You don’t have to break the law by pirating in order to watch the shows and movies you care about most. Here are four easy (and fulfilling) ways to replace monthly fees with free on-demand and live TV whenever you want.
Keep in mind that free TV is almost always ad-supported and that free streaming services tend to focus on a rotating selection of new hits and old classics. Not only that, but streaming exclusives like Stranger Things aren’t available outside their proprietary service.
Update, 6/1/22: Verified links and text up to date. Replaced indoor antenna pick.
The best alternative to a paid streaming service is a free streaming service! These free streaming services offer the same layout and features as Netflix or Hulu, with on-demand entertainment, watchlists, and even some exclusive content. A few of these services, including Peacock and Pluto TV, even provide live TV for a cable-like streaming experience.
- Crackle: Crackle is the premier platform for free shows and movies. Its catalog includes an ever-changing cast of classic movies, blockbusters, and exclusive content. If you’ve never used Crackle before … what are you waiting for?
- Pluto TV: A live TV platform that hosts hundreds of free channels. It’s an excellent service for classic shows, documentaries, news, and sports. And hey, you can watch without making an account!
- Peacock: NBC-owned Peacock is the only “premium” streaming service with a free tier. Hop on to watch shows like 30 Rock and Battlestar Galactica for free or stream one of Peacock’s many “live” channels.
- The Roku Channel: Roku’s collection of free movies, shows, and live TV channels. The Roku Channel is available in-browser or on Roku streaming sticks, although you won’t find it on Fire TV sticks or Android TV.
- Tubi: A free streaming service with hundreds of movies and shows. Tubi is a standout service if you’re looking for classics from the 2000s, black cinema, or forgotten family movies.
- IMBD TV: Amazon took a ton of its Prime Video content and shoved it on IMBD TV, a free streaming service for shows and movies. It’s full of hidden gems and a rotating selection of classics.
- Xumo: Xumo is another live TV service that lets you watch hundreds of channels without signing up for an account.
- Plex: Plex now offers 80+ live TV channels and hundreds of on-demand shows and movies for free. Signing up for Plex Pass lets you add DVR for live shows and OTA TV to your Plex account, alongside the usual perks that come with a Plex server.
- Adult Swim: Hop in! Adult Swim streams live shows for free on its website—no account required.
- Netflix: Oh, alright! Netflix has a sampler collection of free movies, like Bird Box and The Two Popes. The service also lets you watch the first episodes of some exclusive shows.
Now that you’ve bookmarked 10 free streaming websites, let’s turn to an alternate avenue for free movies and TV: your library card.
Kanopy is an on-demand streaming service that partners with libraries and universities. Its collection of shows and movies includes critically acclaimed titles like Moonlight, The Central Park Five, and Seven Samurai. Best of all, Kanopy is ad-free, and signup takes just a few minutes. That is if you have your library card or student email on hand.
If you don’t already have a library card … go get one! Library cards are free and available at your local library’s front desk. Plus, you can use a library card to rent audiobooks, ebooks, and (some) on-demand shows and movies from Hoopa and Overdrive.
You can also sign up for Kanopy with your student email, although you’ll have to get a library card to continue using it after finishing school. Kanopy is available in-browser, on your phone, and on your streaming stick.
Why bother with streaming TV when you can enjoy over-the-air broadcasts for free? Antenna TV (or OTA TV) has better picture quality than cable and carries all the major channels you care about, including FOX, CBS, PBS, and ABC. Best of all, OTA TV takes just minutes to set up and doesn’t require an internet connection.
To get started with OTA TV, buy an indoor or outdoor antenna and hook it up to your television. Your TV will scan for channels and present you with whatever’s available in your area. Generally speaking, it’s best to get started with an indoor antenna, as they’re small, cheap, and easy to install.
If you’re curious about what channels are available in your area, visit the Channel Master website and type in your address. Also, consider buying an OTA box for your antenna TV. OTA boxes like the TiVo Bolt, the Tablo Dual LITE, and the Fire TV Recast add DVR functionality to free TV, and even allow you to stream your antenna TV to any device at any time.
Vansky TV Antenna - HD Amplified Digital HDTV Antenna 65-90 Mile w/ Local Broadcast 4K VHF UHF Signal Channels for All TVs with Detachable Amplifier - 16.5feet Coax Cable
Stick this indoor antenna on a window, plug it into your TV, and start enjoying free OTA channels!
There’s nothing wrong with asking your family for some help. Many streaming services don’t mind a little account sharing between family (and sometimes friends!), though some are cracking down on it. Of course, you don’t have to stick with just Netflix and Hulu. Cable subscribers get all kinds of neat perks like on-demand streaming, live in-browser TV, and access to websites like STARZ and MTV.
You could always offer to share the price of an account with a family member or roommate in the same house. A year of Hulu Premium usually costs about $13 a month (roughly $160 a year), but splitting that price with two family members could bring it down to $7 a month, or $80 a year. It’s worth a shot!