Best Free Video Streaming Services
While many cord cutters are stretching their budgets to accommodate all the marquee titles out there, we also have the option to stream a ton of content for free, as long as we’re willing to put up with occasional advertisements.
These services are often called ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) or free ad-supported television (FAST). The number of commercials will vary, depending on the service and the content you’re streaming. Some services have an easy interface, while others feel clunky and slow.
We’ve reviewed each of these services to give you an idea of what you can expect and which are most worth your time. Happy streaming!
Best Free Services
The Streamable’s Choice
Perhaps the most well-known free streaming service, Pluto TV deserves its reputation as a heavyweight in the space. Pluto TV’s default presentation appears in the form of 350 live streaming channels, with some dedicated to specific genres and others simply showing 24/7 loops of different TV shows.
Pluto TV also has a few channels that feel like traditional live news, like Sky News, NBC News Now, and Bloomberg News.
In addition to this, Pluto TV has a large selection of on-demand titles, including some major blockbusters and award winners that rotate through the service, like “The Hunger Games” saga, “RoboCop,” and “The Fighter.” If you see a title you like, you can add it to your watchlist.
You’ll also get several channels that show music videos from various genres or specific eras.
If you like a specific channel, you can “pin” it to the top of your channel lineup as a favorite.
Whether you feel like throwing on some background TV or settling in for a movie night, Pluto TV is up to the challenge.
- Huge variety of live streaming options
- Watchlist feature
- Wide variety of content
- Spanish language options
- Live streaming channels can grow stale with repeat viewing
- Commercial breaks tend to be highly repetitive
With 45,000+ movies shows, Tubi is the rare free streaming service that offers some quality amid the low-budget fluff. It offers more titles than any other streaming service, free or paid. You’ll definitely see some films and shows you recognize.
Tubi offers many well-curated categories like anime, action, faith, comedy, LGBTQ, romance, and sci-fi & fantasy. There are also more thoughtful categories like cult classics, highly rated on Rotten Tomatoes, and “not on Netflix.” This ability to navigate titles makes it a standout in the category.
You’ll also find exercise videos, travel shows, and stand-up comedy performances. There’s even a separate kids section so parents can switch to that mode without fear of their children stumbling back into the more adult titles. Tubi’s variety is quite impressive, and there is even original content as well.
The service offers 220 virtual channels as well.
- Large library includes some A-list titles and award winners
- Separate section for kids
- Watchlist feature
- Lots of variety
- Commercial breaks not as bad as other services
- Some films not presented in original aspect ratio
Like its namesake streaming device, The Roku Channel offers a simple, clean interface packed with content. One major strike against it is that it doesn’t work with all devices, but it’s a great choice if you have one of the supported options.
You’ll find 453 live linear streaming channels with free movies and TV shows on The Roku Channel. Users will have access to several popular shows, including “The Bachelorette,” “24,” and “Alias.” Roku Channel has more than 80,000 titles available, second only to Tubi.
Roku Channel is also notable for their original productions, like the critically acclaimed “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.”
You’ll also find some hit TV series from the past few decades, including “Quantum Leap,” “Highway to Heaven,” “The A-Team,” “Coach,” “Hart to Hart,” “Who’s the Boss?” “Bewtiched,” “Benson,” and “What’s Happening!!”
The movie catalog is strong, featuring some major hits like “The Fugitive,” “In the Line of Fire,” “Signs,” “Memento,” and “Galaxy Quest.”
A nice kids section allows you to browse by specific characters or by the age of your child.
You’ll also find the old Quibi catalog rebranded as “Roku Originals.”
- Lots of content, including some high-profile movies
- Most free channels of all free services
- Kids section
- Flexibility to upgrade
- Roku Originals
- Not compatible with all devices
- Navigation can sometimes be an endless scroll
- Not always easy to separate TV and movies
Plex is an incredible option for users who may have movies or music on their personal computers, since you’re able to use the service to curate your own private on demand streaming library. You could also share those libraries with friends (as long as you’re not sharing copyrighted material).
