10 Best Free Streaming Services to Use Right Now
If you're looking to save money and cut the cord at the same time, these free streaming services will save you cash without sacrificing great programming
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RD.com, Getty Images, via peacocktv.com, via vix.com, via kanopy.com, via amazon.com
Saving on streaming services
Saving money is important to most of us, especially right now, amid inflation and rising costs. If you’re one of the millions of people canceling cable and opting for free streaming services instead, you’ll be in good company: Just like gas or automobiles, entertainment is one of the things many money experts tend to buy cheap by opting for services supported by ads or available through a local library. But with so many streaming service options available now, it can become overwhelming to decide what to do once you’ve actually cut the cord, and you may wonder if you’ll be sacrificing quality to save a few bucks.
Mark Graham, the editor-in-chief of Decider, a site dedicated to streaming content, doesn’t think so. “With economic fears and inflation squeezing disposable income, many are wondering how to cut their costs but still be able to stream great movies and shows. I recommend sampling some FAST (free ad-supported television) services like Tubi, Pluto TV or Amazon’s Freevee,” Graham says. “These services have vast libraries of premium on-demand content for adults and kids alike, and they’re all free—you just have to be willing to sit through a few ads, just like you would watching regular broadcast TV.”
It’s true that none of the free streaming platforms can provide you with the answers to questions like “What happens to Eloise on Bridgerton season 2?” or “Will The Crown season 5 cover Princess Diana’s death?” the way Netflix can, but most of them have content libraries that feature some of the best TV shows and best movies of all time. Want to catch up on Murder, She Wrote or Lost for free? You can do that on Amazon Freevee. Want to check out some classic sitcoms like The Office or Everybody Hates Chris? Peacock has them.
So with literally dozens of free streaming services out there, all of them with extensive catalogs, how do you know which ones are right for you?
What streaming services are completely free?
We’ve gone deep into the catalogs of services like Pluto TV, Amazon Freevee and Tubi, which are just a few of the free options available right now, to figure out the pros and cons of each so you know which ones are worth your time. All the streaming services listed below have at least one free tier—though you may have to sit through some ads.
RD.com, Getty Images, via peacocktv.com
Best overall free streaming service
Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, has a free, ad-supported tier of service that offers thousands of hours of movies and TV shows, as well as a limited selection of live TV and sports. Peacock also offers two paid tiers—one for $5 per month with ads, and one for $10 per month without ads—which offer even more programming, including Peacock Originals like Girls5Eva. The good news is that you can watch classic TV shows like Leave It to Beaver and The Carol Burnett Show, sitcoms like 30 Rock and The Office, and critically acclaimed films like John Wick and 1917—all for free on the ad-supported level.
- Has an impressive library of classic and new TV shows and movies
- Does not require credit card to access free tier
- Offers previews of Peacock Originals
- Only offers a portion of what Peacock Premium offers
- Cannot watch live sports events
- Not available on Amazon Fire TV devices
RD.com, Getty Images, via amazon.com
Best selection of newer TV shows
There are lots of ways to get free stuff on Amazon, and Amazon Freevee is one of them. Freevee, which was formerly known as IMDb TV, offers quite a few original series, including the Bosch spinoff Bosch: Legacy, as well as Hollywood Houselift with Jeff Lewis and Judy Justice, which is more than most free streaming platforms. In addition, their selection of prestige TV shows is really great for those who want to binge their way through recent classics like Lost, Mad Men, 24 and Alias, all of which are available in their entirety on the platform. Of course, there’s more than just TV on Freevee: The streamer has some of the best movies available too, including The Road, Emma and Logan, and loads of funny movies like Shrek and The Aristocrats.
- Amazing catalog of recent TV shows
- Hundreds of live entertainment channels
- Lots of Freevee original series
- No live broadcast TV or sports
- Automatically available to customers with the Amazon Prime app
RD.com, Getty Images, via kanopy.com
Best for indie movies
Kanopy is a streaming service with an impressive collection of independent films, classic movies and documentaries, and the best part is that the only thing you need to access it is a library card. Many public libraries, as well as dozens of colleges and universities, provide free access to the platform, which hosts hundreds of movies, including critically acclaimed award winners like Moonlight and Chinatown, and cult classics like Harold and Maude, all ad-free. Kanopy has tons of great educational shows for younger children too, including animated versions of Mo Willems’s Pigeon books and the Max & Ruby series.
