Sundance Now is a premium on-demand streaming service with a unique content catalog. Rather than take a Netflix-like approach of appealing to everyone, Sundance Now caters to audiences who appreciate thoughtful, well-produced films, documentaries and TV shows. Flixed’s Sundance Now review will help you decide if this streaming service is right for you.
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Sundance Now followed a convoluted path that begins with the Sundance Film Festival. Actor Robert Redford created the annual event to showcase independent filmmakers and give them access to film distributors. It is one of the venues where rising talents first make their mark. In the mid-90s, Redford wanted to broaden access to these innovative productions and created the Sundance Channel, later renamed SundanceTV, in partnership with Showtime.
AMC Networks bought the cable channel in 2008 and shortly afterward launched a video-on-demand service called SundanceNow. Fans of indie films could rent titles in the same way they could rent mainstream movies from iTunes. SundanceNow Doc Club was a spinoff of SundanceNow that let people subscribe for unlimited access to documentaries.
In 2016, AMC Networks combined the two services to create today’s Sundance Now dedicated to ”authentic, emotionally moving stories told from unexpected global perspectives.” The streaming service secures exclusive distribution deals for high-quality content on the international market. Increasingly, Sundance Now is producing its own original content.
Beginning with the critically-acclaimed dramedy This Close in 2018 and continuing with the popular hit A Discovery of Witches, Sundance Now has established a unique position in the streaming market.
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If you like the kind of content Sundance Now specializes in, then you may want to consider adding it to your streaming portfolio. The company sources films, documentaries and TV shows that have high production standards and tell compelling stories. In addition, the growing catalog of original content has garnered awards, critical success and popularity with subscribers. Of course, if the king of content Sundance Now specializes in doesn’t do anything for you then you’re better off with another streaming service.
From a technical standpoint, Sundance Now offers solid but not comprehensive device support. There is a workaround, but that involves subscribing through Amazon Prime Video which has limitations of its own. Having said that, Sundance Now does not appear to limit the number of simultaneous streams which makes it a very family-friendly streaming service.
Even when running on multiple devices, Sundance Now holds its own with stable high-definition (HD) video streams. However, the content is only available in standard definition (SD) or HD, as 4K resolution and high dynamic range (HDR) are not supported.
Minor issues aside, Sundance Now is an excellent choice for people who enjoy its kind of content.
The biggest limitation of Sundance Now — and its biggest strength — is that it does not appeal to everyone. You need to like the specific kind of content Sundance Now streams to even consider subscribing.
- High-quality content
- Low monthly and annual fees
- Easy sign-up and cancellation process
- Supports major streaming platforms
- Appeals to a limited audience
- No support for in-app cancellations
Sundance Now only has one subscription tier with no upgrade or expansion options to confuse the situation. For $6.99/month or $59.99/year, you get complete access to the full content library, all of which is ad-free. The annual plan represents a 28% savings over the monthly option. Although there are no other fees, Sundance Now does automatically add state and local taxes to your bill.
7-day free trial
$6.99 / month
1 simultaneous stream
The subscription rates are the same if you subscribe to Sundance Now through Apple, Roku, Google or Amazon. However, you will not be able to cancel your subscription through the Sundance Now website.
Free Trial and Renewing
New subscribers get 7 days to give Sundance Now a try. When you register, you must provide your credit card information. As soon as the trial expires, Sundance Now will charge you for the first month or the first year depending on which subscription option you chose.
For either option, your subscription will automatically renew at whatever the going rate is for the same option. Unlike many streaming services, Sundance Now is not in the habit of raising its prices every year. The rates the streaming service charges today are the same rates Sundance Now offered when it launched in 2016.
Beyond the United States, Sundance Now is also available in Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Subscription rates are similar to those in the United States, but will vary depending on exchange rates and the licensing costs of each country’s content catalog.
Sundance Now’s reputation among critics is growing. The streaming service has curated a respected collection of high-quality TV shows, films and documentaries. The Sundance Now series State of the Union earned 2019 Emmy Awards for the two lead actors, as well as the Primetime Emmy for Short Form Comedy or Drama Series.
Below are some of the shows available on Sundance Now.
State of the Union
Every week, Tom (Chris O’Dowd) and Louise (Rosamund Pike) go in for marriage counseling. Before heading into the session, they pop round to the local pub for a drink and to hash out their differences. The ten-minute episodes gradually reveal how the couple got together and what has been forcing them apart.
Set amidst the glamour of the French Côte d’Azur, this crime drama features Julia Stiles as the wife of a billionaire whose murder leads her into the French criminal underworld. Although critics’ reviews were mixed, all complimented the setting and cinematography. Stiles herself relished the chance to play a rising mafiosa.
