One thing you won’t find with cable TV are free channels. But there are many free streaming-only services that offer everything from major movie studio releases to national news channels to original content created by these services. These no-cost services will interrupt your viewing with commercials, but if you like getting something for nothing and commercials don’t bother you, then check out what’s on tap with six streaming services and get started streaming on FairlawnGig!
Pluto TV is a comprehensive free streaming service with on-demand and live content that includes movies from major studios, TV series, many of the most popular national news programs, HGTV series and lifestyle channels, gaming, music, children’s programming and sports. Pluto TV has over 75 content partnerships with TV networks, studios, digital media companies and publishers that include A&E, Sky, NBC and Paramount.
What Sets Pluto TV Apart
How Pluto TV is different from other free services is its comprehensive slate of live channels, including national “cable” news programming such as MSNBC and Bloomberg. The live interface resembles a cable list of channels arranged by category and their airing time, while on-demand movies and TV shows display as large title photo blocks for easy browsing. Each day, there’s a “What’s On” video guide with clips and short descriptions. The channels you find can differ depending on your streaming device. While it works with most streaming boxes, the smart TVs are limited to Sony, Samsung and Vizio TV brands. No login is required, but to save your choices and get access to age-restricted content you might want to share your email address. Samsung just made a large investment in Pluto TV so look for more content and additions in the future. See what Pluto TV has to offer here.
Owned by Sony, Crackle serves up TV series and movies at no cost. Movies include recent large studio movies, documentaries and animé. You’ll also find TV series that encompass both the iconic (“All in the Family”) and new, original content like the legal drama “Sequestered” and Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”. Its interface is user-friendly with easy search options and you can set up a “watch later” list. Registration is not required (you can continue as a “guest”) but you may want to register with your email address in order to stream across multiple devices and save a list of your choices. You can watch on most smart phones, smart TVs and through most streaming boxes to your TV.
The Roku Channel
Available free with a Roku streaming device or Roku-enabled smart TV, The Roku Channel has license agreements with movie and TV studios. You’ll be able to watch current and classic movies, documentaries and TV series. The interface is easy to navigate with large photo blocks of their titles. A drawback is that there isn’t any way to save your choices in a list: you will have to choose and watch right away rather than saving for later viewing. No login required.
You’ll find movies on Tubi TV from major studios like Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM. Content includes movies, TV series and children’s programming. A movie section titled “Not on Netflix” has movies that are not available on Netflix. You can watch on most smart phones, smart TVs and to your TV with most streaming boxes. It’s easy to see what’s available as there are large photos and descriptions of each video. Registration is not required and you can choose to “continue as a guest” but with some content you will have to put in your email address and will be asked to verify your age. If you do register, you can pick up where you left off if you stop watching and then return and add your choices to a list to watch at any time.
This free service is geared to the film festival aficionado with thousands of independent films, documentaries, original comedy shorts, foreign films, classic movies and TV specials. The interface is grouped by categories and there is something for just about everyone. