Every media streaming app likes to boast about being the best.
The competition for “best” is cutthroat by necessity, but there are only ever a few that come within the neighbourhood of it. Between licensing restrictions, internet speed limitations, and plain signal availability, providing quality streaming to regions in Southeast Asia can be frustrating. Trust me, I’d know.
Having subscribed to more than a handful of streaming apps and sites, it’s been a struggle to come across a worthwhile media library that isn’t: a) severely lacking in material, b) like a million seasons behind the current airing ones for series, c) replete with C- rip-offs of more popular titles; or d) an unholy trinity of all three.
Thanks to all the disappointment that comes with media streaming from legitimate apps and sites available to us here in the Philippines (and 8 if you’re not using VPNs), any modern-day Filipino can understand my thought process when I came across the FOX+ app.
“Oh, another one of those,” I’d thought to myself. “Hindi nga. Weh.” I told myself, here’s another disappointment.
I signed up for the 30-day trial anyway.
A little bit of context before I dive right in…
Fox+ is the official and recently-launched media streaming app for the FOX Movies channel on cable. The FOX Movies channel, for those who don’t know yet, was formerly known as Star Movies*.
I don’t actually own a TV, much less cable. But I’ve always enjoyed Star Movies’ title lineups whenever I’m staying at a hotel. (Trivia: I had to ask for help on how to turn the TV on.) There’s always something to watch, from romance to action to horror – especially horror, as I’m a pretty big fan of horror movies. Any channel that can provide me with The Guest during late night viewing will always get a 10/10 from me.
In fact, a quick look at the schedule for this week (July 3-9, 2017) has some really fun titles. The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, the North American adaptation of the novel of the same name, is on this week’s schedule. I’m giving this a particular mention, as TGWTDT is notably rated as NC-17. In this day and age of PG-13, it’s a type of movie that barely gets any time in theaters; let alone on television.
Other titles aren’t doing too bad, either – the lineup includes The Man Who Knew Infinity, a biographical drama based on the life of Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan; critical darling An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary featuring former US VP Al Gore’s efforts on global warming awareness; and Tom Hanks’ underappreciated spy thriller Bridge of Spies. (Tom Hanks! Spies!! What more do you want!!!)
Of course, drama is drama, and drama can be heavy – which is why I’m also glad to report that a proper third of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is well-represented in the schedule. This includes the Joe Wright-directed Captain America: The First Avenger, record-breaking The Avengers, and personal favorite Thor (Shakespear’ed to Asgard and back by theatre luminary Kenneth Branagh).
Marvel’s not your thing? There’s Jack Sparrow running for the World’s End (hehe). Eva Green being magical in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. And Matt Damon is a space pirate in the surprisingly as-close-to-scientifically-accurate-as-possible space jam The Martian.
If you wanna check the schedule out for yourself, it’s right here on their Facebook Page. On that note, wanna hear about another thing I like about the channel? A good two thirds of those titles I just mentioned are also available, right now, on their app.
Making the jump from the boob tube to the handhelds always comes with an adjustment period, though.
Let’s get the awkward and not-so-good parts out of the way first.
Unlike nearly every other streaming app, the Fox+ app doesn’t have a “resume from previous timestamp” option. I tested out the app with the second season of the (highly underrated) Outcast; I tapped out to plug in my charger, but when I pulled the app back up I was kicked back to the landing page.
There’s the usual issue of the media library being restricted to titles that the Fox Networks Group has licenses to. The app has a glaring lack of household titles outside of The Walking Dead, 24, and American Horror Story.
Surprisingly, though, that’s as far as my gripes go. Signing up for the free 30-day trial was already a dream – the app doesn’t ask for any financial details. At all. All you need to sign up is a working email address and you’re good to go.
This is particularly impressive for me because I loathe posting my card details online, preferring to avoid online transactions unless necessary.
Second – and this is what we’re here for – the media library content is legit.
It’s great. I’m so sold. James Bond is here. Star Wars is here. Katniss Everdeen is here. If your movie tastes run towards the more awards-inclined, then get a load of these titles: The Revenant, Room, Brooklyn, Super 8 and Sicario, and that’s just to name a few. Are you a TV buff? All seasons of The Americans – arguably the best TV show to air in the past decade and heir apparent to The Wire – is available. Aside from my personal favorite Outcast, campy horror romp Scream Queens is available. The Good Fight (sequel to the critically-acclaimed The Good Wife series), is here. Sons of Anarchy? Old Sam Crow’s covered. Even the controversial Taboo is available in all its bloody R-16 glory.
And I’m putting in a paragraph just for the horror section. Because the horror section is always the least tended to when it comes to streaming apps. The underrated The Gift is available on the app, as are Dark Places, Return to Sender, Lost River, and Before I Wake. The horror library isn’t as robust as the others, but compared to certain big-name apps currently available? It’s a lot meatier. I’d say it’s a good start.
To sum it up, if the app covers even just a fraction of the TV channel’s library, then it’s already miles ahead of the other apps like it. Give FOX+ a chance – it’s already a wonderful example of quality over quantity; a lesson a lot of other apps should learn from here on out.