10 subscription services to fill your Android phone with entertainment

Books, magazines, anime, and more: all-you-can-consume subscriptions beyond Netflix and Spotify.

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Media smorgasbord

Netflix and Hulu rule the world of streaming video subscriptions, and when it comes to music, Spotify, Google Play Music, and Rdio are well-known options—and Apple Music is on its way to Android, too. But there are many more unlimited streaming media services out there with Android apps, and it’s not just movies, TV, and tunes.

Unlimited services are also available for digital books, magazines, audiobooks, comic books, and graphic novels, plus there are niche options that dig deep into things like anime, children’s edutainment, indie films, and higher-quality music streaming. Looking to save big each month by paying a little bit for unlimited media access? Here are 10 more services that might do the trick.

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Kindle Unlimited

True, Amazon’s Kindle service might be the best storefront for snagging individual books on your Android device, but thanks to the company’s Kindle Unlimited service, it’s also a swell place to stock up on loads of all-you-can-read books—some of which have audiobook options included, as well.

Amazon offers more than 1.1 million books to read with your $10/month subscription plan—not included in a Prime membership, by the way—which you can browse within the Kindle app’s storefront and download and read as desired. The selection is heavily loaded with indie, self-published stuff rather than best-sellers; big-name new releases aren’t really in the mix here. But for voracious readers, Kindle Unlimited has plenty on offer.

Amazon Kindle (Free)

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Sesame Street Go

Sesame Street is an invaluable resource for kids and parents alike, and if your tykes are fans of the long-running television series, then Sesame Street Go may be well worth the investment. True, you can find episodes on YouTube and the PBS Kids app, but Sesame Street Go delivers a much wider selection of video content, along with playable games. 

For $4/month, you’ll gain access to 11 full seasons of the show, along with music videos, parody clips, and some classic content. And the games are all educational in nature—like a basketball game with Big Bird that’s really about identifying numbers. It’s all ad-free and easy to navigate, plus the content itself is certainly excellent.

Sesame Street Go (Free)

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Marvel Unlimited

For comic book aficionados, Marvel Unlimited is an incredible service: it offers access to more than 17,000 back issues for just $10/month (or $70/year). Newer stuff is regularly added six months after release—so it won’t necessarily replace Comixology’s Comics app or your weekly comic book store visits—while the older archives are steadily expanded over time.

It’s the perfect way to catch up on an ongoing series without spending big on trade paperbacks, as well as go back and read a classic X-Men or Spider-Man storyline. The reading experience is totally solid (and much improved since when Unlimited launched), and you can save issues for offline reading. True, it’s only Marvel books—but it surely can’t be long before DC and Image get comparable services in gear. 

Marvel Unlimited (Free)

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CrunchyRoll

If you love Japanese anime and manga, CrunchyRoll is essential. The service actually spans two separate apps—one for anime and live-action drama series, and another for the manga (comics)—but the membership is the same. You can access some content for free, however video is shown in standard definition and everything is peppered with considerable advertising. 

But pay the $7/month for a premium subscription and you’ll gain access to the hundreds upon hundreds of series, all in HD quality and with new episodes available as soon as an hour after they air in Japan. Whether you’re a Naruto Shippuden or One Piece die-hard or want to poke around Japan’s latest animated sensations, CrunchyRoll can steer you right.

CrunchyRoll – Anime and Drama (Free) and CrunchyRoll Manga (Free)

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Tidal

Tidal has become a lot better known since Jay-Z and pals acquired and relaunched the service earlier this year, bringing on top musicians to extoll its artistic integrity over Spotify—but how does this still-underdog service really compare to its streaming music rivals? 

Sure, Tidal has the huge catalog and familiar $10/month base plan for typical-quality streaming, but its biggest differentiator is high-res, lossless audio: the ability to stream CD-quality music. For that optional privilege, you’ll pay $20/month instead—but there is a noticeable difference, even if you don’t have ritzy studio headphones or high-end speakers. True, lossless streaming soaks up a ton of bandwidth; so don’t do it over LTE. But if quality trumps value, then Tidal might hook you.

Tidal (Free)

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Next Issue

Next Issue is the highest-profile unlimited magazine subscription service on the Play Store, delivering access to more than 140 top magazines, including current and back issues. The reading experience is solid, and there’s decent variety in the selection—but what makes Next Issue more worthwhile than other, similar apps?

The service puts its focus on better-known, name-brand magazines, so while the selection is smaller than something like Readly, you’ve probably heard of a larger percentage of the magazines here. And Next Issue has publications like Wired, Sports Illustrated, and Entertainment Weekly that Readly is noticeably missing. Eight bucks a month probably won’t even buy you two magazine issues these days, but it’ll get you unlimited access in Next Issue.

Next Issue Magazines (Free)

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Readly

Readly is very similar in approach to Next Issue, and we already noted some of its weaknesses in the previous slide—but while Readly might feel less curated and focused, it certainly has a lot of different magazines to dig into. We’re talking 800+ publications, offering current and back issues across a wider spread of niche and international magazines. 

Quantity is the selling point, but there’s quality here too. More importantly, there’s diversity, which means I can geek out on UK entertainment magazines, or flip through tabloids from around the world. Freely browsing the listings can be frustrating, considering the enormous wealth of options, and Readly doesn’t has as many big-name American magazines in the mix. But if you love reading all sorts of magazines, the $10/month fee is easily justified.

Readly (Free)

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Fandor

True, Netflix is all that many people need for their movie-streaming needs, and it has a great selection of documentaries and solid indie options. But if you’re solely into flicks that fall outside of the mainstream, you might find a more compelling selection within Fandor.

Fandor gives off the feeling of being a handpicked selection of interesting films—spaning decades, genres, and cultures—with more than 6,000 movies available as of this writing. Fans of the Criterion Collection will find rotating featured films, plus themed “journeys” help you find like-minded films, and Fandor offers a heads-up on what’s coming and when. It’s slightly pricier than Netflix, at $10/month (although the $90/year plan is cheaper), but film enthusiasts may adore it.

Fandor (Free)

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Scribd

Into a diverse array of reading material? Scribd stands out for offering a few different types of media to dig into. Like Kindle Unlimited, Scribd also has more than one million titles—but while a large chunk of that is books, the tally also includes graphic novels and comics from multiple publishers, as well as audiobooks.

Not every audiobook is included with the unlimited plan, but your $9/month also gets you one credit to use towards a more recent, higher-profile audiobook. There are plenty of standard books, as well, and while the graphic novel selection overlaps with Marvel Unlimited, you’ll also find books from IDW, Valiant, and Kaboom, as well as indie offerings. Other services might be stronger in certain respects, but Scribd has the “something for everyone” theme down pat.

Scribd (Free)

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Vessel

Vessel has a rather surprising approach to siphoning viewers away from YouTube: show a lot of the same videos, but charge viewers money to watch them. Wait… there’s more to it, of course. Vessel makes its $3/month membership seem appealing by recruiting some top Internet video makers and other entertainment companies to exclusively release videos early on the service.

Paying to get content a few days early won’t appeal to everyone—or all that many viewers overall, we imagine. But your subscription gets you early access to music videos from Universal Music, plus days-early clips from the likes of Rhett & Link and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. If you’re a big fan of YouTube stars, Vessel might bring their videos to you even sooner (for a price).

Vessel (Free)