Beyond that amazing feature, Plex does offer free on demand content as well. What’s interesting is that most of the Crackle catalog is incorporated into Plex, but Plex offers even more, which essentially nullifies the need for Crackle altogether. There aren’t as many A-list titles on Plex as you’ll find with some other services, but there are some gems if you’re willing to dig.
Plex has 330+ free virtual channels. There are even karaoke channels.
Plex also allows for podcast integration, so it can be your one-stop streaming destination for nearly anything you’d like to enjoy.
- Incredible versatility
- Ability to stream and share personal libraries
- On demand and live streaming options
- Commercials can be significantly louder than other services
- Advanced features may be confusing for some users
- No designated kids section
Best for Kids
If you have small children, PBS Kids is nothing short of a godsend. With a strong lineup of beloved shows, the app can keep kids mesmerized for hours. The available episodes do rotate every few weeks, so parents won’t feel trapped by hearing the same episodes over and over into infinity.
The service allows for offline downloads to keep your little ones entertained when you’re away from Wi-Fi.
If your family loves the content, you can upgrade to an inexpensive subscription through Amazon Prime that allows access to every episode of the PBS Kids lineup.
- Offline downloads
- Beloved children’s content
- Worry-free library for parents
- Nothing of interest for older children or adults
- Library limited to a few episodes per show unless you upgrade
Freevee’s selection ranges from great movies like “1917,” “12 Angry Men,” and “Casino” to groundbreaking shows like “Mad Men,” “24,” “The X-Files,” and “Lost.” You’ll also find classic TV shows like “Bewitched,” “All in the Family,” and “Columbo.”
The service has 260+ free virtual channels.
You’ll also see a handful of Freevee originals like “Alex Rider,” “Bosch: Legacy,” “Judy Justice,” “Sprung,” and “Top Class.”
- Freevee Originals
- Occasional blockbusters and classics
- Terrible user interface
- Commercials very repetitive
Kanopy is a streaming platform for independent films and documentaries. It has a collection of more than 30,000 films such as a wide array of dramas, comedies, biopics, and television series. The library includes award-winning films and shows from major television networks like HISTORY, A&E, and PBS.
Kanopy started in 2008 to provide films to academic institutions. The service is completely free, but only available for members of participating libraries or college universities. Viewers get 10 Play Credits each month for all the content in the regular Kanopy collection. There are some Credit-Free movies you can watch and the entire Kanopy Kids library has unlimited viewing.
Haystack News is a streaming service that pulls together news coverage from 400 local, national, and international providers. Users will see reports from ABC Owned Television Stations, CBS Television Stations, Cox Media Group, Fox Television Stations, Hearst Television, Hubbard Broadcasting, Nexstar Media Group, Scripps and more. You can use the service for free with ads or eliminate commercials for $4.99 / måned.
Haystack News national/international programming providers include ABC News, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, CBSN, Cheddar, CNET, Euronews, GameSpot, Newsy, and Yahoo Finance.
When you first use the app, you’re asked which categories you’d like in your daily headlines: weather, current events, science & technology, entertainment news, business & finance, international news, and/or politics.
Roku users can get headlines in a Haystack News screensaver. Users can also customize the “Newsline” ticker with real-time updates on the stocks in their portfolios.
NewsON provides instant access to live and on-demand newscasts from 275+ local TV station partners in 165+ U.S. markets. Viewers can personalize their experience by setting favorite stations and watching breaking news coverage of major events and storms from multiple local stations. The service covers more than 80% of the U.S. population.
Participating station groups include Altice USA, Berkshire Hathaway, Block Communications, Cowles Company, Cox Media Group, Fort Myers Broadcasting Company, Forum Communications, Hearst Television, Heritage Broadcasting Company, Hubbard Broadcasting, McKinnon Broadcasting, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and TEGNA.
Best for Anime
If you love anime, Funimation has you covered with free viewing options. The service offers hundreds of dubbed shows. Funimation’s search options and interface are sleek and easily navigated.
You’ll get access to a solid collection of classic anime like “One Piece” and “Sword Art Online.” If you enjoy the free option, you can upgrade to different tiers for ad-free viewing, offline downloads, and more.
