Sundance is nothing short of a staple of American cable television. Ever since I was a kid, I remember watching classic movies and TV shows thanks to Sundance. Everything from The Andy Griffith Show to Saturday Night Fever … I could stumble upon it on Sundance (even if I was sometimes a little too young to fully appreciate the programming of this network at the time).
Today, though, Sundance remains one of the most consistent networks in all of cable television. And, since the turn of the century, Sundance has also become one of the most consistent cable streaming sites on the web, too. Offering a classy, user-friendly site that makes it easier than ever to enjoy all of the excellent Sundance content you like, wherever and whenever you like, SundanceTV.com is a must-see streaming site for any cable customer.
This excellent movie and TV streaming site, of course, did not simply happen overnight. Nor is Sundance’s legacy restricted to merely being one of the best cable networks to ever exist. In addition to providing some of the best content to ever air on cable television, Sundance has also been known to be quite the tastemaker as well, thanks to its annual film festival. The Sundance Film Festival is one of the most acclaimed and highly regarded celebrations of independent film. In fact, it is the largest independent film festival in the United States, taking place annually in Park City, Utah; Salt Lake City; and at the Sundance Resort.
So, what came first, the chicken or the egg? Was the Sundance Film Festival born out of the popularity of the Sundance cable TV channel, or was it the other way around? Well, believe it or not, the festival predates the channel. As a matter of fact, Sundance was originally devoted to airing solely independent films, documentaries, short films, world cinema, and coverage of the Sundance Film Festival. Sundance has come quite a long way since those early days, though.
Perhaps no cable TV channel has passed the test of time so easily as Sundance. This is due to many factors, to be sure, but I would say that it boils down to a commitment to quality content. When you focus on primarily airing content that is timeless, well, you are bound to stick around, as far as I am concerned. But it was not only Sundance’s fastidious nature that kept them in the cultural conversation decade after decade, well into the 21st century. It was also a willingness to adapt to the times.
Sundance could have faded out, if it weren’t for their ability to eagerness to accept the digital world in which we now live. Had they stubbornly clung to a nostalgic obsession with the past, the analog – a world represented by much of the content they air – Sundance would have been left behind. Thankfully, though, Sundance adapted, rebranded as Sundance TV, and created one of the best premium TV streaming sites available to cable subscribers today.
With Sundance TV, users can have it all. The movie and TV streaming site offers both on-demand content (anything that they have rights to at the moment), as well as the ability to tune into what’s currently playing on the Sundance channel. With both on-demand streaming and live TV streaming, Sundance TV gives us the best of both worlds.
Robert Redford was supposed to be made partner at the Independent Film Channel (IFC). This never ended up panning out, though. As a result of this disappointment, at a serious crossroads in his career, Redford did not give up. Instead, he launched the Sundance Channel in February of 1996 – the result of a joint venture between Showtime Networks (at the time a Viacom division) and POLYgram (now known as NBC Universal).
The Sundance Channel had a relatively modest start, only airing in 5 key demographics at first: New York City; Los Angeles, California; Alexandria, Virginia; Chamblee, Georgia; and Pensacola, Florida. It began as a premium channel, often offered as a part of a bundle with Showtime and its sister channels, The Movie Channel and Flix.
The owners of rival network IFC did not like to see Sundance coming after their viewers, though. So, once again, IFC swooped in to screw over Robert Redford. They acquired Sundance on May 7, 2008, for a reported $496 million. It was not all bad, though, I suppose, because this with this acquisition also came the introduction of original programming on the Sundance Channel.
It wasn’t until January 27 of 2014 that the Sundance Channel announced that it was to be known officially as Sundance TV – a smart rebranding as the network shifted its efforts more towards the digital, making the term “channel” less sensical. On February 1, 2014, the change became official. 2014 also marked a big year for Sundance TV’s original programming.
Sundance TV released its 4th original miniseries (The Honourable Woman), as well as its 2nd original scripted series (The Red Road). Additionally, 2014 saw the Sundance Channel introduce its first 2 reality series (Loredana and ESQ) while also bringing back new seasons of The Writer’s Room, Rectify, and The Returned.
As of 2021, Sundance TV’s list of original programming is sprawling and expansive, offering a wide variety of series for all walks of life.
The Sundance TV site design is respectably sparse. It has a very classy and stripped down feel to it. This is something that I always look for in good site design – minimalism – and I think that Sundance TV has pulled it off flawlessly. In a word, this site is “sparse,” in the best way possible.
When you land on the home page, you will be greeted by a very large banner at the top of the page. This will be advertising some kind of featured content (when I visited, it happened to be the latest season of a Sundance TV original reality series called The A Word about a family raising an autistic child). Scroll down and find a smattering of Sundance TV’s Latest Episodes, which come fully equipped with the usual side-scrolling browsing function (a la Netflix and Hulu).
Next up, you’ll be able to choose from a gallery of featured shows, each of which presents itself in a slightly larger thumbnail than the aforementioned side scrolling menu. The site shows off its dynamic and responsive user experience here – hover your cursor over a thumbnail for a slight expansion and the sudden appearance of a summary over the image.
Content and Features
As I mentioned earlier, Sundance TV is known for providing classic TV series and movies. When I visited the site, to give you a better idea of what I mean, here are some of the titles that were available to stream on-demand: The Andy Griffith Show, Colombo, Perry Mason, Hogan’s Heroes, Basic Instinct, Along Came a Spider, and Jerry Maguire. This, I think, should give you a good idea of the kind of content you can expect to find on Sundance TV.
In addition to the ability to stream TV shows and movies on-demand, though, Sundance TV also allows users to watch Sundance live. Simply click on “Schedule” and jump into what’s on air at the moment based on your time zone. Whichever way that you prefer to enjoy Sundance TV, it is up to you. In addition to both on-demand and live TV, Sundance also offers plenty of extras and behind the scenes content that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
Mobile and Desktop Experience
Not every cable channel TV streaming site has cross-platform availably. Sundance TV, however, is one of the most widely accessible ones there is. Enjoy Sundance TV on iOS or Android devices, so that you can take your TV and movie streaming with you no matter where you happen to be. You can also take advantage of the Sundance TV app on Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV as well.
Pricings and Plans
The biggest downside of Sundance TV, if you ask me, is the fact that you need to be a customer of a cable company in order to access it. When you attempt to sign into Sundance TV, you will be prompted to find your cable provider; the only way to sign in is with your cable login info. This, of course, severely limits who can use Sundance TV – which is a shame, because it seems like such a promising streaming site.