VRV is like a nerd-centric version of Netflix. It rolls several different streaming sites into a glorious burrito of geeky video content. The original VRV lineup consisted of Crunchyroll, Funimation, Rooster Teeth, Cartoon Hangover, Shudder, Mondo, Tested, Geek & Sundry and Nerdist.
However, VRV has evolved significantly since its 2016 debut and has changed significantly since we first reviewed it in 2017. It now offers eight channels instead of nine: Boomerang, Cartoon Hangover, Crunchyroll, Hidive, Mondo, NickSplat, Rooster Teeth and VRV Select.
Has VRV successfully staked out a niche for itself? How has it changed since its debut? Read on to learn everything you need to know about this geek-centric video app.
VRV Vs. Netflix
Aside from the fact that VRV has more of a focus on geek culture compared to Netflix, the main difference between the two streaming platforms is the fact that only VRV offers free content. Unlike Netflix, VRV offers an abundance of ad-supported free videos to go with the premium videos that only paid subscribers can access.
On VRV you can surf through free anime, oddball animated comedies for adults and science shows. What you won’t find, however, is mainstream content like soap operas, rom-coms, documentaries, police procedurals and blockbuster movies.
VRV’s freemium plan makes trying VRV a risk-free proposition. If and when you decide you want to unlock more VRV titles, you can upgrade to a Premium subscription and dig into everything VRV has on the menu.
VRV Subscription Plans
The best subscription offer by far on VRV is the $9.99-per-month VRV Premium subscription. The plan removes all ads and gives you full access to all 8 VRV channels.
When get the Combo Pack, you automatically get a free Premium Crunchyroll account. This allows you to hop over to Crunchyroll and enjoy the latest digital manga comic books if you get bored of watching VRV videos.
If you’re only interested in a few of VRV’s channels, you can subscribe to any of them individually. Prices for single channels start at $2.99 and go up to $7.99.
Each channel offers free videos, but you have to pay to unlock “premium only” movies and shows.
VRV works on just about any platform. In addition to the VRV website, you can access VRV content via its Roku channel, Android and iOS apps.
How to Find the Free Stuff
If you’re strapped for cash or not sure you want to commit to a paid VRV plan yet, click the “close panel” button after you click a VRV channel to continue on for free videos.
Though it is somewhat annoying that VRV pushes you to upgrade to a paid plan at nearly every step of the way when you use the freemium version of VRV, the generous amount of little-known indie content contained on the site makes it well worth the hassle.
If you’re willing to put in the clicks, you can find plenty of free shows and movies.
Be forewarned: some of VRV’s free movies involve stories that are quite “whacked.”
Take, for example, Aachi and Ssipak – a movie about “two hoodlums who steal and resell addictive popsicles in a post-apocalyptic wasteland”.
Some movies on VRV are earmarked as “premium” and you can’t access them without paying for a subscription.
A number of VRV series are totally free and you can watch every single episode without subscribing to anything. Other series, however, try to reel you in with one free episode and then hit you with a paywall.
Exploring VRV’s Channels
VRV is 9 different streaming sites rolled into one platform. Each site has its own individual channel on VRV. The “VRV Select” channel contains curated picks from each of the 9 sites that provide content for VRV.
Let’s take an in-depth look at each VRV channel to find out what kind of videos you can expect to find in each one.
The Crunchyroll VRV channel is more beginner-friendly compared to the Crunchyroll website. For example, the Crunchyroll VRV channel has a section called “Starter Kit,” which contains anime classics like Naruto and Attack on Titan.
If you already have a subscription to Crunchyroll, you can link it to VRV via the settings menu. Just select LINK CRUNCHYROLL from the drop-down menu:
Then, click LINK and enter in your Crunchyroll credentials to import your Crunchyroll account data.
The Mondo channel appears to be a potpourri of imported animated shows and oddball animated comedies.
Via Mondo, you can find an animated show called Lastman. Lastman is about a down-on-his-luck boxer named Richard Aldana who gets drawn into a hidden world that’s full of magic and demons.
Lastman is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign. Fans of the French comic book version of Lastman pledged over €180,000 to turn Lastman into an animated series.
In addition to newly minted titles, there’s a world of older toons to explore on Mondo as well. After scrolling down a bit, I found a hilarious and weird cartoon variety show called Night Sweats.
According to its Wikipedia page, Night Sweats originally came out on the Canadian version of Adult Swim back in 2015.
Both Mondo and Cartoon Hangover are adult-oriented channels in the vein of Adult Swim. However, Cartoon Hangover seems a bit more “out there” compared to Mondo.
A good example of the wacky toons you can find via Cartoon Hangover is an animated show called Ape Escape. The plot of Ape Escape revolves around an evil genius named Specter. Specter’s plot to take over the world involves manipulating monkey brain waves via insidious “Pipo helmets.”
If you’re an Adventure Time fan, you may want to check out Bee and Puppycat – a series about a girl named Bee and her journeys through a hidden dimension called “Fishbowl Space.”
