With more people cutting cable out of their lives every day, there have been an increase of streaming services available – but they can be pricey. Here are 20+ ways you can stream TV shows and movies for FREE!
In this day and age, there are more ways to watch your favorite TV shows and movies than ever.
We have talked about the best alternatives to cable and satellite television in the past – but a lot of those options still cost money.
When money gets a little tighter, the first thing to typically get on the chopping block is
Below is your guide to resources, free apps, and best sites for free television shows, movies and internet clips. There isn’t one best free TV streaming service that will be perfect for everyone – but there are a lot of great options.
First, I’ll just mention the good ol’ antenna.
It’s been around forever, and you can get free over the air content. Surprisingly, if you get a good signal and a good antenna, the video quality is practically 4k.
I know a good antenna can cost a little bit of money, but, honestly, it isn’t that much. You could always try going to a thrift store to see if you can buy a used antenna.
On the free over-the-air content line of thought, I’ll mention the Locast app. Locast streams some broadcast television stations in certain parts of the United States.
Currently, it looks to be sixteen cities. It is a non-profit organization, so it isn’t surprising that some users have reported pesky requests for donations.
I’ve used it for about an hour, and I haven’t noticed my video stream being interrupted by any requests for donations. However, there are only 12 channels, and you have to watch them live.
An important resource to remember is your local libraries.
If you haven’t signed up for a library card, or are not using one you have, then you’re wasting a great resource for free content. You can rent movies and television shows from most public libraries, which can be a great source of free entertainment.
Some libraries use a service called Hoopla to give cardholders online access to their digital content, which includes movies.
Another site, called Kanopy has movies that you should be able to access with a library card or university login.
My local library’s website has information on these two sites, yet, for some reason, my library card didn’t work. I’ll have to go in and investigate, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try out the services myself.
Free Trials of Live TV and On-Demand Services
Most streaming services provide some type of free trial.
A lot of the streaming services that include live tv are only about a week long. CBS All Access has a week-long trial, and I would guess that it’s partly because it includes live content.
Netflix and Hulu both have month-long trials. A lot of free trials require you to enter credit card information, so makes sure you cancel. They will charge you.
If you alternate free trials with a spouse, you could get pretty good quality free tv for a while.
I do think this is risky. I have hard time remembering to cancel free trials, and, for me, there is a 50/50 chance I’ll forget.
Most of the big broadcasting companies have five recent episodes of their shows that are currently in season. You could start watching a season of a show on Fox, CBS, abc, nbc, the CW, and PBS and watch the whole season, as long as you don’t get more than five episodes behind. Most of these episodes have limited commercials, which just means less overall commercial time than traditional cable and satellite broadcasts.
On-Demand Shows and Movies
There are a number of websites and apps that are similar to the Netflix model of having a library of content that you can watch on-demand around the world.
There are different versions of these types of apps. Some have a lot of commercials, and some just have a few commercials.
As a general note, a lot of free TV is either older or viewed as less in demand. That doesn’t mean you can’t find some real gems.
During this process I have found a number of shows and movies that I would enjoy watching on sites and apps that I wouldn’t think to check. Most of these include a number of shows and movies.
I should note that it seems that some of the free content overlaps between sites/apps. Content is subject to change. I’ve tried to list examples of content, but they might be outdated tomorrow.
Here is a list:
- Apple TV+*
- The Roku Channel
- Pluto TV
- IMDB TV
- FreeCable TV
- CW Seed
- Tubi TV
Another service that a lot of people might not realize they have is access to the new streaming service Apple TV+.
If you’ve recently purchased or been given a new Apple product, then you get a year of Apple TV+ for free.
The offer has to be activated within three months of the purchase of the product. If you missed that deadline, you can, at least, watch the first episodes of their original shows.
I have a few Roku devices and a Roku TV, and I have been advertised content for The Roku Channel before while using those devices.
I had always assumed you had to pay for everything. However, it seems that almost everything is free.
What I was really surprised to find on The Roku Channel is my alma mater’s basketball team playing in a game that I didn’t think was going to be found anywhere.
The Roku Channel has a few other live streams and a lot of licensed content. Some of it seems to overlap with other free sites, but a good amount of it seems unique.
Some titles include La Femme Nikita, The Passion of the Christ, Growing Pains, Caddyshack, Hackers, Batman Begins, The Bachelorette, and Glory.
Pluto TV literally advertises by saying, ‘It’s Free TV.” It is kind of like traditional television in that there are channels, and a channel guide.
There are about a thousand different channels.
Some of them are related to traditional broadcast networks with names like: CMT Westerns, Paramount Movie Channel, MTV Teen, CBSN, and Fox Sports.
Others are more broad, like TV Surf, TV Conspiracy, TV Her, TV Science, and Pluto TV Movies. Oddly, there is an American Gladiator channel that seems to just play episodes of American Gladiator all of the time.
Pluto TV has an On-Demand section with a lot of movies like: The Dictator, Aeon Flux, Artificial Intelligence, American Beauty, The Weatherman and Big Fish.
Pluto TV has On Demand shows as well, such as Leverage, Ice Road Truckers, Duck Dynasty, Forensic Files, Hell’s Kitchen, and Robin Hood.
A quality source of free content is IMDB TV. It has a good amount of content that isn’t found on other free sites.
You access through the IMDB TV app, and I think you might be able to access it through imdb.com/tv.
It appears that IMDB is owned by Amazon. You might notice some added integration with Amazon Prime.
Some of the titles that IMDB boasts are La La Land, Hitch, Drop Dead Diva, Nikita, Les Miserables, and Psych.
I think Psych was just added, and it seemed a little glitchy for me. Hopefully, they’ll get that figured out soon. It seems to me that some content has commercials, and some don’t.
Somewhat surprisingly, at least to me, on YouTube there is a section labeled ‘More from YouTube’ and in that section, you can click on ‘Movies and Shows.’
Within ‘Movies and Shows’ there is a Free to Watch section, and under each movie, it says ‘Free with Ads.’ They have several Jet Li Movies as well as titles like Rain Man, The Terminator, Lord of War, and On Wings of Eagles.
YouTube, as many know, has a lot of videos of television shows, and they have some of their own original shows available for free. I recently enjoyed an Episode of Kevin Hart’s ‘What the Fit.’
Xumo has live and on demand streams. Their live streams are more like Pluto’s channels.
For example, the Xumo Fox Sports channel doesn’t show the same Fox Sports stream that you would get through cable. It is still interesting content, and it is completely free.
I’ve enjoyed the AFV, America’s Funniest Videos, channel and the Fail Army channel – which is just a bunch of random fail videos.
There is an app called Freecable tv that I would guess delivers content from these free and available episodes. They include the commercials as well, and the navigation is a little busy in my opinion. It does seem to have content from various TV shows across different broadcast networks.
I’ve enjoyed CW Seed in the past. It has completely free television shows.
I think it has some quality shows, though I feel like I see a pattern. I think it has several shows that only lasted one season.
It has Atlantis, Forever, Whose Line is it Anyway?, and Robinhood. I’ve enjoyed all of those shows. Just to be clear, it has a bunch of other shows as well.
Crackle is a free, ad-supported streaming service that has been around for a while, and it has a decent selection.
They have created some original content.
Crackle has both television shows and movies such as: Chappie, Zero Dark Thirty, Star Trek: First Contact, Roseanne, Last Resort, and 3rd Rock from the Sun.
Popcornflix is similar to Crackle in that it is free, ad-supported, and has original and licensed content.
They have Centurion, Food Inc., Highlander, Kitchen Nightmares, different Chicken Soup for the Souls, and Detectorists. For those interested, there are specific movie sections labeled ‘Asian Action’ and ‘Espanol.’
Vudu has a section of their site/app that has free movies and television shows labeled as ‘free with ads.’
As a sample and as of the writing of this post, they have Leverage, The Temptations, Merlin, The Last Witch Hunter, Police Academy, and Silver Linings.
Tubitv.com is another ad-supported, free streaming site/app. They have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, John Q., Catch Me if You Can, The Beverly Hill Billies, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and Haven.
Snagfilms.com describes itself as have philanthropic films online. They have over 2,000 pieces of content that seem to be intended to be eye-opening and thought-provoking.
If you’re interested in more news-oriented content there is Newsy.com and newson.us. Newsy claims to try to inform you without trying to influence you, and NewsOn is a streaming source for your local news.
Findie.me is a site that, I believe, has free indie films. It tried to sign up so that I could test the site. I tried to sign up through my google account, but google didn’t trust the site. I decided to not sign up, but you can decide if you want to try trusting the site for yourself.
Shoutfactorytv.com seems to have a more outdated and unusual selection than other free sites. However, they do have Mystery Science Theater 3000.
BYUTV.org is a site with the almost exclusively original family, friendly content. They have past seasons of their YouTube hit comedy, Studio C. Plus, they have some reality TV content, scripted shows, and some religious content.
The site is produced by Brigham Young University, BYU. I enjoy watching The Fixers, where a group of experienced builders improve and create things for needy individuals and communities around the world.
Apps/Sites for Free Clips and Videos
There is a whole other category of free video content that is more similar to what YouTube is mostly known for, short clips.
This might be useful if you don’t have a lot of time, and you just need to take a 5-minute break. Be careful that it doesn’t turn into a 45-minute break!
FunnyorDie.com is focused on shorter comedy videos. However, I enjoyed video footage from someone strapping a GoPro to a turtle. It wasn’t particularly hilarious, but it was interesting.
Digg.com/video has a lit of interesting little clips. I enjoyed one where a tennis player hit a ball with some much backspin that it came back onto her side. Is she supposed to hit it again?
Neverthink.tv interestingly names site where you can watch short videos by categories. You click on a category, and a video pops up that they feel fits that category. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed most of the clips I was served.
Rheo.tv is similar to Neverthink.tv in that it has categories, and it serves you up a stream of videos based on the categories. I feel like it has more content that was on broadcast television at one point and less self-produced content.
I hope that this has provided you with a lot of resources to stream free TV! Let me know if I missed anything.
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Forrest lives in Colorado with the wonderful Katie Clark and their two sons. Forrest was raised in North Carolina, graduated from BYU with a degree in political science, and loves to dabble in lots different things. Plus, he is a big MLS fan.