This post has been updated. It was originally released on March 24, 2020.
When old reliable streaming platforms start to feel a bit stale, you don’t need to resort to binging. Parks and recreation for the fifth time (although it couldn’t hurt, honestly). If you’re stuck inside looking for things to watch, you might be surprised at how many free movies and shows are ripe for picking on your TV.
Whether you’re using your TV’s built-in smart features or a standalone set-top box like Roku or Apple TV, you’ll find a huge selection of channels offering free content, even well-known names like NBC, Fox, and Adult Swimming. Many of them are limited if you don’t have a cable subscription, but some, including those with lesser-known names, offer entire movies and TV seasons at no cost.
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First of all, temper your expectations a bit. These channels are free for a reason, so they won’t have tons of big budget movies or the latest releases. Most of the time, you’ll find plenty of B-movies and classic sitcoms, with a few highlights from the last few years. There are also a decent amount of crossovers, and catalogs run periodically, just like Netflix. Depending on when you’re reading this, the titles below may no longer be available, but they will give you a feel for the selection and experience.
Sony’s Crackle channel has a wide selection of free channels, with many genres to choose from. Whether you’re a horror fan, an action freak, or just looking for a comedy, you’ll likely find something here. You will find critically acclaimed films like Fury and Social network alongside older titles like the Ace Ventura series, Launch error, Midnight in Paris, and (oddly) some classic suites like Plane II, 33 ½ bare pistol, and some of the Star trek movies. It also has a lot of classic sitcoms, as well as a few recent shows that were decent but didn’t perform well, like Marry me and Mr. Sun. There are probably some great ones that I didn’t get to see, because browsing the app on my Roku was a terrible experience – the platform only has one visible row and an autoplaying video. background. But if you can take it, there is definitely a lot to look at.
Vudu is primarily a movie and TV buying service, with rentals and purchases similar to iTunes or the Google Play Store. However, it does have a good selection of free content that you can watch with ads, from movies like the Deadly weapon series, V for Vendetta, or — if you need something a little more upbeat—Super bad and happy feet. It has a few TV shows, but its strength is in feature films, so check it out if you’re looking for a way to kill a few hours.
The Roku Channel
Roku hosted its own free movie and TV channel, featuring slightly older movies like To hang up, The Karate Kid, and Rudy, alongside TV shows like Schitt Creek, Without leaving a trace, and a stable of classic sitcoms like Delighted. There is also a lot of reality TV. It’s primarily designed for Roku users (obviously), but it’s also available on web and mobile devices, so you can watch it through your Fire TV’s browser or through AirPlay on your Apple TV.
Tubi is not a household name, but I found the app to be enjoyable with a decent selection of the usual classic titles, as well as moderately recent movies like Minority report, Black hawk down, and that of Michael Bay Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Unlike some of the other channels, however, it has many specific and easy-to-navigate categories such as Family Movies, Cinema Noir, and the neatly titled “Not on Netflix,” which makes it a bit easier to find something that you want. you are bound. to like.
Filmrise is one of the few channels that keeps things simple – it’s a big list of movies in a basic interface that’s easy to navigate and shares a lot of content with other free channels. I found funny titles like Lars and the real girl, The revenge of a blonde, The illusionist, and Memento (One of my favorites). It also offers a few lesser-known TV shows, alongside a few big names like 3rd Rock of the Sun, Adam West Batman, and a lot of Gordon Ramsay. You’ll find them elsewhere too, but Filmrise has a section that I haven’t seen many other places: live concerts. So if you fancy watching a performance by The Rolling Stones, The Who, Stone Temple Pilots, or Dream Theater, Filmrise has a few to choose from.
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Similar to Filmrise, Popcornflix is a simple, searchable database of free movies and shows. You will find classics like Index and the original Italian work, modern comedies like Young adult and Too beautiful (which I maintain is funnier than you think), and action taken for good measure. There are loads of crossovers with other free channels on this list, but it’s still worth checking out.
Pluto TV is a little different from your typical streaming channels. Instead of a selection of movies and shows that are always available, Pluto TV is more like live TV, with “channels” like BET, Comedy Central, Fox Sports, Spike, Westerns and even a 007 channel showing movies. Classic Bond 24/7. You can’t start a movie from scratch, so you’ll have to do things the old-fashioned way and watch what’s going on right now. But I guess that’s fine if you’re the kind of person who likes to change channels rather than being faced with a single decision. You can also find this input built into your TV as an input: Samsung calls it TV Plus and Vizio calls it WatchFree +.
If you’re an anime fan, you probably already know Crunchyroll. If you’re not an anime fan – or if you were in the past but haven’t kept pace – there’s a lot to rediscover here. The selection of shows is huge and most of them are available for free with the main exception of the last episodes of some newer titles. You will only have to accept the advertisements, unless you are making a pony.
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While Plex started out as a way for you to stream your own shows over your home network, the company has expanded into a ton of streaming content, including news, web series, movies, and shows. It’s a similar type of selection you see with other services, with some notable titles as well as some good but lesser known series like The Dresden Files. The navigation will be familiar to anyone with a Netflix account, and Plex does a good job dividing its large library into more specific categories for easy navigation. However, you need a free account to stream.
Hoopla is not available to everyone, but rather partners with some local libraries and schools across the country to provide streaming movies, shows and audiobooks to their members. You’ll find a similar selection to the streaming services above, but it also has titles that I haven’t seen on many other channels like What we do in the shadows (seriously, look at it) and Goodwill hunting. It also offers a remarkably wide selection of products aimed at the family, from The Pokémon movie at 13 In progress 30. You’ll need to create a free account, but as long as your local library is supported by Hoopla – you can check when you sign up – you’ll have quite a few choices to choose from.
If you’ve taken cable TV out of your life, you probably know all about Sling, the pseudo-a-la-carte replacement for live TV. But alongside its live channels, Sling has a selection of free streaming content that you can watch without an account. Much of it is news-based, but you’ll also find a few shows like the 21 rue du saut TV shows, Hell’s Kitchen, and Anchored for life. Sling’s free selection is probably one of the weakest I’ve seen (as most of its notable shows are available on other channels), but it’s worth checking out as you browse.