Documentaries are a powerful tool for learning and exploration. Whether you’re interested in science, history, or current events, there’s a documentary out there that can provide insight and perspective. Fortunately, there are many streaming sites and apps that offer a wide range of documentaries, both for free and through paid subscriptions. In this article, we’ll explore some of the top documentary platforms available and help you discover new and fascinating content to watch.
Netflix, Inc. is an American subscription video on-demand over-the-top streaming service and production company based in Los Gatos, California. Founded in 1997 by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in Scotts Valley, California, it offers a film and television series library through distribution deals as well as its own productions, known as Netflix Originals.
As of January 2023, Netflix had over 230 million subscribers worldwide, including 74.3 million in the United States and Canada; 76.7 million in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 41.7 million in Latin America and 38 million in the Asia-Pacific region. It is available worldwide aside from Mainland China, Syria, North Korea, and Russia. Netflix has played a prominent role in independent film distribution, and it is a member of the Motion Picture Association.
Netflix can be accessed via web browsers or via application software installed on smart TVs, set-top boxes connected to televisions, tablet computers, smartphones, digital media players, Blu-ray players, video game consoles and virtual reality headsets on the list of Netflix-compatible devices. It is available in 4K resolution. In the United States, the company provided Digital Video Disc (DVD) and Blu-ray rentals delivered individually via the United States Postal Service from regional warehouses.Netflix initially both sold and rented DVDs by mail, but the sales were eliminated within a year to focus on the DVD rental business. In 2007, Netflix introduced streaming media and video on demand. The company expanded to Canada in 2010, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean. Netflix entered the film and television production industry in 2013, debuting its first series House of Cards. In January 2016, it expanded to an additional 130 countries and then operated in 190 countries.
The company is ranked 115th on the Fortune 500 and 219th on the Forbes Global 2000. It is the second largest entertainment/media company by market capitalization as of February 2022. In 2021, Netflix was ranked as the eighth-most trusted brand globally by Morning Consult. During the 2010s, Netflix was the top-performing stock in the S&P 500 stock market index, with a total return of 3,693%.Netflix is headquartered in Los Gatos, California, in Santa Clara County, with the two CEOs, Greg Peters and Ted Sarandos, split between Los Gatos and Los Angeles, respectively. It also operates international offices in Asia, Europe and Latin America including in Canada, France, Brazil, the Netherlands, India, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea and the United Kingdom. The company has production hubs in Los Angeles, Albuquerque, London, Madrid, Vancouver and Toronto. Compared to other distributors, Netflix pays more for TV shows up front, but keeps more “upside” (i.e. future revenue opportunities from possible syndication, merchandising, etc.) on big hits.
Watch Full-Length Documentaries Online for Free. Top Documentary Films
Hulu is an American subscription video on demand over the top streaming service owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company and Comcast.
Hulu was initially established as a joint venture between News Corporation and NBC Universal, Providence Equity Partners, and later The Walt Disney Company, serving as an aggregation of recent episodes of television series from their respective television networks. In 2010, Hulu became the first streaming service to add “Plus” to its name when it launched a subscription service, initially branded as Hulu Plus, which featured full seasons of programs from the companies and other partners, and undelayed access to new episodes. In 2017, the company launched Hulu with Live TV—an over-the-top IPTV service featuring linear television channels. As of the third quarter of 2021, Hulu has 42.8 million subscribers.
iTunes for Windows
With iTunes for Windows, you can manage your entire media collection in one place. iTunes can be used as both a music store and a media player. Once it has been installed in the device, users must create an Apple ID to purchase music. If users have pre-existing media files, they can be added to iTunes’ library to be played anytime.
The Internet Archive is an American digital library with the stated mission of “universal access to all knowledge”. It provides free public access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, software applications/games, music, movies/videos, moving images, and millions of books. In addition to its archiving function, the Archive is an activist organization, advocating a free and open Internet. As of May 7, 2022, the Internet Archive holds over 35 million books and texts, 7.9 million movies, videos and TV shows, 842 thousand software programs, 14 million audio files, 4 million images, 2.4 million TV clips, 237 thousand concerts, and over 682 billion web pages in the Wayback Machine.
The Internet Archive allows the public to upload and download digital material to its data cluster, but the bulk of its data is collected automatically by its web crawlers, which work to preserve as much of the public web as possible. Its web archive, the Wayback Machine, contains hundreds of billions of web captures. The Archive also oversees one of the world’s largest book digitization projects.
Vimeo, Inc. is an American video hosting, sharing, and services platform provider headquartered in New York City. Vimeo focuses on the delivery of high-definition video across a range of devices. Vimeo’s business model is through software as a service (SaaS). They derive revenue by providing subscription plans for businesses and video content producers. Vimeo provides its subscribers with tools for video creation, editing, and broadcasting, enterprise software solutions, as well as the means for video professionals to connect with clients and other professionals. As of December 2021, the site has 260 million users, with around 1.6 million subscribers to its services.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video, also known simply as Prime Video, is an American subscription video on-demand over-the-top streaming and rental service of Amazon offered as a standalone service or as part of Amazon’s Prime subscription. The service primarily distributes films and television series produced by Amazon Studios and MGM Holdings or licensed to Amazon, as Amazon Originals, with the service also hosting content from other providers, content add-ons, live sporting events, and video rental and purchasing services.
Operating worldwide, the service may require a full Prime subscription to be accessed. In countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany, the service can be accessed without a full Prime subscription, whereas in Australia, Canada, France, India, Turkey, and Italy, it can only be accessed through a dedicated website. Prime Video additionally offers a content add-on service in the form of channels, called Amazon Channels, or Prime Video Channels, which allow users to subscribe to additional video subscription services from other content providers within Prime Video.Launched on September 7, 2006, as Amazon Unbox in the United States, the service grew with an expanding library, and added the Prime Video membership upon the development of the Prime subscription. It was then renamed as Amazon Instant Video on Demand. After acquiring the UK-based streaming and DVD-by-mail service LoveFilm in 2011, Prime Video was added to the Prime subscription in the United Kingdom, Germany and Austria in 2014, available on a monthly subscription of £/€7.99 per month, continuing the plan of LoveFilm Instant. The service was previously available in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden in 2012, but was discontinued in 2013. On April 18, 2016, Amazon split Prime Video from Amazon Prime in the US for $8.99 per month.On December 14, 2016, Prime Video launched worldwide (except for Mainland China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria) expanding its reach beyond the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, and Japan. Among the new territories, the service was included with Prime in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Turkey and Spain, while for all other countries, it was made available for a monthly promotional price of $/€2.99 per month for the first six months and $/€5.99 per month thereafter.
Discovery+ (pronounced “Discovery Plus”; stylized as discovery+) is an American streaming service owned by Warner Bros. Discovery. The service focuses on factual programming drawn from the libraries of Discovery’s main channel brands, as well as original series (including spin-offs of programs from Discovery’s networks), and other acquired content.
It was first launched in India on March 23, 2020. It launched in the United States on January 4, 2021, and replaced Discovery’s Dplay and Eurosport Player services in Europe the next day. As of March 31, 2022, Discovery+ has 24 million subscribers.Discovery+ became a sister service to WarnerMedia’s HBO Max following their merger in April 2022. The two services are expected to merge in spring 2023.
Mubi (; stylized as MUBI; The Auteurs before 2010) is a global curated film streaming platform, production company and film distributor. Mubi produces and theatrically distributes films by emerging and established filmmakers, which are exclusively available on its platform. Additionally, it publishes Notebook, a film criticism and news publication, and provides weekly cinema tickets to selected new-release films through Mubi Go.
Mubi’s streaming platform is available in over 190 countries on the web, Android TV, Chromecast, Roku devices, PlayStation, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and LG and Samsung Smart TVs, as well as on mobile devices including iPhone, iPad and Android.
Crackle, formerly named Grouper and Sony Crackle, is an American video streaming service founded in 2004. The service was purchased by Sony Pictures in 2006 and was renamed as Crackle. In 2018, the name was changed to Sony Crackle. Eric Berger served as the general manager of Crackle from 2008 to 2019. Sony sold a majority stake to Chicken Soup for the Soul in March 2019, and the name was changed back to Crackle. As of January 2022, Crackle has about 40 million monthly active users.
The Curiosity Stream (legally CuriosityStream Inc.), also known as the Curiosity Channel, is an American media company and subscription video streaming service that offers documentary programming including films, series, and TV shows. It was launched in 2015 by the founder of the Discovery Channel, John S. Hendricks. As of 2021, it was reported to have approximately 20 million subscribers worldwide across its direct and bundled platforms.Curiosity Stream produces original documentaries and series including Royals: Keeping the Crown, The History of Home, Miniverse, Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places, David Attenborough’s Light on Earth, and Deep Time History; and additionally features content from producers such as the BBC and NHK.
