One of the major benefits of streaming is the opportunity to save money with free services. While it is no secret that the cost of streaming keeps escalating in general, consumers have never had more or better choices. They can now choose which services to use, and in accordance with their budget. It is even possible to watch plenty of movies and shows without paying anything at all.
While paying does open the door to even more choices, and likely access to newer shows and movies, the streaming market is growing at an incredible rate with new services launching all the time. All of which means there’s never been a better time to check out free streaming services and what they have to offer.
We would argue that many homes will likely be surprised at just how much they can actually watch without having to pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee. While some of the services listed below offer paid plans as well, all of them provide access to a wide variety of shows and movies at no cost.
11 free streaming services worth checking out:
A closer look at the best free streaming services
Here’s a closer look at each of the services listed above as well as a bonus mention.
Crackle is a service that often gets forgotten about and yet it is packed with free movies, TV shows, and original programming. Users can watch without signing up or create a free account to take advantage of additional benefits including access to a watchlist and the ability to continue watching.
Owned by Amazon, Freevee provide access to a wide selection of movies, documentaries, and TV shows for free. Previously known as IMDb TV, Freevee is an ad-supported service and its use of ads is primarily what makes it different to Amazon’s other streaming service, Prime Video.
In fact, Prime members will find they can watch Freevee content directly within the Prime Video app.
Plex is another free streaming service that’s worth checking out. Users can either tune in to one of the various themed live channels or find something to watch from the extensive on-demand library of content.
Ads are in effect with Plex, and they can be a little more frequent than with some of the other services on this list.
Pluto TV is one of the leaders in the free streaming space, and with good reason. It is packed with plenty of live channels and on-demand content, making it a good option to consider using. Ads are used, and in our testing, we found their use to be a little on the heavy side. Still, for a service that’s completely free, it’s hard to argue with the ads.
Popcornflix is yet another free option that’s worth considering. While the selection of movies and shows might not be as extensive as some of the other services, you might find titles here that you won’t find on the others.
Sling TV is a live TV streaming service that requires a paid subscription. However, it does also offer a Sling Free experience that’s worth checking out. Sling Free is stocked with a wide selection of live channels and on-demand content.
Users can choose to watch without signing up for an account, or create an account for a more personalized experience. There’s always the option to upgrade to one of the paid plans at any time as well.
The Roku Channel
Due to the popularity of Roku hardware, The Roku Channel is another hugely popular free streaming service. Similar to others, The Roku Channels offer access to a wide variety of movies and TV shows that are available to watch at any time. In addition, there’s plenty of live channels available as well.
Best of all, you don’t actually need a Roku device to watch The Roku Channel as the app can be downloaded on third-party devices as well.
Along with Pluto, Tubi is another service that has quickly grown in popularity. Similar to Pluto, Tubi also offers access to a wide selection of on-demand movies and shows, as well as live TV. In our testing, we found the ad frequency and duration to also be a little better on Tubi than on Pluto TV.
All of which does make Tubi one of our favorites picks for those looking for a free streaming service.
Vudu is already a popular destination for digital purchases and rentals. However, many might not realize that Vudu also offers plenty of content to stream for free. In truth, the selection of free content is more limited than with some of the other services on this list, but Vudu is still one to keep in mind, and especially for those homes that already have the app downloaded on their devices.
Xumo Play is another popular free streaming service. Previously known as Xumo, Xumo Play can already be accessed on some TVs and players as a pre-loaded streaming service. For those without one of those devices, the Xumo Play app can be downloaded on a wide range of devices to unlock access to the library of live channels and on-demand content.
Many will already know and use YouTube as a source of free entertainment, but they might not know that the site offers access to plenty of movies and shows for free. These can be found within the Movies & TV hub section and the free ones are specifically labeled as “Free with Ads.”
Considering most of us already have and use YouTube, it is a good streaming service to keep in mind when next looking for a movie or show to watch for free.
Bonus mention – Prime Video
Amazon’s Prime Video is not actually free, as you do need to have a Prime Membership to access the main catalog. However, for anyone who is already a Prime member, the video service is essentially free, and that makes it worth pointing out as a bonus mention.
Prime Video is an excellent streaming service with plenty of shows and movies to choose from, including Prime Originals.
A note about free streaming services
Free is a term that gets thrown around a lot. However, in the digital age, nothing is totally free and so it is worth taking a moment to address this.
Firstly, pretty much every free service comes with ads. The use of commercials is primarily how these services generate revenue in replace of a subscription model. This approach is known as ad-supported video on demand (or AVOD for short) and is different to the SVOD and TVOD streaming models. Therefore, you should expect that any free service you use will employ ads. In some cases, the ads might also be personalized as well.
The personalized ads point is another element to keep in mind as this is often the result of data collected about the user. The more you watch, the better the service gets to know your interests and habits. That’s all valuable information to advertisers. Data is a cost of doing business online, and is especially relevant to the free streaming service market where ads are the primary source of revenue for these companies.
Another factor to consider is how much your email address (and sometimes additional personal information) is worth. Some of the services mentioned on this list will require the user to sign up for a free account. While users often benefit through additional features when creating a free account, such as recommendations and a watchlist, their personal information is something that they might be handing over in return.
Of course, none of these caveats should put you off using a free streaming service, and it is not like paid services don’t raise the same concerns. All of the free streaming services on this list are legit services, and offer incredible value overall.