Streaming services are platforms that provide optimum entertainment and unlimited fun to users in the comfort of their homes. The limitation is just that you can’t sign up for all of them because it’s not financially feasible for most users. This is where the best free streaming services are introduced. They offer hours of bingeing pleasure all for free. However, you will have to watch with ads, but it’s no different from what you get via an expensive cable subscription plan.
The best free streaming services give you unlimited access to watch great movies and TV shows without paying a single dime. Some free streaming services provide live channels, others offer on-demand content, but a few have both mainly older and classic titles with some newer hits.
Most of the best free streaming services are ad-supported since that’s the medium from where they get their revenue from. They run about 30 to 60 seconds commercials, normally at the same rate as a cable network. Watching the latest on-demand originals, well-known movies, and live streaming channels can easily make you end up paying about $50 or more per month. Although, using one or several free streaming services can save you costs.
These free streaming services like Crackle, IMDb TV, Kanopy, Peacock, Pluto TV, and Tubi all have on-demand movies to stream. Peacock and IMDb TV stream most of the popular movies, while Kanopy is known for top-notch documentaries and it doesn’t show any ads too. This article will guide you in choosing the best free streaming services you could select to stream various captivating content.
10 Best Free Streaming Services
Here are 10 of the best free streaming services you could utilize, where you can stream everything from the latest blockbusters, to indie favorites, and to classic movies you’ve always wanted to tick off your list:
NBC’s Peacock TV is a new power player on the streaming circuit. It’s a behemoth already in the sense that it features over 13,000 hours of top-notch content in its Peacock Free tier. Titles like 30 Rock, Battlestar Galactica, Cheers, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, and Parks and Recreation are found in Peacock’s content. Very soon, the complete series of The Office will be available. There are also a ton of movies to watch, from the Bourne Identity trilogy to Jurassic Park and Shrek.
Peacock Free doesn’t require any credit card info, but you will have to patiently watch ads including commercials for Peacock Premium. Note that in terms of the latest movies and TV shows you might be excited to watch, Peacock is second to none. Without paying a cent, you can view movies like the first five seasons of The Office or the Back to the Future trilogy.
The selection is very fantastic, even though it’s free and ad-supported. For $5 a month, you can upgrade your package to unlock more content, like the rest of The Office, in addition to more movies and other premium collections. Also for $10 a month, you can stream almost all videos without ads. However, the free plan has a lot to keep you entertained and excited.
There are also “live” channels, depending on brands like Saturday Night Live and the Today Show. In case you don’t know what to watch, channel surf to check out what’s playing at the moment. All in all, you can call Peacock Free a steal because it doesn’t cost anything!
Pluto TV which is owned by Viacom is one of the best free streaming services platforms that provides more than 200 conventional TV channels for free live viewing like MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and even Court TV if that’s your spec. Pluto TV also offers an ad-supported and on-demand collection of small and big screen classics and movie highlights presently including grease, Clue, Young Adult, and Shaft, while on the TV side, there are romantic faves like Degrassi and Third Rock From the Sun.
You can watch Pluto TV by downloading the Pluto TV app on your Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, or Android device, or navigating straight to the site in your browser. You’ll be asked to sign up for an account, but you can start watching without having an account.
Vudu is owned by Walmart and it’s principally designed to provide paid movie rentals. But they also offer a collection of free movies to stream with ads, including The Prestige, Thelma & Louise, Buried, and The Insider. Vudu features some latest movies since it’s got Walmart behind it.
The Vudu interface is quite very simple to use. Free content is marked and you can seep for only free titles. The ads are quite frequent as other free streaming services, but they tend to be more repetitive (and sometimes frustrating that leaves you with no choice but to select an option).
You will need to create a Vudu account even for the free content. Do this by navigating to vudu.com to sign up and in case you have a Walmart account, that will work here too. Just click on the “Free” tab to see the whole selection.
Tubi is a free streaming service that brings together content from several Hollywood giants like Paramount Pictures, MGM, Lionsgate, Warner Bros., and Universal Pictures. Like you can relate, that translates to a spectacular collection of blockbusters, from The Terminator to Top Five to Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. If you are a user and you don’t mind watching ads, then Tubi is hard to beat. Tubi is also a great on-demand service with huge lineups of movies and TV shows.
Tubi has a clean, organized, and streamlined experience in that its home page is classified into sections like Recently Added, Family Movies, Action, and Black Cinema. Tap on the menu for more genres and curated collections, including the Clever and Cheeky not on Netflix area. Although you don’t have to sign up to use Tubi TV, registering for an account gives you unlimited access to parental controls, a queue, and viewing history.
You can watch Tubi TV by downloading the Tubi app on various streaming devices like the Roku, Playstation, Xbox, or Amazon Fire Stick, or just click over to tubitv.com in your browser.
Internet Movie Database (IMDb TV), now owned by Amazon has been a wonderful resource for filmographies which has expanded into streaming. The IMDb TV channel appears automatically on Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks. In case you have a different device, you can access IMDb TV via the Amazon Prime Video app.
The Internet Movie Database is getting into the streaming video game, providing some of its original content as well as ad-supported streaming of exciting movies and shows. The present movie collection includes a whole pack of must-watches like Eat Pray Love, Spotlight, Donnie Darko, and Memento, and on the TV side, you can catch up on binge-worthy recent shows like Schitt’s Creek, White Collar, and Desperate Housewives.
In case you’ve been wanting to watch Mad Men, here’s your chance! IMDb TV has the whole complete series, with 31 seasons of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. To access the IMDb library, you will need to create an account or use your existing Amazon details. IMDb TV is also a great on-demand service with vast lineups of movies and TV shows.
In case you don’t have an IMDb account yet, you can create one at IMDb.com/tv, or simply sign in with your Amazon details. After this, you can go ahead and browse at your leisure.
The Roku Channel
Roku is one of the most popular devices for at-home streaming, even though many Roku users are not aware of The Roku Channel. This makes ad-supported streaming content available to everyone, even if you don’t have the device itself. Signing up for the premium subscription will get you more exciting content, but on the free side which this article is about, there are some cosmic movies like The Shining, Dirty Harry, and Ordinary People.
The Roku Channel app appears automatically with any Roku TV or device, but it’s also available for download on smartphones and tablets. It’s also possible to access it on the web. The Roku Channel doesn’t mandate you to register for an account (you can however watch as a guest) but signing up gives you the access to continue watching content on another device.
The Roku Channel provides more than 150 available channels in the United States. The upgrade started in the summer of 2020 and included a new Live TV Channel Guide designed to make browsing through the substantial catalog easy. The Roku Channel provides some high-quality channels, like ABC News Live, Fubo Sports Network, Redbox Free Movies, and Kidz Bop TV for the kids. It also offers a wide range of good lifestyle options, that include Glamour, GQ, Vanity Fair, and Vogue.
You can watch the Roku channel by navigating to The Roku Channel site or open the app using your Roku in case you have one. You will be directed to sign up for an account, but just in case you want to watch the free content, you don’t need to do so.
Sony launched this not-so-popular streaming service some years ago but rebooted it last year as a joint venture with Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. The ad-supported service provides a lot of free classic movies like Sunset Boulevard and Girl, Interrupted, plus the latest blockbusters like 10 Cloverfield Lane. There are also romantic TV offerings like Bewitched and the original Charlie’s Angels, it also streams TV shows and even original programming. For original content, turn on Crackle TV, which has on-demand movies, TV shows, and originals to enjoy!
Crackle is a pioneer in the free streaming platform since it was launched in 2004, back then when Netflix was still shipping DVDs. Crackle houses free movies and TV shows and even original programming, which makes it stand out among the other free streaming services on this list. Crackle doesn’t require registration, although an account allows you to add favorites and save progress while watching a movie.
The movies collection is more huge than the TV and even much more interesting. Crackle is one of the best free streaming services because it doesn’t settle for the less, with originals featuring top actors that include Martin Freeman, Bryan Cranston, and Rupert Grint.
You can watch Crackle TV by navigating to Crackle.com and begin browsing and note that you don’t even need an account.
Sling is one of the best common live TV streaming services in the market that charges $30 monthly for 50-plus channels. Lately, they introduced a free area with live and on-demand content. There aren’t a lot of free live channels aside from ABC News, the majority of them aren’t recognizable names.
