“Is CuriosityStream worth it?” The table below contains a short list of its pro’s and con’s.
|Strong Points||Weak Points|
|3,000+ in-depth and serious documentaries||Slow content growth|
|CuriosityStream originals: hundreds of hours of exclusive, high quality documentaries||Too few 4K documentaries|
|Affordable price: as low as $1.67 per month||No personalized suggestion algorithm|
|No ads or commercials||Too many short documentaries|
|Stream on multiple devices from 1 account|
|Good production values|
|Child-friendly filter with password|
|Offline viewing and closed captions|
But I already have Netflix, why should I use CuriosityStream?
Netflix has plenty of documentaries in its content library, but most of these are reality TV (Tiger King), biographies of currently famous people and social & political commentary.
CuriosityStream documentaries however, are almost exclusively about science, history, animals & the natural world, psychology, biographies of historical figures, arts, health etc.
When it comes to documentaries, Netflix and CuriosityStream are not actually direct competitors. In fact, they are complimentary since they cover each other’s content gaps.
Who is CuriosityStream for?
CuriosityStream was founded by John Hendricks, the same person who created the old, good Discovery Channel before it was overrun by reality TV and pseudoscience.
Thus, CuriosityStream’s primary audience are people who want the old Discovery Channel / History / Animal Planet, except that you can stream documentaries like on Netflix.
Parents are another core demographic of CuriosityStream. The vast majority of documentaries are very child friendly, fun and easy to follow. This makes them a great learning supplement for parents who want their kids to discover more about subjects that aren’t studied much in school, if at all.
Finally, a CuriosityStream subscription can be a great gift for documentary lovers.
CuriosityStream Review: 8 Reasons it’s Worth It
What kind of shows and programs are on CuriosityStream?
First things first: CuriosityStream is the real deal if you’re looking for a documentary only streaming service.
As of 2018, it had over 2000 documentaries. Since then, its library has only increased through licensing and their own original content and now has around 3000 documentaries.
The documentaries themselves are serious, very in-depth and tackle complex scientific, historical or cultural topics such as:
- Chasing Quantum Realities – Discusses some of the implications of quantum physics, such as the Many World interpretation or the nature of reality.
- Apocalypse Never Ending War – Covers the aftermath of World War 1, in the years after it. Created with colorized footage of the era.
- Realm of the Volga – Explores the fauna, geography and ecosystems of the river Volga, the longest river in Europe.
CuriosityStream divides its documentaries into 7 major topics. Each of these is then divided into subtopics.
Another great aspect of CuriosityStream is the wide variety in documentary length. Depending on your mood, you can dive into a 7 hour series with 1 hour long episodes, or a quick bite-sized 1 minute per episode series.
Those are the extremes of course. Generally, the most common length formats are the following:
- 2-4 hour series, with 1 hour episodes.
- 1-2 hour series, with 10-25 minute episodes.
- Single episode, 60-90 minute long documentaries.
- 8-15 minutes single episode shorts.
CS is basically a VOD version of what Discovery and History used to be before all the reality TV crap they put on those cable channels these days. Which makes sense since CS was created by the founder of Discovery Networks who left the company several years ago.Blog Reader
Exclusive CuriosityStream content
Another good reason to subscribe to CuriosityStream is its own, exclusive documentaries that aren’t available anywhere else. These are a mix of exclusive licensing and CuriosityStream’s own, in-house productions.
Their entire exclusive collection has a few hundred hours of total content, is rated 90% or higher and has a very high proportion of 4K documentaries.
Here are just a few examples of exclusive CuriosityStream documentaries:
Over the past few decades, significant discoveries have been made on the very site where the pyramids were built. Authentic archaeological experiments have been filmed in real-time, revealing ancient techniques and methods, unlocking certain secrets of these ancient great builders.
The faint red glow of Mars has intrigued those watching it from Earth for centuries. Now space exploration has begun to lift the veil on “The Red Planet”, and upcoming missions to Mars are looking at Mars as a potential habitat for humans. Can we move to Mars in the next decade?
How do animals experience the world around them? How does what they see impact their place in nature and how has their place in nature impacted what they see? We asked Professor Thomas Cronin to show us how the most interesting and prolific eyes in the animal kingdom work and how they came to be.