For a more detailed comparison of anime streaming services, see The Streamable's Anime Guide.
- Lots of dubbed anime
- Straightforward UI
- Quality content
- Only good for anime fans
- Anime catalog not entirely comprehensive
- Service basically on life support since most titles moved to Crunchyroll
Another great option if you have kids, Sensical is a free streaming service for children ages 2-10. It includes on-demand access to 15,000+ hand-selected videos and 50+ topic-based channels.
Sensical serves three distinct audiences: preschoolers (ages 2-4), little kids (ages 5-7), and big kids (8-10). Each child can have his or her own profile, and parents can get weekly or monthly reports on what their children are watching and learning.
Every video is viewed, vetted, and rated by dozens of individuals trained in child development.
While PBS Kids offers a slightly better experience for children, Sensical is a worthy addition to a parent’s child-calming arsenal.
- Great parental controls
- Different content curated by age
- Virtual live streaming channels by topic
- Slim library may get stale
- No offline viewing
- Almost no movies
Much like Pluto TV, Xumo launches with a virtual live TV channel lineup. There are some unique offerings here, including History Shorts, Hallmark Movies & More, and channels with magazine ties like Vogue, GQ, Cooking Light, Field & Stream, and Time.
Xumo’s movie library is fairly thin, quality-wise. You can browse by genre, and most sections offer 100-200 films, though you may have only heard of 3-4.
The on demand library tends to pull primarily from Xumo’s streaming channels, so you won’t find much by way of blockbuster titles.
Xumo has about 300 live streaming channels.
Xumo does offer some more thoughtful streaming options, like a science and tech section.
- Offers both virtual live channels and on demand
- Science & Tech channels
- Streaming music channels
- Latinx streaming channels
- Movie library is weak
- Less well-known entertainment options
Local Now aims to combine an on demand catalog of movies and TV with virtual live streaming channels, similar to Pluto TV. You also get access to some local content, as the service provides streams from major markets like New York, Denver, Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City, Nashville, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Diego, and West Palm Beach.
The on demand catalog is so comically bad that it’s barely worth mentioning. There is a small section of Local Now original programs, however.
- Variety of content
- News streams from some major markets
- Some customization based on your location
- On demand content is laughably bad
- Not as much variety as top-tier free services
If you enjoy watching local news, VUit might be the perfect free streaming option. The service harnesses content from over 200 partner stations around the United States, allowing users to get a look at news and events across the country.
While this is a narrowly focused service, it can be a fun diversion or a comforting lifeline for homesick people who miss the towns where they grew up.
- Tons of local news content
- Glimpse into lots of small markets
- Brutally repetitive commercials
- Generally low production value
Very Local is a free streaming service providing local news, weather and exclusive local original series from all 27 Hearst Television markets.
Although Sling TV is most often thought of as a cable TV substitute, many people don’t know that you can watch free content on Sling TV without paying a dime. They call the service Sling Freesteam.
You’ll find news channels like ABC News Live, CBS News, and Scripps News. For general entertainment, you’ll see free channels with content from MTV, Comedy Central, and BET. There’s even an Elvis channel. You’ll even get Jimmy Kimmel highlights for free.
For kids, you’ll even find some Sensical channels and Nick Jr shows.
There are also “sneak peeks” available for services and channels like AMC+, MGM+, STARZ, and TNT, so you can watch free episodes of some prestige shows.
It’s worth exploring the selection just to see if you like the Sling TV interface. If so, you can always upgrade to a paid channel package.
- Varied channel selection
- Ability to add popular cable channels for a fee
- Can rent new movies through the platform
- Good international selection, especially Spanish-language
- Most channels are duplicates of those found on Pluto TV
Entertainment fans may not find much to love about Crackle, but the service is free. The library feels more scattershot than some other services, and it feels more geared toward nostalgic audiences.
Even more puzzling, most of the Crackle library is available through Plex, which somewhat nullifies the reason for Crackle to exist as a standalone service.
You will find a small library of Crackle original titles and a decent stand-up comedy library, but it’s unlikely you’ll make Crackle part of your regular viewing habit unless it has a show you love.
