Bored With Streaming? 11 Great Services You Can Try For Free
While most streaming services are saving their marquee content for the fall, summer is the perfect time to branch out and try something new. There’s a lot of great content outside the big players like Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney+. What’s more, most smaller services offer free trials, ranging from 7 days to a full 30 days. With a little clever maneuvering, you can always have a new library to sample in addition to your usual favorites.
Here are some standout streamers worth sampling this summer.
Paramount+ flies under the radar of most streaming subscribers, but there’s so much to like about this service. It’s a must-have streamer if you love Star Trek. It’s also home to “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan’s new series “1883” and “Mayor of Kingstown.” Kids will love the Nickelodeon section with “SpongeBob Squarepants,” “PAW Patrol,” and more. You’ll also get standout cinematic classics like “The Godfather” trilogy, Indiana Jones films, “Top Gun,” and many “Mission: Impossible” flicks.
With a generous 30-day free trial, you’ll know whether it’s worth the subscription moving forward.
This is a great option for HBO Max subscribers who’ve already run through that library. You’ll get similar adult-themed series like “Yellowjackets,” “Billions,” “Shameless,” “Homeland,” “Ray Donovan,” “Dexter,” “Weeds,” “Nurse Jackie,” “House of Lies,” “Californication,” and “Queer as Folk.”
The documentary section is a special treat with titles like “Kobe Bryant’s Muse,” “Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic,” “Belushi,” “The Comedy Store,” and “We Need to Talk About Cosby.”
Showtime also has a fantastic movie library, and it’s easy to hit the highlights with a full 30-day free trial. If you have Paramount+ or Hulu, you can stack a Showtime subscription through the service, though the free trial is shorter.
Do you love a blood-curdling scream while you stream? Check out horror-focused Shudder for blood and guts galore. If you have Amazon Prime Video, it’s easy to add Shudder as a “channel” that you can access within the larger Prime Video ecosystem.
Subscribers to nugs.net get access to 25,000+ live concert recordings, including performances from Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Jack White, Pearl Jam, Dead & Company, and Billy Strings. Livestreamed performances are available in HD or 4K. Listen to new and archive recordings in MP3 quality or opt for even better sound with lossless MQA 24-bit and immersive 360 Reality Audio.
Free live streams are available for some concerts.
Celebrate the best of British TV with this niche streaming service. Acorn TV is most known for its documentaries, mysteries, and especially series like “Midsomer Murders,” “Queens of Mystery,” and “Line of Duty.” Add this service through Prime Video for maximum flexibility.
If you have preschool children, we can’t say enough about PBS Kids. With fantastic shows like “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Super Why,” “Word Girl,” and “Sesame Street,” your children are in good hands. The standalone app is free and offers a rotating collection of episodes. If you want the full libraries, simply sign up through Amazon Prime Video and keep your kids entertained all year long.
The Criterion Channel is a movie lover’s paradise, featuring thousands of historically groundbreaking feature films since the dawn of cinema. Thematically programmed and tailored by genre, year, director, or themes, the service is a treasure trove of milestone movies and hidden gems. Here’s where you’ll find classics like Ikiru (1952), The Gold Rush (1925), Eraserhead (1978), Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), and many more.
The Criterion Channel has only a Standard (US$ 10.99) plan which you can purchase for one month or one year, but the plan can alternatively be gifted 1-9 months, the price going up ~$10 for each consecutive month. Available on devices in HD with offline download capability, the service is a must have for anyone interested in cinema history, or any film guru worth their salt.
If non-fiction is your jam, look no further than HISTORY Vault. You’ll get well-known series and documentaries like “American Restoration,” “Ice Road Truckers,” “Modern Marvels,” and “The Universe.” There are 100+ biographical documentaries spotlighting figures like Albert Einstein, Evel Knievel, and more. In the Military category, there are 200+ titles such as “A Distant Shore: African Americans of D-Day.”
Remember, lots of other streaming services are available totally free, as long as you’re willing to sit through the occasional ad. Here are some of our favorites:
Ad-supported Free Services
Tubi is a free video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 45,000+ movies and television shows - more than any other streaming service. Fox executives have called their service “TV on steroids.”
Tubi’s programming includes films and television series from Fox Entertainment, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, Disney, and more.
Pluto TV is a free live TV streaming service that provides more than 250 channels of live TV and thousands of on demand movies and TV shows.
Most of what you’ll find on Pluto TV qualifies as “background television.” It’s fine to keep on while you’re scrolling on your phone or cooking something in the kitchen.
Because these aren’t traditional live TV channels, it’s not a great option for live events, news, or sports, but it’s a solid choice for cord cutters who want to supplement their other services with some “comfort food” TV.
The Roku Channel is a free live TV streaming service that provides 300+ live linear streaming channels and more than 80,000 free movies and TV shows. The library contains entertainment from several different decades, including some major hits.
The service also made a splash by the acquisition of the Quibi library, now presented as Roku Originals. More original content is set to follow.
Users can add premium subscriptions to services like Showtime, STARZ, and AMC+ that can be accessed within the Roku Channel ecosystem.
Peacock is a subscription video streaming service from NBCUniversal that includes original shows, blockbuster movies, and classic television series. Peacock is home to “Yellowstone,” and “The Office,” as well as original hits like “Bel-Air.” You can also watch live sports including Sunday Night Football, Premier League, and exclusive MLB games. Peacock is also the exclusive home to many WWE events like WrestleMania. Starting Nov. 30, Premium Plus subscribers will be able to stream their local NBC feed in all 210 markets.
The company has acquired the rights to many classic shows like “Parks and Recreation,” and the entire Dick Wolf library including “Law & Order” and “Chicago Fire.”
The service also features blockbusters and critically-acclaimed films from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination and content acquired from Hollywood’s biggest studios.
Peacock has a lot of great free content, but you will need to pay up for full access to the library.
Plex is a free streaming service that includes on-demand access to 50,000+ movies and TV shows. The service also offers 250 free-to-stream live TV channels in 193 countries. Users can also connect Plex to their computers to stream and share any media they have on their hard drives.
The service also offers a universal watchlist - simply add the streaming services you subscribe to and Plex becomes an automatic launch portal for any show or movie. This saves you the trouble of looking up what is streaming where.
Plex offers a subscription tier that offers even more features for people who want more functionality, but it packs a powerful punch even in its free version.
Plex even offers a Plex Arcade option where you can play dozens of Atari classics plus your own collection of game ROMs and emulators on your favorite devices.
This is an incredibly flexible platform that’s perfect for fans of any media.