He has shared our lives for 20,000 years. Along the way, he has helped us find food, kept our livestock, protected us from our enemies, guided us in extreme conditions, and saved us from peril. Now, he comforts us, relieving loneliness and helping us cope with old age. How did dogs come about?
The brain was once thought to be the body’s control tower, issuing commands to the other organs. But scientists are discovering that communication flows between all the organs in our bodies. They transmit messages that can boost immunity, improve memory, strengthen bones and even lengthen lifespan.
Voyager 1 and 2 are truly the probes that just won’t quit. Launched almost 40 years ago these twin probes continue to stun the world. They’ve explored all the giant outer planets of our solar system, 48 of their moons, and are now leaving the solar system, on a journey into interstellar space.
CuriosityStream does not have ads or commercials
You would think that for $1.67 a month, CuriosityStream would try to supplement its revenue by way of ads or sponsorships throughout its content.
But no, CuriosityStream does not show you any ads or commercials. The viewing experience is thus clean and interruption free.
However, the streaming service did at some point have a free tier that was financed through ads and sponsorships. After a while it was discontinued and is no longer available, but you might still see old and outdated articles throughout the Internet regarding this.
Generally good production values
In general, CuriosityStream documentaries have fairly good production values.
Practically every documentary has on-location filming that captures beautiful vistas and landscapes.
Historical documentaries use interesting practical effects and costumed actors to recreate noteworthy scenes, or explain how a particular interaction would have played out.
Finally, many documentaries are complemented by CGI, either to explain a particular process or simply as a tool to see what something is supposed to look like.
Offline viewing & closed captioning
Don’t have Internet connection but still want to watch a documentary? CuriosityStream offers you the option to save a documentary onto your mobile device (only when connected to Wi-Fi) and then watch it offline. Perfect for when you’re on a flight or in an area with poor internet connection.
Another useful feature is that every documentary has closed captions. However they only support a single language: English.
Password enabled child-friendly filter
CuriosityStream content is very child friendly for the most part. However, families with kids can choose to activate an extra, kid-friendly filter that is password protected which blocks out any sensitive content.
The only problem with the kid friendly feature is that you have 0 control over it except activating / deactivating it.
As a parent, CuriosityStream doesn’t give you the option to block certain documentaries, meaning you pretty much just have to take their word that the documentaries they allow are indeed child friendly.
Another disadvantage of kid’s mode is the setting is account wide. This means you have to manually deactivate the child filter every time you want to see the full content library.
Stream on any device with multiple users
A cool thing about CuriosityStream is that it allows you to stream on multiple devices.
Unfortunately, CuriosityStream doesn’t actually say how many devices you can use, but this reviewer tried out their subscription on 4 different devices (desktop PC, 2 smartphones, 1 tablet) and encountered no issues in terms of latency and bandwidth limit.
Another big plus is that CuriosityStream is available on all the major platforms:
- Any laptop, desktop, PC, or Mac via a modern web browser
- Amazon Fire TV Stick and Amazon Fire TV version 5.0 and up (2014 or later)
- Roku 2, Roku 3, Roku 4, Roku TV, and Roku Streaming Stick version 8.1 and up
- Google Chromecast via either the Chrome browser, Android or iOS devices
- Chrome extension for easy access to the web app
- Android device running version 5.0 and up
- Android TV running Android version 5.0 and up
- Apple iPhones, iPods, and iPads iOS 11 and up
- Apple TV 3rd generation and earlier via Air Play
- Apple TV 4th generation HD and 4K Apple TV
- Xbox One
- Available Smart TVs Market apps (recommended devices from 2016 and later): LG, Samsung, Sony/Android TV, TiVo and VIZIO
CuriosityStream has an affordable price
One of the biggest selling points of CuriosityStream is its affordable price:
- Monthly HD subscription: $3.
- Yearly HD subscription: $20, meaning $1.67 per month.
- Monthly 4K subscription: $10.
- Yearly 4K subscription: $70, meaning a monthly price of $5.8 per month.
All of the above subscriptions give you access to the entire CuriosityStream content library. The only thing you cannot see on an HD subscription are the 4K versions of certain documentaries (you can still view them in the HD version).
Another thing to keep in mind is that all of the shows in the HD subscription model actually have a Full HD (1080p) resolution.
