by Harry Guinness on
If you’ve any interest in writing nicely then a $1 ballpoint won’t cut it, you need to look at a fountain pen.
Cutting the cord still leaves you with a ton of entertainment options, but they don’t all have to cost money. In fact, there are a number of free ways to watch TV and movies online.
As you might expect, most of the (legal) online services that offer free access to TV and movies do so through paid ad sponsorships. As long as you’re willing to set through a few ads here and there, you can get access to all sorts of TV shows, movies, documentaries, and more—all without having to crack open your wallet even once.
With a good-sized collection of apps and services that offer this sort of service, you could ultimately have access to a potentially massive selection of content without cable or a rotating set of subscriptions. Here are our picks for the ones you should definitely check out, as well as a few other options for free TV.
Pluto TV is a unique service, because it offers access to over 100 live TV channels, as well as a huge selection of movies and shows that can be streamed online. Pluto is essentially a curated guide, featuring things that are already playing on the web, collected in one place.
It features a familiar, TV guide-like interface that makes it easy to use, along with support for nearly all streaming platforms—including Android, iOS, Chromecast, Fire TV, and more—making it a great choice for anyone who wants some (quite literally) free entertainment.
Tubi is like a free Netflix that features over 7,000 titles at the time of writing, all available to watch for free. Tubi also has streaming apps on one of the widest arrays of platforms we’ve seen, including Android, iOS, Roku, Fire TV, Xbox, PlayStation, Chromecast, and more. It’s a truly impressive list. There are tons of paid services out there that can’t be accessed in as many places.
Unlike Pluto, where you can simply fire up the app and start watching, Tubi does require you to sign up for the service—but that’s a small price to pay for free movies and TV shows.
Crackle has been around for a long time, though it started life under the name Grouper. Sony picked the company up back in ’06, but it only recently changed the name to Sony Crackle.
Similar to Tubi TV, Crackle offers a pretty big catalog of streaming TV and movies, as well as original content just for the network. Also like Tubi, Crackle is available on pretty much any streaming box you can think of—even Xbox. Good on you, Sony.
Popcornflix aims to keep things as simple as possible, so the services claims that “no movie is more than two clicks away.” It lives up to that, too—you can jump over to the website, find a movie, and simply click Play. You’ll be watching in a matter of seconds, all without having to sign up or deal with any extra fluff.
Of course, there are benefits for members, too. For example, there’s a GIF creator on the web player, allowing users to create custom GIFs from movies or shows as they watch. How cool is that?
Once upon a time, Hulu had a free tier. You could watch shows and movies without having to pay for the service. Today, however, that free tier is no longer available directly from Hulu. Instead, Hulu and Yahoo teamed up to offer Yahoo View—a free Yahoo service that’s powered by Hulu. Given the Hulu-backing, this service is focused heavily on streaming TV shows instead of movies.
You won’t get access to Hulu originals here, mind you (sorry, no free ride for The Handmaid’s Tale), but it still has a pretty decent selection. There are a lot of shows here, including big names like Gotham and South Park.
There is one big downside to Yahoo View: it’s only available in the browser. I guess making it available through mobile apps would hit a little too close to Hulu’s market. But whatever—it’s free, so you can’t really complain.
While the aforementioned services are the best of the bunch, there are a few others worth mentioning too, though they’re a little less encompassing.
While we’ve covered a lot of streaming services so far, there’s another option for local channels: an HD antenna. These cheap plastic antenna can get you access to all your locals, as well as a few others in some areas. The channel selection can vary greatly depending on where you live—the closer you are to a big city, the better the selection you’ll get. Conversely, if you’re in a more rural area, you may not get much of anything.
Fortunately, there’s a tool that will not only show you what channels you will be able to get, but also what direction they’re coming from to help you better place the antenna. We have a full post on the ins and outs of using an HD antenna (as well as a few recommendations on which ones are worth buying in our roundup here), so if this is something you’re interested in it’s definitely worth the read.
If you’re really enterprising, you can even add DVR functionality to your HD antenna with the right tools.
If you’re willing to jump through a few minor hoops and watch some ads, there’s a wealth of free TV out there to snatch up.
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