- Incredible selection of independent movies and documentaries from studios like A24 and PBS
- Great children’s shows and films
- Must have access to a participating library
- Selection changes regularly
- Your library may set a limit for how many shows or films can be streamed
RD.com, Getty Images, via crackle.com
Best for Anglophiles
Crackle’s selection of TV shows and films is eclectic. While you’ll find some great classic shows like Barney Miller and Alf, you’ll also discover some of the best British exports of the past few decades. Dark comedies like Black Books and Ricky Gervais’s Extras, the long-running detective series Midsomer Murders and cult favorite The Mighty Boosh are all there, as are dozens of other series that originally aired on the BBC and beyond.
- Great selection of international shows
- No login required to watch
- Have to sift through lots of unfamiliar titles
RD.com, Getty Images, via haystacknews.com
Best for watching the news
Haystack is a streaming platform that focuses on one thing and one thing only: the news. You can curate the channels you watch to include live coverage of breaking news, international outlets, local stations and weather, so you can stay up to date on everything that’s going on in the world in real time. An ad-free version called Haystack Premium is available for $5 per month.
- Viewers can customize their experience to see only news about topics they choose
- Offers both on-demand and live viewing
- Local news is limited to certain regions
- All content is news related
Best multimedia service
Hoopla is another free service available at many public libraries, and like Kanopy, it offers a broad selection of great films, both independent and mainstream. But Hoopla also offers much more—consider it a one-stop entertainment shop where you can also find e-books, audiobooks, comic books, magazines and a music library with some of the best soundtracks ever, from musicals like Hamilton, Encanto, Sing 2 and more, all available for free.
- Contains a vast array of content suitable for every age
- Movies and shows are ad-free
- Not available at every library
- Content may vary, depending on the library
RD.com, Getty Images, via plutotv.com
Best for watching live TV
Pluto TV is owned and operated by Paramount, and as a result, it has the advantage of offering thousands of titles produced by that company over the past few decades. Its extensive content library of TV shows and movies includes shows from networks like CBS, Showtime, Comedy Central and MTV, scary movies like the entire Friday the 13th franchise, and dozens of live TV channels that include local and national news, sports and more.
- Thousands of hours of classic TV shows and movies available both live and on-demand
- A wide array of Spanish-language programming
- No login required
- Abbreviated seasons of many premier shows
- Limited live sports programming
RD.com, Getty Images, via tubitv.com
Biggest free content library
Tubi boasts the largest content library of all the free streaming sites, with more than 40,000 titles to choose from. This includes hundreds of kids’ shows like Barney and Yo Gabba Gabba, cartoon shows like Pokémon The Series and The Flintstones, plus films like The Matrix, The Sandlot and Hulk. Tubi also has an extensive catalog of originals, like the films A Violent Man and Unborn. What’s more, Tubi offers a live TV experience similar to Pluto TV’s, with several news networks and sports replay channels available, but very little in the way of live sports or any other live broadcast TV options.
- Extensive library of shows and movies
- Live TV option
- Great selection of kids’ programming
- Much of the content is on the older side
RD.com, Getty Images, via vix.com
Best Spanish-language streaming service
ViX is a platform introduced earlier this year in the U.S., Mexico and most of Latin America by Spanish-language behemoth TelevisaUnivision. The platform is an ad-supported site that offers 100 channels and more than 40,000 hours of on-demand content, much of it coming from Televisa and Univision, the two titans of Spanish-language television, which merged earlier this year. The service offers hundreds of telenovelas, Hollywood movies and children’s programming. While details are vague, there will eventually be a live sports component as well. (ViX+, the premium tier of this streaming service, will run you $6.99 per month and will definitely offer live soccer and other sports, in addition to original series and films, including several produced by Salma Hayek’s Ventanarosa Productions.)
- The biggest Spanish-language streaming service available
- The relatively new service is still confirming details of what is included in the ad-supported version
RD.com, Getty Images, via youtube.com
Best way to discover new-to-you content
You can find just about every kind of show on YouTube. The site is home to countless web series and short video clips, most uploaded by independent creators, who do everything from ASMR to unboxing videos to actual scripted series. (Want to know just how much YouTubers make? In some cases, up to $12 million!) Along with those, you can also browse through a vast array of feature films and shows. Not sure what to watch next? No worries—the site will serve you suggestions of more films based on your preferences and past watches, allowing you to fall into that infinite spiral of content consumption. (I mean, sometimes that’s not a bad thing?) Thousands of titles are available to watch for free—with ads—with no signup required, and thousands more are available to rent or buy individually, with no subscription necessary.
- Access to everything from web series and short clips to full-length feature films and TV shows
- Parental controls are available
- Some YouTube content can be unregulated or pirated
- Mark Graham, editor-in-chief of Decider