Doc Alliance Films
The Doc Alliance is a creative partnership of seven European documentary film festivals, including: CPH:DOX in Copenhagen; Doclisboa; Docs Against Gravity FF; DOK Leipzig; Marseille Festival of Documentary Film; Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival; and Visions du Réel Nyon. The organisation is based in Prague and was founded in 2008, with the aim of promoting the documentary genre. It is financially supported by the European Union’s Creative Europe programme, Czech Filmfund and the Czech Ministry of Culture. Its slogan is “the New Deal for Feature Documentaries”.
DocsOnline is dedicated to help you learn about the world we live in. To optimize the learning potential of our catalog, we are constantly curating the best documentaries and provide context in the form of facts and figures, well-researched text, interviews, speeches and debates. When browsing our website, all these additional elements are nicely categorized as debate, excerpt, speech, or interview.
A documentary is a fact-based (non-fictional) film that describes certain aspects of reality. Usably, this kind of film does not employ professional actors, with the notable exception within the genre “Docudrama”.
The “real” documentary is characterized through its journalistic-scientific research and it strives to adhere to known facts. The presentation of visual images and also the style of the narrator, try to present the truth, without personal statements or distortion of reality.
Films For Action
Films For Action is a library for people who want to change the world. They aim to empower citizens with the knowledge and perspectives essential to creating a more compassionate, just, regenerative, and democratic society.
Free Documentary is dedicated to bringing high-class documentaries to you on YouTube for free. With the latest camera equipment used by well-known filmmakers working for famous production studios. You will see fascinating shots from the deep seas and up in the air, capturing great stories and pictures from everything our beautiful and interesting planet has to offer.
GuideDoc is a global online streaming and distributing service for documentary films, founded by Víctor Correal in Barcelona, Spain.GuideDoc started in 2014 with 20 documentaries; many these, such as the 2009 Sins of My Father and Skateistan: To Live and Skate Kabul, Little World (2012) and I Am Breathing (2013) achieved critical acclaim. As of January 2019, the site had over 400 documentaries, all of which have subtitles in both English and Spanish. The service works as a subscription video and TV on-demand platform for several devices.
Home Box Office (HBO) is an American pay television network, which is the flagship property of namesake parent subsidiary Home Box Office, Inc., itself a unit owned by Warner Bros. Discovery. The overall Home Box Office business unit is based at Warner Bros. Discovery’s corporate headquarters inside 30 Hudson Yards in Manhattan’s West Side district. Programming featured on the network consists primarily of theatrically released motion pictures and original television programs as well as made-for-cable movies, documentaries, occasional comedy and concert specials, and periodic interstitial programs (consisting of short films and making-of documentaries).
HBO is the oldest and longest continuously operating subscription television service in the United States. HBO pioneered modern pay television upon its launch on November 8, 1972: it was the first television service to be directly transmitted and distributed to individual cable television systems, and was the conceptual blueprint for the “premium channel,” pay television services sold to subscribers for an extra monthly fee that do not accept traditional advertising and present their programming without editing for objectionable material. It eventually became the first television channel in the world to begin transmitting via satellite—expanding the growing regional pay service, originally available to cable and multipoint distribution service (MDS) providers in the northern Mid-Atlantic and southern New England, into a national television network—in September 1975, and, alongside sister channel Cinemax, was among the first two American pay television services to offer complimentary multiplexed channels in August 1991.
The network operates seven 24-hour, linear multiplex channels as well as a traditional subscription video on demand platform (HBO On Demand) and its content is the centerpiece of HBO Max, an expanded streaming platform operated separately from but sharing management with Home Box Office, Inc., which also includes original programming produced exclusively for the service and content from other Warner Bros. Discovery properties. The HBO linear channels are not presently accessible on HBO Max, but continue to be available to existing subscribers of traditional and virtual pay television providers (including Hulu and YouTube TV, which also sell their HBO add-ons independently of their respective live TV tiers).As of September 2018, HBO’s programming was available to approximately 35.656 million U.S. households that had a subscription to a multichannel television provider (34.939 million of which receive HBO’s primary channel at minimum), giving it the largest subscriber total of any American premium channel. (From 2006 to 2018 , this distinction was held by Starz Encore—currently owned by Lionsgate subsidiary Starz Inc.—which, according to February 2015 Nielsen estimates, had 40.54 million pay subscribers vs. the 35.8 million subscribers that HBO had at the time.) In addition to its U.S. subscriber base, HBO distributes its programming content in at least 151 countries worldwide to, as of 2018, an estimated 140 million cumulative subscribers.
HISTORY Channel brings you thousands of documentaries and series exploring the events and people that shaped our world, from ancient empires to modern warfare. Stream now commercial free.
Discover the best curated indie documentaries & creators on Youtube
Enjoy Thoughtful Entertainment Stream thousands of films for free, thanks to the generous support of your public library or university.
