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These days, there are so many ways to watch video content online that choosing between them can be a challenge. What’s more, not all content providers manage to face the fierce competition, forcing them to shut down and make their users look for alternatives.
That’s exactly what happened to Babelgum, a free-to-view internet television platform that stopped providing online content just two years after its initial release. In this article, we explain what Babelgum was and describe multiple alternatives that you can use right now to watch TV shows and other forms of video over the internet.
Babelgum was a free-to-view internet television platform created by Silvio Scaglia, an Italian telecoms entrepreneur who’s also known for Fastweb, an Italian telecommunications company that’s now fully owned by Swisscom.
The goal was to provide free, on-demand TV content to viewers over the internet as an alternative to traditional over-the-air and cable television services. The first version of the service was presented to the public on March 7, 2007, and it advertised an immersive viewing experience and visual quality of traditional television.
To promote the service, Silvio Scaglia launched the Babelgum Online Film Festival and the Babelgum Music Video Awards. The former was dedicated to independent movies, while the latter focused on music videos from unsigned artists. Neither of these two projects gained much traction because most artists at the time were confused by their value proposition.
Just two years after the initial release of Babelgum, the company announced that its decision to downsize by closing its Nice office and Dublin HQ. As Babelgum was experiencing serious financial difficulties, YouTube was gaining massive tracking, attracting viewers and content creators from around the world by offering a completely unique experience that encouraged independent content creation and sharing.
While Babelgum also offered some social features, such as the ability to embed videos on websites and share them on social news sites, they didn’t evolve nearly as quickly as they needed to compete with YouTube. What’s more, Babelgum decided to abandon its own proprietary peer-to-peer streaming technology in favor of Flash, which required users to have a bandwidth of at least 450 kbit/s.
The last nail in Babelgum’s coffin was the arrest of its creator, who was jailed and charged in Italy on charges of being involved in a 2-billion-euro money-laundering scheme. While the charges were not related to Babelgum itself, they were understandably enough to convince all investors to
For these and other reasons, Babelgum stopped offering its services not too long after the arrest. The good news is that a lot has changed since 2007, and viewers who are interested in on-demand content now have a large number of options to choose from.
Let’s take a closer look at the top 5 alternatives to Babelgum that offer a wide variety of content over the internet to viewers from around the world.
YouTube may have started as a platform for independent content creators, but it has become something so much more than that. Today, you would be hard-pressed to find a major music label that doesn’t publish music videos on YouTube, and there’s also no shortage of full-length movies, documentaries, and entire TV show episodes.
YouTube is free, supported by ads, but you can subscribe to YouTube Premium to enjoy all content without ads. Besides an ad-free viewing experience, YouTube Premium also unlocks the ability to download videos for offline playback, which comes in handy when commuting to work or traveling abroad.
Netflix is by far the most recognizable streaming service today. It was founded a decade before Babelgum as a DVD and Blu-ray rental business, but it pivoted in 2007 to online streaming, a decision that has made it the multi-billion-dollar company it is today.
In addition to thousands of movies and TV shows produced by the likes of Warner Bros., 20th Century Studios, and Universal Pictures, Netflix is the home of many original series and films, called Netflix Originals. Shows like Altered Carbon, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, BoJack Horseman, Stranger Things, or Orange is the New Black are all created by Netflix for Netflix subscribers, and they’ve been praised by critics from around the world.
Amazon Prime Video is a great Babelgum alternative for existing Amazon Prime customers who would rather not spend money on yet another subscription service. Amazon Prime Video offers third-party movies and TV shows as well as its own original programming, and it’s available worldwide except for Mainland China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria.
Amazon Prime Video works on all devices, and users can download content for offline playback with a simple click. A free trial is available to all new subscribers, and there are absolutely no hoops to jump through if you decide to cancel your membership.
Launched in November 2019, Disney+ is a new streaming service and a fantastic alternative to Babelgum for fans of Disney movies and younger viewers in general. Disney+ provides access to films and television series produced by The Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Television, such as Star Wars, Home Alone, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and many others.
At the time of writing this article, the service is available only in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, India, and select European countries. Further expansions are planned for Europe and Latin America in the near future, and the rest of the world should come soon after that.
If you’re a fan of original series from HBO, such as the Game of Thrones, The Wire, The Sopranos, or Westworld, then you should take a look at HBO Max, a subscription service that provides convenient access to just about everything HBO has to offer.
The service launched in May 2020, and it took it only a few months to garner millions of subscribers. In addition to its own content, HBO Max also offers movies and shows from many different third-party content providers, including Adult Swim, Studio Ghibli, Lionsgate, and Sony Pictures, just to name a few.
What’s great about the Babelgum alternatives described in this article is that most offer free trials to first-time users. All you need to start a free trial is a user account and a credit card. As long as you remember to cancel your subscription before the trial period is over, you won’t be charged anything.
Sure, free trials don’t last for a very long time, but you can start another one as soon as the current one ends. And if you live with other family members or roommates, there’s nothing stopping you from creating multiple accounts to start multiple free trials of the same subscription service.
For example, Netflix gives all new users a one-month-long free trial, and Amazon Prime Video does the same. As such, three roommates can theoretically enjoy half a year of the best video content the world has to offer without spending a single dollar, and that’s not a bad deal at all.