What Free Streaming Services Are There?
Luckily with just the cost of an internet connection, there are plenty of legal free streaming services to keep you entertained with just the cost of your time and patience with advertisement breaks. A paid service like Netflix offers the better chance of more up-to-date content, and tons of original programming, but if you can live with content that may be a little less than new, there's still a good selection of free streaming platforms to keep you satisfied.
Originally started by Sony in 2007, Crackle streamed content from Sony's library of shows and movies, like Seinfeld and Step Brothers, and included original shows like Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and Joe Dirt 2. Sony has since sold a stake in Crackle and is no longer the majority owner, but the platform is still rich with great movies and shows, and original content is still being produced for the platform.
I've been following Pluto TV since it started back over five years ago. At the time, it mostly served as a YouTube playlist aggregator that functioned like linear television with content from CNET and other companies. Over time, more movies and content have been added, including an on-demand section of the platform, and was purchased by Viacom in early 2019. Since the acquisition, content from Viacom's library has been continually added to the platform, and Pluto TV will eventually serve as the free version of the future rebrand of CBS All Access. Until that rebrand, there's still a great selection of movies and TV shows both in and outside the ViacomCBS library, and can act as a good cable replacement for those who like the style of linear television.
Another free service in the style of linear television, Xumo offers a similar service to Pluto TV with some different offerings. Both have an on-demand section so you don't have to just watch live. Xumo, now owned by Comcast, has struck deals with other media companies to provide its service under different names like T-Mobile Play, and Redbox Live TV.
While HBO Max and Disney+ are only offering paid versions of their streaming services, Comcast is offering a free version of its new service Peacock, named after the NBC mascot. While the paid version unlocks the entire service for only $5 with ads, the free version still includes a great deal of ad-supported shows and movies, as well as a live TV section with content from The Office, SNL, and NBC News. There's a great deal of content to be had by Comcast, like NBC, USA, E!, Syfy, as well as NBC News and NBC Sports, in addition to movies by Universal and content from outside Comcast. Not a bad service for free.
The Roku Channel
Roku is unique in that unlike Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV and Chromecast, Roku is not owned by a company that runs its own streaming store and platform. At least not in a massive sense. Roku does run its own free streaming service, The Roku Channel. Roku, in addition to being a hardware company, makes a good amount of money selling ads to its over 40 million active users, and while The Roku Channel isn't exclusive to a Roku device, there's certainly a big market in streaming. The main section of the Roku Channel promotes on-demand content as well as free live TV. The service sets itself apart by offering a highly categorized experience to help users find what they are looking for better, and in doing so keeps live and on-demand programming in the same experience, something other platforms can't match.
Tubi, Vudu, Popcornflix, IMDb TV, Plex
I mean no disrespect to these platforms by grouping them together, but there isn't too much unique to say about these other platforms individually. Some of them have big companies behind them, like Tubi is owned by Fox, Vudu by Walmart, and IMDb TV by Amazon. The only odd one is Plex, which the tech savvy of you may be familiar with primarily as media server software. They recently got into free on-demand and live TV content, enticing users to never have a reason to leave the Plex app. They're all definitely worth adding to your device or smart TV for the low, low cost of free.
Your Local Library
You people probably drive past your local library and not think much of it, but your library may be a free mini Blockbuster. Many local libraries have a big selection of movies and TV shows in physical form, but even less known is that many libraries offer a streaming service. Many college students are probably aware that their college pays for databases with collections of articles and other academic material, but your local library, and possibly your college, may also pay for services like Hoopla, or Kanopy. With a library card, you'll have access to these services at no cost to you, sometimes ad free, as the service is being paid for by the library. It's worth a visit the next time you drive past your library to see what they have in DVDs as well as for a streaming service.
It's easier than ever to save money while enjoying movies and shows you (probably) like. Of course, these free services may not have the most popular of choices compared to a paid service, it still doesn't hurt to have these free services on your smart TV or device just in case you find something you like.