Let’s face it, paying for half a dozen streaming sites to watch all the shows you love simply isn’t feasible anymore — at some point you need to draw a line in the sand and says “No more.” If you’ve reached that point, but you’re still craving a nightly fix of entertainment — and you’re willing to tolerate some ads — why not explore the cheapest options available? There is a plethora of completely free, legal streaming platforms out there, which doesn’t make it any easier to finds something to watch, so we’ve compiled a shortlist of the best places to stream free content.
You probably already know that YouTube has all manner of independently made vlogs and shows — some of it is even good. You may not already know that YouTube also has a large collection of free movies and TV shows — these are not limited to just public domain pieces from the 1950s (which are also available if you use search filters to find what you’re looking for) .
Titles vary from reality shows like Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchento obscure sci-fi pieces like Andromeda. Unfortunately, YouTube has not made its free Movies and TV service available outside the USA, but hopefully, that will come.
Crackle is an ad-supported streaming service previously owned by Sony Entertainment. While it has since changed hands, it still features over 1000 movies and 72 TV shows, including the likes of The BBC’s Sherlock, 3rd Rock from the Sunand the criminally underappreciated Black Books.
There is also a healthy helping of animated shows, reality TV, action, and thrillers. Ads on Crackle are reasonably frequent, appearing every 10 to 15 minutes during a movie or show.
Paramount Streaming owns and runs Pluto TV as an ad-supported, free streaming platform, meaning that a lot of the content available on Pluto is directly from Paramount itself. Although it is often b-tier or older content, there is a lot to choose from, and Pluto is expanding its roster with exclusives as well. The recent addition of a search button also streamlines the viewing experience significantly.
You can access Pluto TV from just about anything that has a web browser, and there are Pluto TV apps for just about every device under the sun, including the PlayStation 4.
Amazon Freevee (formerly IMDb TV)
Freevee’s catalog is not nearly as plump as even some other free services out there, but there are some worthwhile shows and films, including Mad Menthe Fifty shades series, and Schitt’s Creek. There are also some older titles available that were quite popular in their day.
Freevee is only available in the US and the UK for now, but there are plans to expand the service to Germany by the end of 2022. You will need at least a free Amazon account to access Freevee content, which makes getting around any geo- blocking a little more challenging.
While Fawesome is available globally, you do need to download a pretty clunky app — available on LG TVs, Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Android, iOS, and Windows — to view content. Fawesome has everything from reality TV, docu-series, and kids shows, to a wide variety of action, comedy, drama, and even a handful of popular anime series.
While the content on FOX’s Tubi TV may not be the best out there, it’s certainly plentiful. With over 20,000 shows and movies to choose from, you’re likely to find something to keep you busy on a Friday night. If you’re looking for something specific, you might want to look somewhere else, but Tubi has a healthy helping of action, comedy, drama, documentaries, as well as a handful of animation and anime classics.
Tubi, unfortunately, had to pull out of the UK and EU because of GDPR laws, so for now, US viewers have access to Tubi’s entire catalog of content, whereas international viewers from Canada, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand have access to a limited range of free content.
Anime fans are probably aware of this one already, but Crunchyroll has the most extensive library of both anime and manga. Not everything is available for free, and you have to create a free account to watch anything at all, but it’s a great way to watch anime without going to unscrupulous websites.
The cherry on top of Crunchyroll’s offering is the updated user interface, which is in beta at the time of writing but is a huge step in the right direction.
NBCUniversal’s Peacock TV features two ad-supported tiers — Free and Premium — and one ad-free tier in the form of Premium Plus. Peacock TV differentiates its free offering from the paid versions by offering a limited selection of content on the free tier. Still, Peacock TV’s 40,000 hours of content is nothing to scoff at, especially considering the shows and movies available are generally of a slightly higher caliber than what’s available on many other free alternatives.
The ads on Peacock are not too overwhelming, topping out at 5 minutes per hour of content, but you will need to make an account to watch. Peacock TV is available in the US, UK, Ireland, Germany, and Italy, with limited availability to customers outside the US.
If you like a combination of independent films, documentaries, b-movies, and vintage productions, Plex TV should be on your radar. Along with a comprehensive catalog of on-demand shows and films, Plex also has a host of live TV channels spanning a variety of genres, from news to fitness, and even live sports.
Plex does not force you to create an account to watch, but if you do decide to create an account, you can use Plex to access your other subscriptions or upload content, so everything is in one place. Plex is available outside the US, but the quality and amount of content take a dip when you leave the US.
The CW offers a decent assortment of some of the network’s newest offerings — if you can look past the abhorrent loading speeds and the somewhat outdated video player interface. If you’re looking for some cheesy, potentially edgy entertainment, The CW has a decent amount to offer.
Streaming via The CW is only available in the US, but you might be able to get around that limitation with a VPN, since you do not need an account to access the site.
Fortunately, when you’re using a free streaming service, the choice of which to use is not nearly as difficult as when you’re signing up for a paid service — if you don’t like the content, you can close the tab and move on to the next one. Unfortunately, since many free streaming platforms accept whatever content they can get their hands on, there is a lot of overlap. You could also take advantage of the free trials still offered by some major streaming platforms.