Here at MagellanTV, it’s our mission to bring you the finest documentaries from around the world. We believe in the power of telling real stories that have defined the human experience and point the way to the future. We call it: Television Worth Watching.
If you’re like us, you feel the thrill of a great story, well told. You crave the powerful drama of history, the excitement of scientific discovery, and the awe-inspiring beauty of the natural world. You know that television should be both entertaining and smart. That’s why we continually scour the globe for documentaries with the most dramatic imagery, most cutting-edge subjects, and most authentic insights from the world’s top historians, scientists, and explorers.
National Film Board of Canada
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB; French: Office national du film du Canada (ONF)) is Canada’s public film and digital media producer and distributor. An agency of the Government of Canada, the NFB produces and distributes documentary films, animation, web documentaries, and alternative dramas. In total, the NFB has produced over 13,000 productions since its inception, which have won over 5,000 awards. The NFB reports to the Parliament of Canada through the Minister of Canadian Heritage. It has bilingual production programs and branches in English and French, including multicultural-related documentaries.
Nebula is the home of smart, thoughtful videos, podcasts, and classes from your favorite creators. A place for experimentation and exploration, with exclusive originals, bonus content, and no ads in sight.
MIT Open Docubase
Docubase is a place of discovery where you can immerse yourself in the playlists and projects; unearth new work, explore new techniques, and find people who are pioneering new storytelling.
With the help of an unprecedented collaborative effort by eight of the most noteworthy, independent film distribution companies in the U.S., Docuseek, LLC launched an innovative, new, subscription video-on-demand service, OVID.tv.
OVID.tv will provide North American viewers with access to thousands of documentaries, independent films, and notable works of international cinema, largely unavailable on any other platform.
PBS and our member stations are America’s largest classroom, the nation’s largest stage for the arts and a trusted window to the world. In addition, PBS’s educational media helps prepare children for success in school and opens up the world to them in an age-appropriate way.
Of movies, shows, music, and well, all things entertainment. So much so that we built an app that brings it all together—streaming services, personal media, ratings and watch lists. As beautiful as it is easy-to-use, Plex gives fans everywhere a way to discover, save, and enjoy the entertainment they love the most.
Pluto TV is a free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) service owned and operated by the Paramount Streaming division of Paramount Global.Co-founded by Tom Ryan, Ilya Pozin and Nick Grouf in 2013 and based in Los Angeles, California, in the United States, and parts of the rest of the Americas, and Europe, it carries advertising-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) content, as well as linear, internet television channels. The service’s revenue is generated from video advertisements seen during programming within commercial breaks structured similarly to those found on conventional television.Pluto TV licenses its content directly from providers; as of March 2020, it had deals with 170 content partners providing more than 250 channels and 100,000 unique hours worth of programming. Its content is available via its website and mobile apps on Android and iOS operating systems. In January 2022, the service reached a total of 64 million monthly active users. In April 2022, Pluto TV reached 68 million monthly active users. In July 2022, Pluto TV reached 69.9 million monthly active users. As of January 2023, Pluto TV has a total of 79 million monthly active users.
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Documentary channel RT Doc joined the RT news family in 2011. Since then, RT Doc has produced and broadcasted more than 500 films — about private struggles and global milestones, the human soul and expanses of nature, tales from the past and events unfolding right before our eyes.
The Documentary Network
Explore the world beyond headlines. Watch amazing videos and get new insights and ideas. Subscribe! Want your film on The Documentary Network? Other questions? Tweet to @Documentary or drop us a line!
Whether it’s reporting on conflicts abroad and political divisions at home, or covering the latest style trends and scientific developments, Times Video journalists provide a revealing and unforgettable view of the world.
Top Documentary Films
Since January 2007, TDF has been curating awesome documentaries and it’s been a host to a vibrant community of people who’re making this place even more interesting.
Obviously the content here is created with a passion for documentary films and the site is a valuable resource for those with an interest in that particular genre. It also tries to help the independent documentary filmmakers to promote their films.
Tubi is an American over-the-top content platform and ad-supported streaming service owned by Fox Corporation. The service was launched on April 1, 2014, and is based in Los Angeles, California. In January 2021, Tubi reached 33 million monthly active users. As of January 2023, Tubi has 64 million monthly active users.
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Enlightening commentary, authoritative advice, and unique stories you won’t find anywhere else. Our immersive and ground-breaking storytelling has changed the way people think about culture, crime, art, parties, fashion, protest, the internet and other subjects that don’t even have names yet. Browse the library and discover corners of the world you never knew existed.