A Discovery of Witches
This romance-fantasy tells the story of Diana Bishop, an academic who specializes in the history of alchemy. She also comes from a family of witches whose legacy Bishop prefers to deny. While reviewing an ancient manuscript Bishop unlocks a spell that drags her back into the world of witches, demons… and attractive vampires.
Sundance Now only supports SD and HD video streams. The app bases its video resolution on the quality of its internet connection. Streaming in 4K resolution or high dynamic range (HDR) video quality is not possible.
During Flixed’s review of Sundance Now, the streaming quality was consistent with no video artifacts or audio glitches.
Sundance Now’s portfolio of apps covers the most important streaming TV platforms, but it isn’t as comprehensive as competing streaming services. There is a workaround using Amazon Prime Video, but it imposes other limitations on your Sundance Now experience.
Sundance Now on Roku
The Sundance Now app in the Roku Channel Store only receives 3.1 stars from over 6,650 Roku device owners. Since Roku does not collect detailed reviews, there is no way to know exactly why that is, but the reviews in Amazon’s app store may be indicative.
Sundance Now on Fire TV Stick
Over 10,800 Amazon Fire TV device owners give the Sundance Now app an average rating of 4 stars. Some love it, some hate it, with many recent negative reviews complaining about buffering, poor customer support, and even unethical practices about subscriptions.
Sundance Now on Apple TV
Sundance Now has an app optimized for tvOS. Along with the mobile version, the Sundance Now app gets a respectable 4.5-star rating from Apple TV owners. Sundance Now can also be subscribed to through Apple TV Channels.
Sundance Now on iPhones and iPads
The iOS version of the Sundance Now app supports both iPhones and iPads, and it has a 4.1-star rating from 3,600 reviewers.
Sundance Now on Android Phones and Tablets
Android device owners seem to disagree with Apple device owners — which is nothing new. The average rating for the Sundance Now app in the Google Play Store is a lowly 2.7 stars from 1,780 reviews. Most recent reviews complain about the app freezing and how hard it is to cancel your subscription.
Sundance Now on Smart TVs
Sundance Now does not create dedicated apps for Smart TVs. However, televisions that are based on the Roku or Amazon Fire TV platforms should run the Sundance Now app.
Sundance Now on Desktops and Laptops
You can use most modern browsers to stream Sundance Now.
Sundance Now On Other Platforms
Sundance Now does not support any other streaming platforms. There is another option that will let you watch Sundance Now on other streaming platforms. When you subscribe to the Sundance Now Channel in Amazon Prime Video, you can use Amazon’s app to watch Sundance Now content.
In addition to the devices Sundance Now supports, the Amazon app runs on dozens of other platforms. Owners of Tivo digital video recorders or Android TV devices like the NVIDIA Shield can download the Prime Video app. More than a dozen makers of smart TVs also include Amazon’s app in their app store. Amazon also supports a wider range of game consoles from Sony and Microsoft.
Offline viewing is a convenient feature when traveling. Many services let you download content to their mobile apps so you can watch videos even when you have no internet connection.
Sundance Now is not one of those services.
However, if you subscribe to Sundance Now through Apple TV Channels, you can download shows for offline viewing.
Sundance Now offers two ways to get help: a knowledge base and direct email support. If your issue is something very specific, like a billing error, then you can open a support ticket by using a form on the company’s support site or emailing support directly.
If you have a more general question, you can try to find the answer in Sundance Now’s Knowledge Base. The articles cover the most frequently asked questions about how to get started, device support, and how to manage your account.
If you’ve looked at the Sundance Now content catalog and decided that these are the kinds of shows you like to watch, then you probably won’t be interested in canceling. But sometimes, like when you’re going on an extended vacation, canceling is necessary.
Fortunately, the process is fairly straightforward. When you enter the Sundance Now website’s My Account page, you’ll find a Membership Settings section. Selecting “Cancel Membership” takes you to a confirmation page where you get to make the final decision.
Keep in mind that this process only works through a desktop or mobile browser. You cannot cancel your Sundance Now subscription through the company’s apps. If you subscribe through one of the apps, you will have to go through that app store to cancel your subscription.
When you cancel your subscription, you do not get a refund of your unused time. That’s not much of a problem with a month-to-month subscription. However, you won’t get a refund if you cancel an annual subscription either. If you aren’t sure which payment term to get, your safest bet is to go month-to-month until you’re absolutely sure the annual plan is worth the risk.
Unlike services like Netflix or Hulu that want to appeal to everybody, Sundance Now is not out to capture all audiences. You have to like the kinds of shows and films Sundance Now curates to even consider subscribing. But if you do, then there’s a lot of value in this niche subscription service.
Minor quibbles include the poorly-updated state of the Sundance Now Knowledge Base and some gaps in device support. However, these issues will not matter to most people.
What will matter is the growing number of high-quality original and exclusive titles in Sundance Now’s catalog.