You can create an account and you watch shows like Hell’s Kitchen or Rick and Morty without paying a dime. There’s also a selection of live news channels you can put on if that’s more of your spec. The on-demand part contains more content, however, you will find a lot of the same TV titles that are found on other free services, like Forensic Files, Hell’s Kitchen, Unsolved Mysteries, Roseanne, and 3rd Rock From the Sun. The movie’s section is less exciting; recent titles include Crocodile, Howl, The Illusionist, and Double Identity. Sling Free seems like more of a medium to get users interested in the paid subscription plans.
Xumo is one other free streaming service with live and on-demand content. The application appears on many major smart TV brands and can also be downloaded on Roku, iOS, and Android. No account registration is required. Xumo provides more than 190 channels, including top brands like NBC News, Fox Sports, Funny or Die, and TMZ.
Xumo’s major experience is a grid-type guide, just like it is with cable TV. You can stream live as you channel surf. The on-demand part lists all the channels, separated by genre. The interface doesn’t make it that simple to view what TV shows are available. Although, it looks like Xumo has the usual free fare: 21 Jump Street, Forensic Files, Family Feud, and Unsolved Mysteries. The mobile app has a movies tab that you can browse through.
Kanopy, a movie-centric platform offers an impressive range of the latest indie and world cinema hits, like Moonlight, Eighth Grade, Girlhood, Lady Bird, Timbuktu, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and The Disaster Artist. In case you’re waiting to tick some classics off your To Watch list, Kanopy can help here too, with offerings like Solaris, The Italian Job, and His Girl Friday, while the Kanopy Kids section will keep the whole family excited.
In case you have a valid email account and a library card or university card, then you have unlimited free access to Kanopy. Unlike the other free streaming services, you get 15 monthly credits to utilize the on-demand content. In case you don’t use them all, you can do a rollover. However, Kanopy isn’t as simple as heading to the website and viewing, you get movies and shows that are ad-free. Kanopy has a vast variety of critically approved movies, documentaries, and popular TV series. If you already have a library card, you can as well enjoy this ad-free streaming service.
Kanopy collaborates with libraries and educational institutions, so you must have either a library card or an affiliation with a university to use the service. After logging in on Kanopy.com using your library card or eligible university details, you will create an account, and then you can begin browsing.
If you have a library card, then you have Kanopy! You have to sign up for a different Kanopy account, and your public library needs to be a Kanopy customer, but some big ones are not users. The New York Public Library system dropped it in 2019 because of sky-rocketing expenses. While you watch movies on the Kanopy platform for free, your library pays per stream. Isn’t that interesting!
If your library does provide Kanopy, you can’t do better in terms of quality indie fare. It includes dozens of movies from the storied Criterion Collection. A cinephile’s dream, and the perfect excuse to renew your library card.
How to Select the Best Free Streaming Service
Since the streaming services are all free, you don’t need to select just one of the best free streaming services. Content selection is another main thing that distinguishes the free streaming services from each other. However, you may find it hard to balance a bunch of various apps and want to focus on just one or two. Follow the tips below to help you select the best free streaming services that suit you per time:
- To watch live channels, you should use Pluto TV, Sling Free, Xumo, Peacock or check to see if the Roku Channel’s new live TV guide is available for you.
- To watch movies and TV shows on-demand, then try Peacock, Crackle, IMDBtv, Tubi, or Vudu.
- To watch more robust movie libraries, try Crackle and Vudu.
- To watch a library of name-brand content, try Peacock.
- To watch top past shows, try IMDBtv and Roku Channel.
Browse for available titles and see if the streamer has options that fascinate you. Even though these services are free, it doesn’t mean they have stuff you want to watch.
Common Limitations of Free Streaming Services
Every good thing also has its pros and cons. You can’t expect free services to include all the top features of paid services, it will have some restrictions. Here are some common limitations of the free streaming services below:
- Low streaming resolution available, with few services supporting full-HD streams.
- Poor viewing experience.
- Doesn’t support offline downloads on mobile devices.
- Kanopy restricts the number of titles you can watch each month (This does not apply to its kid-friendly content).
- Free live TV options don’t include DVR recording capabilities or storage. You don’t have to pay much for these features anyway.
This post contains the 10 best streaming services in 2021 that can offer you unlimited free access to free latest movies, TV shows, and different documentaries. The common limitations of free streaming services were also stated. If this article was helpful to you kindly drop your comments in the section below.