If you were to go by the name, you’d think the highest resolution would be 720p, but that’s not the case: every documentary on CuriosityStream has a 1080p version.
The last thing that should be mentioned is that if you subscribe to CuriosityStream for 1 month and then immediately cancel, you can still use the service for the entire 30 day period. The subscription ends only after 30 days have passed since payment.
Suddenlink and Optimum users can subscribe to CS for free!
If your Internet connection comes from Suddenlink or Optimum by Altice, then you’re in luck. CuriosityStream and Altice have a partnership in place that gives you a free CuriosityStream subscription. To activate your subscription, simply follow the steps in this link.
4 Reasons CuriosityStream is not Worth It
Slow content growth
One disadvantage of CuriosityStream is that their content library grows very slowly. Usually, they’ll add at most 10-15 new documentaries per month.
If you’re the kind of person that wants to see the latest and greatest documentaries, you’ll likely be a bit turned off by CuriosityStream since it may take years for certain documentaries to appear on the platform.
Another issue with the slow content growth is that after the first 6-12 months of watching the most interesting shows, you’ll likely reach a point where you just browse the same docs over and over again trying to find something new you’ve overlooked.
I am, I did the year subscription, it was super cheap so figured why not since I enjoy watching educational stuff when I go to sleep. There is definitely some really good stuff on there but they don’t add new content very frequently. One exception to this is that they frequently add these 5-8 min videos which personally is what I am looking for.Blog Reader
There aren’t that many 4K documentaries
As mentioned before, CuriosityStream does have a 4K subscription, which unlocks the 4K version of some documentaries. To be clear, a simple HD subscription allows you to see these documentaries, except not in 4K.
A $10 per month ($5.8 for the annual subscription) would be a reasonable price to pay if all or most of the documentaries had a 4K option. Unfortunately however, at most 5-10% of the available shows have a 4K resolution.
It’s very possible to buy a year-long 4K subscription, only to finish most of the interesting 4K documentaries in 2-3 months (even less if you’re a binge watcher). After that, you’re essentially left with an overpriced HD subscription because there’s nothing left to watch in 4K.
It’s true that CuriosityStream continually adds new content, but the pace is painfully slow and may not keep up with your viewing habits.
That being said, documentaries that have 4K are jaw-dropping in terms of visuals. They also tend to be better made in terms of narration, quality of explanations and general production quality.
Here are just a few of the really good 4K documentaries on CuriosityStream:
No personalized suggestion algorithm
In case you’re a frequent user of Netflix and YouTube, you may have gotten used to their suggestion algorithms that promotes content similar to what you’ve previously watched.
If this is the case and you generally like these personalized suggestion algorithms, then CuriosityStream will likely disappoint you since it doesn’t have one.
What it does have is a “You may also like” section that shows related documentaries to the one you’re watching. These aren’t personalized to your viewing habits, and change from one documentary to another.
Because CuriosityStream doesn’t have a suggestion algorithm, there’s a chance you’ll have to spend a bit more time manually looking through the content library whenever you want to see something new.
Fortunately, the service does come with an “Add to Watchlist” feature where you can save certain documentaries for later viewing. This is hugely helpful so you don’t have to sift through hundreds or thousands of documentaries just to find the right thing to watch at a certain time.
The 3000 documentary count is inflated by small-length documentaries
CuriosityStream currently has a library of around 3000 documentaries, which sounds respectable. However, many of these documentaries are short, meaning 30 minutes or less. In fact, the shortest documentaries are less than 10 minutes long.
However these short mini-docs are counted the same way as full length documentaries. As a result, you will find that the “3000 documentaries” figure doesn’t give you as many hours of content as you would expect.
CuriosityStream final review and verdict
CuriosityStream has its strengths and weaknesses. Overall however, its content library is the biggest out of any documentary streaming service, and comes at a price that is incredibly hard to beat
If you’re more skeptical of the service, then it’s easy to just subscribe for 1 month, see how it goes and then cancel.
The 4K subscriptions are harder to justify. However, if you’re big on 4K and don’t mind the expense it can be a good purchase and gives you access to their limited, but good looking 4K library.
If you’re already comfortable with CuriosityStream’s limitations but also the positive value it can offer you, the year-long, $20 HD subscription gives you that great $1.67 per month price.