme is nice.
The top navigation bar has four menu options: Browse, Collections, Search, and your account name. If you hover over your account name in the top section of the interface, there is a drop-down menu that takes you to Watchlist, Keep Watching, and History. ections. In the My Account section, you can view plan details, payment information, account information, and settings. In Settings, there are options to show only kid-friendly content, show comments, and adjust notifications.
At testing time, the homepage featured an original series called My Wild Backyard that I could watch, add to my watchlist, or just scroll. Further down the page, I saw sections like Recent Additions and Shows for You. I’m a huge fan of custom content, so I especially enjoy this last section. Beyond these categories are sections dedicated to other genres including Spooky Stuff, Ancient History & Dinos, etc.
The drop-down menu in the Browse section allowed me to find content by category or duration. I really liked the duration option, especially if I know I only have a certain amount of time to watch something. In each main category (science, history, technology, nature, society, lifestyle and children), sub-categories make it easier to find even more specialized subjects. Under society, for example, there were entrepreneurship, social issues, politics, crime and forensics, economics, business and commerce, democracy and current affairs.
The Collections menu item leads to a page full of selected programs including Women Rule, Coronavirus, and Hidden Gems. I felt like I was back in my Spotify account, browsing movie collections instead of playlists put together by the Spotify team.
When you hover your mouse over a show or movie thumbnail, you can add it to your watchlist via a button in the top right corner or view the number of episodes and rating in the bottom left . On a show or movie’s detail page, you can see which company produced it, if there are subtitles available, and again the rating.
CuriosityStream mobile apps
I tested the CuriosityStream mobile app on the iPhone 11 running iOS 14.0.1. After logging in (CuriosityStream gives you the same login options as on the web), I noticed a familiar home screen. The featured content, My Wild Backyard, was the same as were the other categories, such as New Additions and Shows for You. In fact, the mobile app is almost a direct reflection of the web platform.
The menu items that were at the top of the website appear as icons at the bottom of the iOS app. When I entered settings I saw the option to enable Kids Mode under Account. When I tapped on My Stuff, I saw Watchlist, Keep Watching, History, and Saved.
The mobile application displays the number of episodes or the length of the documentary and the ranking available directly on the screen. On the web, you will have to hover over a thumbnail to find the same information. Notably, I couldn’t access conversations and comments under the title, as I could on the web. Under one episode, the mobile application shows other episodes of the series. Under Movies, such as Armstrong, CuriosityStream lists recommendations for other movies.
Offline viewing is available on Android and iOS apps. You can record up to 10 hours of content at a time. Amazon Prime, CBS All Access, Disney +, Hulu, Netflix, Starz, and Showtime all support offline viewing.
The CuriosityStream web playback interface defaults to the highest available resolution. It offers volume and playback speed options, as well as rewinding and 15-second fast-forwarding options via the arrow keys on a keyboard. In the lower right corner of the video player, there is an option to add closed captions (only in English unfortunately) and change the audio track option (English or Spanish). There is also a panel with more episodes and a summary of the episode or movie under the video player. The reading screen of the mobile application is similar; the only difference is that it has a Save button and the rewind and fast forward buttons are accessible on the screen.
When it comes to user commenting options, subscribers can use the “thumbs up and down” buttons to rate content and get more personalized recommendations, as well as to see what other users have liked. Most of the content I saw had ratings in the 90s (out of 100%) with comments from thousands of users. I love that there is even a space for viewers to leave comments and interact with other members. Shudder, Mubi, Sundance Now, and Prime Video all allow users to provide feedback on what they’re watching.
As a novice documentary viewer, I decided to watch a title from Start Here! collection (the exclamation mark sold me); a staff-curated series of over 42 episodes that lasts just over 100 hours in total. The deion of the collection assured me that the selected documentaries were the favorites of the public. From there, I chose Speed, a documentary “investigating the insatia of humanity’s need to go faster and further; for fun, for work, to explore, to survive. There are four episodes of Speed, each lasting approximately 50 minutes.
The episode I chose to watch was fascinating. It was about how our desire for speed encouraged incredible nautical inventions that took us across oceans. There was no delay in playback or stuttering, and the audio synchronized well. CuriosityStream recommends download speeds of 25Mbps or higher for uninterrupted 4K viewing, so my home Wi-Fi (100Mbps download) was more than enough.
The audio adjusted seamlessly when I tried to change the option of audio tracks from English to Spanish and vice versa. The 4K video quality was also amazing. Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV +, Disney +, Hulu, and Netflix all offer 4K streaming.
I also tested Speed and Armstrong on the mobile app via my home Wi-Fi network and found the reading experience to be equally satisfying.
CuriosityStream does not specify the number of concurrent streams it supports per account. In testing, however, I was able to access CuriosityStream simultaneously from my laptop and phone without any issues. NBC, HBO Max, and Disney + allow three simultaneous streams, for reference, while BritBox supports five.
Accessibility and parental controls
All the content I watched included captions, which you can’t customize. However, none of the content supports audio deions. Apple TV +, Prime Video, and Netflix all include titles that support this feature, an accessibility option that provides audible narration of on-screen events that are not discernible only through dialogue.
As mentioned, CuriosityStream has a kid-specific category filled with kid-friendly titles. You can ask your children to limit themselves to the titles of this channel. It is also possible to activate the Kids mode, which you can access via the My Account page. However, this option applies globally to your entire account. Disney +, HBO Max, and Netflix support multiple viewing profiles with custom content restriction options.
CuriosityStream and VPN
A v Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a great way to secure your data online. When you activate a VPN, it routes all your internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel between you and a remote server controlled by the VPN company, thus hiding both your identity and your location. This can be inconvenient for some video streaming services which can block VPN traffic completely based on geographic location to avoid complications.
I have tried streaming content on CuriosityStream after connecting my PC to both US and Sweden Mullvad VPN. I had no problem streaming on either connection.
Even if your VPN and video streaming service are currently working together without a problem, that doesn’t guarantee that they will continue to do so. Video streaming services continue to find new ways to detect and block VPN traffic.
The Bottom Line- Low Cost, High Value
I’m not surprised that CuriosityStream has over 13 million paying subscribers in over 175 countries; it offers great value. There is no better place to go for high quality documentaries spanning thousands of topics, with new titles added regularly. Travelers from all over the world will also appreciate that it is available worldwide without any restrictions. Subtitle language options are limited in the United States to English, although audio for some content is available in English and Spanish.
Our publisher’s choice for video-on-demand streaming services is Netflix; its collection of popular original titles is unmatched. To stream live TV, which is not on CuriosityStream, use Hulu + Live TV or YouTube TV. CuriosityStream also deserves Editor’s Choice recognition for the thousands of hours of viewing it provides to its curious, non-fictional audience. The low price, high specs, and good-sized library make it worth it.
Dedicated CuriosityStream Documentary has all the content you need to satisfy your thirst for knowledge and spark new adventures.
- Thousands of titles
- Awesome Exclusive Originals
- Offers apps for most major streaming platforms
- Very affordable
- The inputs are in HD or 4K quality
- Available worldwide
- Limited language options in the United States
- Limited closed captioning options (mostly in English)