Netflix Makes Documentaries Free to Stream: Design, Politics, Sports, Sir David Attenborough & More

Many of us kept indoors by the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic for days — or rather weeks, or per­haps months — have been imbued with a new sense of won­der about our world. Specif­i­cal­ly, we’re won­der­ing what’s going on in it. At the same time as the glob­al sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty strug­gles to deter­mine the nature of the new and still poor­ly under­stood virus tak­ing lives and immo­bi­liz­ing economies, we hear dig­i­tal word of con­se­quent phe­nom­e­na also pre­vi­ous­ly unknown in our life­times: wild ani­mals, for instance, mak­ing their way into the streets of major cities. We live, it turns out, in a stranger, more mys­te­ri­ous real­i­ty than we’d imag­ined. For­tu­nate­ly, the inter­net makes it pos­si­ble for us to start get­ting a grip on that real­i­ty here in our homes, not least through free stream­ing Net­flix doc­u­men­taries.

“In the Before Times, Net­flix let teach­ers stream their pro­gram­ming in the class­room,” writes Jason Kot­tke. With schools out of ses­sion, “Net­flix has decid­ed to put some of their edu­ca­tion­al pro­gram­ming on YouTube for free (full playlist here). For instance, they’ve put all 8 episodes of David Attenborough’s nature series Our Plan­et online in their entire­ty.”

Released just last year, that Net­flix debut of the high­ly respect­ed nat­ur­al his­to­ri­an and broad­cast­er cov­ers in great visu­al detail — and, need­less to say, with high­ly evoca­tive nar­ra­tion — every­where from forests and deserts to jun­gles and high seas. If as a start­ing point that all seems a bit epic, as they say, Net­flix has also made free sin­gle-serv­ing doc­u­men­tary shorts on sub­jects like the stock mar­ket, the excla­ma­tion point, and crick­et (the British Empire sport, not the insect).

Those come from the series Explained, a col­lab­o­ra­tion between Net­flix and Vox, a site known for its brief “explain­er” videos on cul­ture, sci­ence, and cur­rent events — one of which, on the coro­n­avirus itself, we fea­tured last month here on Open Cul­ture. Net­flix has also made free to stream on Youtube oth­er series like Abstract, which looks at the art of design (and whose debut we fea­tured here a few years ago), and Babies, a five-part jour­ney into the life of the human infant. If you pre­fer a fea­ture-length doc­u­men­tary expe­ri­ence to a dai­ly view or a binge-watch, you’ll also find on the playlist Ava DuVer­nay’s 13th, Rachel Lears’ Knock Down the House, and Jeff Orlowski’s Chas­ing Coral. When the orders of “stay home” and “social-dis­tance” come to an end, many of us will feel a stronger desire to explore and learn about the world than ever before — in part because of how much of the time indoors we’ve spent stok­ing our curios­i­ty with doc­u­men­taries like these. Access the playlist of doc­u­men­taries here.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent:

265 Free Doc­u­men­taries Online

200 Free Doc­u­men­taries: A Super Rich List of Fine­ly-Craft­ed Doc­u­men­taries on the Web

Cours­era Makes Cours­es & Cer­tifi­cates Free Dur­ing Coro­n­avirus Quar­an­tine: Take Cours­es in Psy­chol­o­gy, Music, Well­ness, Pro­fes­sion­al Devel­op­ment & More Online

Björk and Sir David Atten­bor­ough Team Up in a New Doc­u­men­tary About Music and Tech­nol­o­gy

David Atten­bor­ough Reads “What a Won­der­ful World” in a Mov­ing Video

Use Your Time in Iso­la­tion to Learn Every­thing You’ve Always Want­ed To: Free Online Cours­es, Audio Books, eBooks, Movies, Col­or­ing Books & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.