Bee and Puppycat is the brainchild of Natasha Allegri, the cartoonist best known for her storyboard work on Adventure Time.
Rooster Teeth is the web video production company responsible for the breakout web video hit Red vs. Blue. Red vs. Blue parodies the absurd nature of military life – and the absurd nature of life in general. Rooster Teeth co-founder Geoffrey Ramsey drew from his experience serving in the United States Army to create the dialog and storylines of Red vs. Blue.
According to a Wall Street Journal news story referenced on the Red vs. Blue Wikipedia page, San Francisco Film Society Director Graham Leggat once described Red vs. Blue as “truly as sophisticated as Samuel Beckett.”
In addition to Red vs. Blue, Rooster Teeth offers a variety of video content including gaming guides, talk shows, podcasts and behind-the-scenes clips featuring the Rooster Teeth production team.
VRV Select promotes the best content that VRV has to offer across each of its 9 channels.
The top spot on the channel when I checked it out was a show called HarmonQuest. In each episode of HarmonQuest, a group of comedians get together to play a tabletop RPG game. Portions of the game are animated in the style of The Ricky Gervais Show.
Guests players on the HarmonQuest have included former Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, Aubrey Plaza of Parks and Recreation and stand-up comedian Patton Oswalt.
Hidive filled in the void that Funimation left when VRV decided to terminate its partnership with the anime service. Like Funimation, Hidive’s speciality is dubbed anime. Its library isn’t quite as large as Funimation’s, but it does carry a range of popular titles including Bloom Into You, Legend of the Galactic Heroes and others.
In the summer of 2018, VRV got together with Nickelodeon to work out a deal to bring Nickelodeon’s most popular titles of the 90s to VRV. Titles available through NickSplat include AAAHH!!! Real Monsters, All That, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, CatDog, Clarissa Explains It All, Doug, Kenan & Kel, Legends of the Hidden Temple, Rocko’s Modern Life, The Angry Beavers and more.
VRV and Warner Media forged a partnership in late 2018, which brought classic cartoons from Warner-owned properties to VRV. These include classic titles like Scooby Doo, Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry as well as classic titles like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Channels that no longer exist on VRV
VRV dropped Nerdist on April 1st of 2019. The channel featured talk shows about board games, escape games, books, animated TV shows and other niche topics.
Geek & Sundry
Geek & Sundry was originally a YouTube channel started by actress Felicia Day. Day gained geek cred for her work on cult shows like Buffy the Vampire and Supernatural. Like Nerdist, Geek & Sundry was heavy on podcasts and news shows. The main difference between the two seemed to be that Geek & Sundry put more of an emphasis on video games. VRV dropped Geek & Sundry on the same day as Nerdist: April 1st of 2019.
Funimation is very similar to Crunchyroll, only it’s owned by Sony. Its content was similar as well, only it offered more dubbed content than subtitled content. Funimation and VRV parted ways on November 9th, 2018.
Like its name suggests, Shudder is all about horror. The Shudder vault contains little-known cult hits from previous decades as well as spine-tingling exclusive originals. VRV and Shudder discontinued their partnership on August 1st, 2019.
The Tested channel is all about animator, graphic designer, carpenter, projectionist, film developer, television presenter, set designer, toy designer and gallery owner Adam Savage. The channel was taken down on May 3rd of 2018, but some of Savage’s content is still available via VRV Select.
VRV Pros and Cons
Whether you buy a paid subscription or not, VRV is an excellent deal. Despite the fact that the freemium version of VRV is filled with messages that try to get you to subscribe at every turn, the wealth of free content available on the site makes it well worth exploring. If you do end up subscribing, you get a tremendous bang for your buck.
- Excellent value.
- Lots of rare and hard-to-find content.
- Content lists help you sort through the videos.
- Plenty of free content to explore.
- Customizable subscription plans.
- Good video quality.
- Roku, iOS and Android apps are available.
- Crunchyroll subscribers can import their account.
- By subscribing, you help support indie content creators.
- Plenty of kid-friendly content.
- There haven’t been any major price increases since VRV’s debut.
- The free version of VRV blasts you with constant messages to sign up for a paid account.
- Some anime series from Funimation are now no longer available.
If you ever find yourself staring at your computer screen with no idea of what to watch next, you way want to give VRV a spin.
VRV splits the difference between YouTube content and Netflix. Netflix has high quality shows, but the lacks alternative and free content that makes VRV appealing. YouTube’s democratic video rating system sometimes allows quality videos to get lost in the shuffle. VRV’s content curation team does a pretty good job of making sure the best videos appear where people can easily discover them.
Though the majority of VRV’s catalog is marketed as a geek-centric video hub, the range of content that’s actually available on VRV might surprise you. If you have an off-beat sense of humor or have even one nerdy bone in your body, you’ll likely find more than a few titles on VRV to enjoy.