Video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and more have boomed during the coronavirus pandemic. But there comes a point where you can’t see mainstream shows and movies that are always happening. Finding real gems is difficult among all the highly promoted in-house productions and services from major Hollywood studios.
Anyone with a feeling that the major streaming services no longer offer anything unusual or new, have had a chance to take a closer look at Sooner (app store link) for some time now. The still-young video streaming service from Berlin has only been around for a few years and, according to its own statement, offers “entertainment that transcends stereotypes. We celebrate diversity and are committed to content that represents every aspect of our community.” I had the opportunity to explore the streaming service more and more. Details for a while, so I’d like to share my impressions. Maybe you’re tired of Netflix and Co. right Now?
In terms of content, Sooner is all about exclusive movies and series, arthouse and indie content, documentaries, classics, concerts, and topic-specific content rather than mainstream content that’s been watched too many times — a bit like ARTE as a streaming service. All in all, Sooner has over 3000 films and series by filmmakers from all over Europe. Besides established names like Aki Kaurismäki and Ingmar Bergman, you’ll also find new and promising faces, short films, stage shows and much more.
The content is mostly in the original language with subtitles
In addition to general search, Sooner also uses genre categories such as crime, drama, comedy, queer, and more to discover and find video content. In addition, there are regularly topic-specific collections of films, series and documentaries: for example, a list called #SolidarityWithUkraine is currently being presented, which contains content on the topic of war and flight. Groups related to countries, for example for content from France or the Benelux, can also be found there. If you love to inspire people, you can watch the channels on Sooner. Below are curated lists of people in the film industry sharing their favorite movies.
Most of the content on Sooner is kept in its original language, but it is always provided with subtitles in German and/or English. Those interested in movies and series who love to watch and hear content in their original language will find especially ideal conditions here. In the search, you can even search for a language or country, for example “Icelandic”.
Good news: the app is now available for many platforms
In order to be able to use sooner, you must first download the relevant application or register via the website of the service. A lot has happened at Sooner in this area in recent months. Initially, there was only a low-performing iOS/iPadOS website and app with many small bugs, but now the possibilities are greatly expanded and they offer similar apps for Apple TV, Android TV, Fire TV, Samsung Smart TVs, and LG devices and Android. So there should be a possibility to stream content faster anytime and anywhere. With iOS/iPadOS, there is also an AirPlay option on the board so that videos can be viewed on a larger screen.
In terms of quality, Sooner doesn’t achieve 4K resolution, but the FullHD display is always enough to make for a movie evening without spending pixel mud. In addition, there were no issues with out-of-sync subtitles or disconnection in movies, series, and documentaries that I previously streamed on my Apple TV or iPad Pro 11″. When playing videos, you can also adjust resolution (up to 1080p) and playback speed, as well as subtitle settings. Picture-in-picture mode is also available on supported devices such as the iPad.
The iPad app is a bit late
However, there’s been an annoying issue with the iPad app in particular: if you want to stream a video in full screen mode, the full screen mode button won’t work. So you still have a white bar at the bottom of the screen and the status bar shows the date, time, battery level, and more at the top. I haven’t found a solution here yet, as many reviews in the App Store have reported this problem. Switching to portrait mode while gaming on the iPad takes you right back to the Sooner menu. On the other hand, on iPhone with the latest iOS 15, content can be viewed in portrait and landscape format without any problems, even in true full screen mode without any additional overlays on the edges of the screen. Aside from these minor bugs, Sooner cuts a really good character, especially in the new Apple TV app.
Anyone who has become curious about the video streaming service can soon try it out for 14 days for free and then sign up. The latter can then be renewed monthly for 7.95 euros. If you book for a full year, you pay €59.95, which equates to €4.95 per month and save 38 percent compared to a regular monthly subscription. Students can also claim a discount if they can identify themselves, thus saving more. The subscription can be used on multiple devices at the same time. Some urgent content also requires the purchase of a ticket that allows for 72-hour rentals, and it is also possible to purchase a film or documentary on the platform. However, this only affects a small amount of content especially content that has just been introduced at major film festivals, is award winning or is brand new and is exclusively distributed by Sooner.
Personally, I found some interesting content on Sooner, including the highly recommended Norwegian series Kielergata (“Kieler Street”), which I watched in full in a few days. Even if the phrase 3000+ titles doesn’t sound like much content at first, there’s something for every taste here. Fortunately, Sooner delivers exactly what was missing from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Co. For a long time: exciting, high-quality, unusual entertainment by a certain standard.