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Last updated on Oct 28, 2020

Criterion Channel Review

The Criterion Channel


  • Good Collection of classic art-house films
  • Access to documentaries and interviews for studying film
  • Advanced filters for faster searches


  • Slightly pricier than other streaming services
  • Limited titles for non-cinephiles
  • No option to discover trending content
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How We Reviewed The Criterion Channel

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15 hours of video streamed

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7 movies watched

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4 streaming services compared

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The Criterion Channel Review

The shutdown of WarnerMedia’s FilmStruck left cinephiles stranded as it meant they could no longer get The Criterion Channel. Few streaming services provided the same kind of access to art-house classics, foreign films, and independent productions. Fortunately, The Criterion Channel launched as a standalone streaming service in April 2019.

The Criterion Channel stands out from other services with an exclusive collection of movies in genres like avant-garde, film noir, and silent films, on top of more common genres. For those bored with the typical selection of movies from other streaming providers, it provides a much-needed haven.

Get access to classics from the ’40s and ’50s, including “12 Angry Men,” “Experiment in Terror,” “The 400 Blows,” “The Big Heat,” and “The Lineup.” The Criterion Channel also beats the competition when it comes to international films, with movies from 50+ countries, including Austria, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Iceland, and Yugoslavia.

It takes a unique approach to content sorting, allowing users to do things like browse by director and discover movies made by women. It also helps you find your favorite movies faster with the advanced decade-wise and country-wise filtering options.

The Criterion Channel Packages at a Glance

Free trial length
Offline viewing
The Criterion Channel
$10.99/mo. or $99.99/yr.
14 days

How We Evaluated The Criterion Channel

The Criterion Channel may be the default service for cinephiles and film students, but some of the content may not necessarily appeal to everyone, so it’s not the best option if you’re only going with one streaming service.

Because of the ever-increasing number of standalone streaming services like Disney+ and Apple TV+ out there, we emphasized content assortment and price points in this review of The Criterion Channel. We also compared other essential features like simultaneous streaming for an even more accurate comparison.

The Criterion Channel vs. Other Streaming Services

The Criterion Channel
Apple TV+
Price for basic access
Free trial length
14 days
7 days
7 days
30 days
Content library size
1,997 films
11+ films and TV shows
8,000+ films and TV shows
4,150 flims and TV shows
Viewing limit (basic plan)
4 per account
6 per account
4 per account
2 per account

4 Key Criterion Channel Considerations

Unique content library

With fewer than 2,000 titles to choose from, The Criterion Channel content library pales in comparison to services like Hulu and Netflix. But what it lacks in numbers, it makes up for in exclusivity. No other provider has a larger selection of cult favorites, foreign movies, and Hollywood classics.

Watch cinema masterpieces from filmmakers like Alice Rohrwacher, Akira Kurosawa, Chantal Akerman, Charlie Chaplin, Jean Renoir, Lars von Trier, Luis Buñuel, and Werner Herzog.

3,500 supplementary features

The Criterion Channel particularly appeals to aspiring filmmakers with its wide selection of additional content such as commentary tracks, documentaries, interviews, and video essays. When you need a break from movies and shows, choose from 3,500 supplementary features and 350 shorts in The Criterion Channel’s content library.

Learn from the biggest names in the industry, including Aliza Ma, Christian Petzold, Ed Lachman, Guillermo del Toro, Shirley Clarke, and Stan Lee. And explore the industry from the inside with “Adventures in Moviegoing” where actors and filmmakers present highlights from the library. With all this and more, The Criterion Channel is a goldmine for learning the art of filmmaking.

Distinct sorting and filtering system

The Criterion Channel layout supports new content discovery with a sorting system unlike any offered by other streaming services. Though you get updates about the latest additions to the library, you also get to choose from categories like ’70s sci-fi, Criterion editions, essential art house, and female filmmakers.

This distinctly sorted layout further demonstrates The Criterion Channel’s remarkable content library and makes it easy for users to explore. Along with the sorting system, the service also stands out for its advanced filtering system that simplifies the process of locating programs to watch: Besides the usual genre-based filtering option, it also allows viewers to sift through content based on country, decade, and director.

Get free access for 14 days

Compared to other independent streaming services like Disney+ and Apple TV+, The Criterion Channel offers a much longer free trial period. You get free access for 14 days, which gives you enough time to really explore the content library and test the app’s features before you decide to subscribe.

The Bottom Line

The Criterion Channel stands out from other streaming services due to its exclusive movie selection, which mainly appeals to film enthusiasts. For cinephiles and film students, a subscription is a must-have. However, if you’re looking for a service with a wide selection of popular content, you might want to look elsewhere.

About the Authors

Jacqueline Zote

Jacqueline Zote Contributing Writer

Jacqueline Zote is a digital marketing and entertainment writer who makes regular contributions to Sprout Social and Recreation Insider. Her interests range from pop culture and mythology to social activism. When she’s not writing, she goes on food adventures and binges on crime drama. Her short fiction has been published by HarperCollins Publishers and Zubaan Books.