There are some excellent free streaming sites and apps out there. In this blog post, I will highlight some of the best.
On the Shall I Stream It blog, I try to highlight some of the best streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, Disney Plus, and Discovery Plus. While these streaming services offer great content, they all have one thing in common: they cost money! There's good news, though. There are some excellent free streaming sites out there, too.
If you've ever browsed through the app store on a Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or other device you've undoubtably come across tons of free streaming apps. It's great that you have lots of choices but unfortunately, lots of these apps just aren't very good.
In this blog post, I will highlight some of the best free streaming sites and apps so you will know exactly what to stream. That way you can avoid the low quality streaming sites and get only the best of what's out there! These include streaming sites with both on-demand and live content so you can get the best of both worlds.
Netflix ushered in a new era of streaming that completely transformed the way we watch movies and TV shows. While I enjoy the on-demand access of having thousands of shows at my fingertips, sometimes I miss just flipping through the channels. Pluto TV provides just that. You get hundreds of live streaming tv channels, all completely free.
Just like good ol' fashioned television, you can expect ad breaks. However, there are no more or less than a typical TV network.
The channels range from those devoted to movies, sports, news. reality shows, classic sitcoms, and music. Many of them are Pluto-specific versions of cable networks like MTV, Showtime, and TV Land. There's even a channel with content from Paramount Plus, since they are owned by the same parent company.
It's available on a wide range of devices, although the exception seems to be Xbox game consoles.
Pluto TV also offers on-demand content. This tends to cycle in and out pretty frequently. At the time of writing it includes classic James Bond films, some Tyler Perry movies, Cloverfield, Minority Report, and some older TV shows like Spin City and Dawson's Creek.
Take note that one thing you won't be able to do is record shows. Otherwise, Pluto TV makes for a decent streaming app if you're looking to veg out and not give too much thought to what's on.
Check out Pluto TV here
This streaming service is connected to the famous Internet Movie Database, now owned (like so many other things) by Amazon. They provide ad-supported movies and TV shows on-demand.
Amongst the free streaming apps I've tried, IMDb TV has among the best selection of movies and TV shows in their streaming library. You'll find big name TV shows like Mad Men, Chicago Fire, 24 and My Name is Earl. Movies include Star Trek, Snowpiercer, and Blue Valentine. They are even are getting into original programming with big names attached like Norman Lear and Judge Judy.
Where IMDb TV begins to stumble a bit is the lack of availability of the standalone IMDb TV app. To watch IMDb TV, you must either visit the IMDb website through your browser, use an Amazon Fire TV device, or go through the Amazon Prime Video app if you're using anything else like Roku or Apple TV. While going through the Amazon Prime Video app is a minor hindrance, I'd prefer to use a standalone IMDb TV app on my Apple TV the way I could on an Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Besides that, you get a great selection of content on IMDb TV and it's worth checking out.
Check out IMDb TV here
This service focuses on documentaries and critically-acclaimed feature films. Not only is it free to use, but there are no ads! The catch is you must have access to Kanopy through either a university or a public library. The good news is that there are currently over 4,000 public libraries that use Kanopy including the Seattle Public Library, Los Angeles Public Library, and Denver Public Library, among many others.
To get signed up, you very your membership with either a public library card or university login. Once you do that, you'll set up your username and password for your Kanppy account and have immediate access to their streaming content library.
Movies on Kanopy include content from The Criterion Collection, A24, and Paramount Pictures, to name a few. There is also kids content from PBS Kids and Sesame Street, as well as classes from The Great Courses.
Kanopy is available on a range of devices including smart TVs, streaming devices like Roku and Apple TV, mobile devices, or through their website with a web browser.
Check out Kanopy here here
There's a certain formula a lot of the free streaming sites and apps follow. That seems to be 1) find a whole bunch of random on-demand content 2) slap some ads on it and 3) profit. Tubi technically follows this model, but manages to do it much better than some of the competition.
Tubi offers a large, on-demand library that features all kinds of niche content plus some major Hollywood blockbusters mixed in. Their streaming library changes frequently but at the time of writing this blog post included Kung Fu Panda, Divergent, Annabelle, Corpse Bride, and Air Force One.
In my opinion, Tubi is best for its niche programming that focuses on content you won't find on other streaming services. This includes independent films, classic movies, Westerns, Christian movies, LGBTQ+ films, martial arts films, international content, and B-movie horror. I co-host a podcast dedicated to obscure movies called Fringewatching and have found Tubi to be a prime source for overlooked movies.
Check out Tubi here
When I first downloaded Peacock, I thought I would be checking out a paid subscription service, What I didn't realize was how much of their content is truly free. Peacock combines some of the best elements of other streaming services and rolls them into one tidy little package.
Much like Pluto TV (mentioned above), they offer free live channels with curated streams around news, sports, entertainment, and reality shows. Some channels feature specific shows streaming 24/7 like SNL or Law & Order. Take note, though, that much like Pluto TV they do not offer the ability to record shows.
That really isn't a big deal considering their selection of on-demand will get you covered in most cases. If you watch the free version of Peacock, you'll have access to a huge library of content from NBCUniversal including TV shows like 30 Rock, Charmed, Psych, and Chicago Fire. Free movies (at the time of publication) include Jurassic Park, Pretty Woman, The Maxtrix, Ghostbusters, and the first few Harry Potter movies.
The caliber of content that is on Peacock for free is higher than that of, say, Tubi, by a significant margin. Of course, you do still have ads. If you want to get rid of ads, or access some of their shows and movies that are behind a paywall (like most seasons of The Office or Peacock Originals like Girls5eva) you'll need to pay for either Peacock Premium or Premium Plus.
While sticking with the free version of Peacock will certainly make you envious of those with a Premium subscription, the amount of popular shows and movies you get on the streaming service for free is hard to beat.
Check out Peacock here
Free Streaming Sites Wrap-Up
This blog post merely scratches the surface of the free streaming services that are out there. I've tried my best to highlight some of the best ones. Have you tried any of these free streaming sites? Let me know what your experience was like in the comment section down below!