From Napflix to Manbang: weird and wonderful Netflix rivals around the world

Koalas, blaxploitation and silent cinema: three treats from the world beyond Netflix. Photo / Daily Telegraph UK
Koalas, blaxploitation and silent cinema: three treats from the world beyond Netflix. Photo / Daily Telegraph UK

The last few years have seen a remarkable rise in alternative online-streaming services.

While Netflix and Amazon Prime scrabble to attract the widest possible audience, HorseLifestyle.tv is happy to cater for a very narrow niche.

Here are a few of the best, and oddest, sites from around the world:

Napflix

A boring site with an interesting idea behind it. Napflix, which launched in October, offers a range of dull videos guaranteed to send you to sleep.

Although "slow TV" may be seen as a Scandanavian phenomenon, the site's Spanish founder Víctor de Tena says the project has its roots firmly in "the concept of siesta."

De Tena told The Telegraph that he came up with the idea after falling asleep while watching "a typical football match, with the result 0-0".

The match was a disappointment, but his nap wasn't. It inspired him to create "a platform to give value to the videos that you're bored by."

Napflix homepage. Photo / Napflix
Napflix homepage. Photo / Napflix

It may sound ridiculous, but Netflix has already bought streaming rights to some of the bigger slow TV hits - such as Norway's National Knitting Evening, and a seven-hour film showing a train journey from Bergen to Oslo.

Meanwhile, Napflix (which mimics Netflix's distinctive branding) offers more indie fare, drawing its collection from YouTube.

Highlights include a four-hour lava lamp video, a documentary on stamp collecting and adorable footage of sleeping koalas.

What to watch first: Subway From Canal St to Coney Island. (It does exactly what it says on the tin.)

Website: napflix.tv

Cost: Free

Manbang

Internet access may be severely limited in North Korea, but that hasn't stopped Kim Jong-Un getting in on the game. In August 2016, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea revealed its answer to Netflix: Manbang.

Stop sniggering, please - that unfortunate name is Korean for "everywhere", although it's only available in Pyongynag, Siniju and Sariwon.

According to state media outlet KCTV, Manbang is a set-top box that gives the viewer access to five TV channels, and an on demand archive of totalitarian propaganda "documentary films about the leadership", which is perfect for those all-night bingeing sessions.

What to watch first: If you can watch Manbang, it's probably illegal for you to be reading this article.

Website: N/A

Cost: Your civil liberties.

Brown Sugar

"Brown Sugar is just like Netflix, only blacker," says Pam Grier, who played the title roles in Jack Hill's Coffy and Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown.

The service, launched just last week by African American channel Bounce TV, offers a horde of classic Blaxploitation films from the Seventies and Eighties, such as Foxy Brown, Superfly and the Mack.

"These movies are entertaining and fun," says Grier, "but they were also empowering to the black community as they depicted African Americans as strong leading characters and heroes for the first time."

"You can see the influence of these movies in every aspect of rap and hip-hop," adds rapper Rick Ross. "In the music, the lyrics, the fashion, and overall style-the Blaxploitation genre is where it all began."

What to watch first: Shaft (1971). Starring Richard Roundtree as a Harlem detective, this action movie was the first blaxploitation film to become a mainstream crossover hit. It's a killer theme tune, too.

Website: brownsugar.com

Cost: US$3.99 (£3.20) per month

Shudder

There are a number of horror-only streaming services out there (such as screambox.com), but since Shudder launched in October it's blown most of them out of the water.

The site's vast library of old and new films includes the likes of An American Werewolf in London and Day of the Dead, as well as early classics such as Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari.

Meanwhile, for gore fans there's the Italian classic Zombi 2, a kind of unofficial "sequel" to George A Romero's Dawn of the Dead (which was released in Italy as Zombi).

Unforgettably, it features a fight between a zombie and a shark. What more could you possibly want?

What to watch first: Let the Right One In (2008). This moving Swedish film about a 12-year-old who befriends a young vampire earned a place on The Telegraph's list of the 21st century's greatest horror films.

Website: shudder.com

Cost: £4.99 ($8.78) per month / £49.99 ($88) per year

The All Warrior Network

What do you look for in a streaming site? Variety? Quality? Guns? If your answer was "guns", The All Warrior Network may be the right one for you.

Founded in 2013 by Musa Productions, a film consultancy run by US Army veterans, the site has tried to provide a more balanced, accurate portrait of combat than the standard Hollywood fare.

Alongside many original documentaries, there's also a topical comedy series (Yo Left, Yo Right), and - bizarrely - a Korean children's animation (Johnny Express).

What to watch first: The Ranger (2015). This short documentary, directed by Emmy-winner Robert Ham, tells the story of U.S. Army Ranger Chris Bemiss's struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Website: allwarriornetwork.com

Cost: $6.99 per month / $74.99 per year

The Internet Archive

Since 1996, The Internet Archive has been slowly building a digital answer to the Library of Alexandria.

As well as storing in the region of three million books, the San Francisco-based archive has oodles of films which have fallen into the public domain.

Many are public information broadcasts, but there's also a large collection of classic movies, which ranges from the sublime (Night of the Living Dead, Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes), to the ridiculous (Plan 9 From Outer Space). Meanwhile, Conan Doyle fans can catch Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes in The Woman in Green.

Website: archive.org/details/moviesandfilms

What to watch first: His Girl Friday (1940). Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell star in Howard Hawkes's timeless screwball comedy as a pair of fast-talking newspaper journalists. She's his ex-wife, and keen to leave the business, but her her boss/ex-husband (Grant) can't bring himself to let her go.

Cost: Free (no advertising)

Tubi TV

The streaming equivalent of one of those discount bins at the back of your local video store.

TubiTV is an eclectic free service that seemingly hosts whatever they can get hold of, aided by deals with MGM and Lionsgate.

It leads to some strange juxtapositions: George Melies's Le Voyage dans la Lune (1903) rubs shoulders with 1977 Italian gore-fest Suspiria, and a recent documentary about cult hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse.

It also has a specific "Not on Netflix" spot, currently featuring Southern Comfort, a 2001 documentary which made waves at the Sundance Festival, about a transgender man who died of ovarian cancer after more than a dozen doctors refused to treat him.

Cost: Free (supported by advertising)

Website: tubitv.com

What to watch first: Little Shop of Horrors (1960). Roger Corman's black comedy about a flower salesman who makes a Faustian pact with a man-eating plant is a must-see classic, despite being filmed in just two days. There's a brilliant cameo from Jack Nicholson as a sadistic dentist.

The University of South Carolina Roach Cam

In December 1993, The University of South Carolina began broadcasting a live stream of its Madagascar hissing cockroaches out to the world. It's still going.

Much has changed since 1993. In this age of endless choice and instant gratification, the Roach Cam may be the perfect solution to your streaming woes. Paralysed by indecision?

Don't be. There's only one option here. Worried about slow buffering? Worry no more!

The Roach Cam serves up a series of static images, rather than a video-feed. Just refresh the page every five minutes to enjoy a slightly different snapshot of the creepy-crawlies.

What to watch first: It's roaches or nothing, folks.

Website: tinyurl.com/roachcam

Cost: Free, if you can stomach it.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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