- A handful of classic movies and shows
- Some original shows and movies
- Stand-up comedy videos
- Lots of poor content crowds out the gems
- Poor user interface
- No profiles
- No kids section
- Limited advertisers means seeing multiple ads for the same product
Stirr has a few interesting viewing options, but it probably won’t be your go-to service.
You can watch limited episodes (3-4) of “CSI: Miami,” “The X-Files,” and “Quantum Leap,” along with some curious TV artifacts like the live sketch show “Fridays” that featured a young Michael Richards and Larry David.
Movies are mostly the low budget variety, like “The Fast and the Fierce,” which really wants you to assume it’s another movie franchise.
The service does have an interesting library of stand-up comedy.
In markets where viewers have a Sinclair-owned TV station, users will be able to view local news content on some devices. There are 100+ live channels available.
The overall lack of content makes Stirr a nice option if you’re bored with the other services, but you’ll be scraping the bottom of the barrel here.
- A few interesting TV artifacts
- Nice stand-up comedy options
- Local news for some users
- Weak library only offering a few episodes per show
- Lack of blockbuster movies
- No kids section
- Poor user interface
As free streaming services go, the Cineverse library just doesn’t offer much premium content. As you scroll the titles, it’s unlikely you’ll see anything familiar.
The “classic cinema” section may offer some titles worth considering, including “My Man Godfrey,” “Charade,” and “His Girl Friday.”
There are a handful of Rifftrax titles where comedians make fun of B-movies. The same format applies with the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” channel. You’ll also find a selection of standup comedy performances.
Users can rent new and movies through the platform. Prices typically range from $3.99-$19.99.
On some platforms, the service is called “Cinehouse.”
- Ability to rent A-list titles
- Free titles are low-budget films you’ve probably never heard of
WaterBear is a free, environmentally-focused streaming video service with award-winning documentaries, enlightening short films, and impactful series.
WaterBear has a global network of more than 100 NGO partners and users can join their communities directly through the platform, by taking action for the causes that you care about most.
BYUtv is a free video streaming service created by Brigham Young University. Its purpose is “to create purposeful, engaging viewing and listening experiences that entertain, inspire, uplift, and improve families and communities.” Popular shows include the Angel Studios Jesus Christ biography “The Chosen” and the long-running sketch comedy series “Studio C.”
Redbox offers some of the same channels as the top players on this list, though there’s very little unique here. Since the service was bought out in 2022, it’s essentially lost its momentum.
The service does offer local news from Cox stations in Boston, Seattle, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Orlando, Jacksonville, Memphis, Tulsa, and Dayton. For the most part, the free channels, films, and shows aren’t worth opening the app.
Redbox is most likely to appeal to users who use the platform to rent or buy movies. Streaming rentals typically run $1.99-$5.99, though you can sometimes rent theatrical releases early for $19.99. Purchases are often $9.99-$19.99. Users can sometimes get a discount by purchasing movie bundles. Older films are usually less expensive than new releases.
- Ability to keep rentals and purchases on same app as free content
- News streams from some major markets
- TV content very limited, usually only one season on demand
- Clunky UI
Reveel is a free streaming service featuring independent films. You may not recognize the titles, but you may see the work of the next great director or actor if you poke around long enough. Unlike most free services, there are no ads on Reveel.
Fawesome is an ad-supported streaming service with 10,000+ movies and shows. Users will see movies from studios like Paramount, Lionsgate, FilmRise, Cinedigm, and more.
Popcornflix is an OTT service offering free ad-supported streaming video of feature-length movies, webisodes, original content, and film school originals.
The service is completely free, however, ads run every 15 minutes and last a minimum of 30 seconds long. Some content is available to rent ad-free for $0.99.
The platform is owned by Screen Media Ventures. In 2017, Popcornflix and its parent company were acquired by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment.
It’s also worth checking to see which service your local library aligns with. Kanopy and Hoopla are the most popular, and each allows a limited number of movies and TV shows available for free, as long as you put in the information from your library card.
One thing we can guarantee: Almost every free service, no matter how small, will have at least one Nicolas Cage movie.