Product Review: VRV (With Bonus Review!)
VRV caters to everything “geek”, offering a tent for various streaming services to gather under. Whether it’s worth ticket price to see the show will depend greatly on you.
Right now, the trend in streaming is service fragmentation. Disney left Netflix to make their own service. Cable broadcasters like CBS are offering exclusive apps rather than go through Hulu. Quite frankly, it sucks. The constant specter of Net Neutrality ending has providers eagerly gearing up to slice their products into small chunks so that they can charge you individually for them. It is interesting then that VRV is doing the opposite: it is gathering smaller streaming services together, and offering their products at a bundled price.
VRV is streaming service aggregator created by the Ellation group. They are accessible by their website; they also offer apps for Roku, Xbox, Playstation, Android, and iOS. I’ve tested the service on Xbox, Android, and Windows web browsers. It worked well on everything except Microsoft Edge, where it had issues loading video every once in awhile.
The interface for all three platforms was clean and easy to navigate. Going from one channel it another is easy, and there is a uniformity of layout for all of them. You can even search all of the channels from the homepage. The only knock is that browsing content is channel by channel, but all the rest of the design decisions mitigate that minor point.
The individual prices for each of the streaming services partnered with VRV vary wildly. Crunchyroll is $6.95/month, while Rooster Teeth is $4.99. Thankfully you can cut out all that silliness by subscribing to their Combo Pack, which allows you access to all their content for $9.95/month. The Combo Pack does have a 30 day trial period, so you can check it out before you commit.
As an umbrella service, VRV offers a decent variety of niche fare. Some of the more notable providers we’ve covered in other product reviews. A brief rundown of the channels at VRV are:
- Crunchyroll: Japanese Anime, usually subtitled. A great source for Korean live action as well.
- Funimation: Japanese Anime, often simulcast with their Japanese broadcast; they also have some Japanese live action movies.
- Rooster Teeth: Nerd culture including animated shorts, interviews, news, and comedy.
- Cartoon Hangover: Eclectic animated series, often a mix of cute and crude.
- Mondo: Animated series from outside of the US and Japan.
- Shudder: Horror films and series.
- Tested: A Tech and Engineering focused provider: Think Top Gear meets Myth Busters.
- Geek and Sundry: Gaming of all kinds, from table top to Dungeons and Dragons.
- Nerdist: Explainers and How To videos as well as discussion on issues ranging from Comic Books to Movie Visual Effects.
- MUBI: Niche Cinema as well as Festival films.
- CuriosityStream: Documentaries on STEM topics as well as history.
- VRV Select: In house exclusives, from movies to series.
While we’ve checked out content from providers that partner with VRV, I wanted to check out some of their exclusive content, so I queued up an epside of Harmon Quest.
Harmon Quest: Episode 1, Season 1
Harmon Quest is a live broadcast of a Dungeons and Dragons session interspersed with animated representations of the events being played out. Dan Harmon and his friends are the actors, with a different celebrity guest joining in each episode.
For the inaugural episode, Paul F. Tompkins of Mr. Show fame joined the motley crew. The comedic aspects of D&D played semi-seriously is certainly there, but the noticeable breaks in the action to ask the Dungeon Master questions kind of hampered the fun. The animation is funny, and is reminiscent of comedies like Bojack Horsemen or Big Mouth. I was entertained and intrigued, but couldn’t quite tell if I liked the constant fourth wall breaking.
VRV is an odd duck, so it might not seem to be your cup of tea at first blush. The content covers a lot of ground, from serious to seriously weird. Also of note is that some content is available free elsewhere. I watch the Nerdist show Because Science all the time… because it’s free on YouTube!
That being said, I like the concept and the execution of this product. If you already subscribe to one of the services, ponying up a few bucks more to get all of them is a strong value. The upside with VRV is fairly large as well. There is a lot of things to explore, and they seem to be adding partners all the time. When I first found VRV, I’m nearly certain MUBI and CuriosityStream weren’t under their umbrella.
With all the slicing and dicing of content these days, it’s refreshing to see someone trying to ADD value to their service in the streaming market. I’d recommend kicking the tires on VRV, if even just for the trial period.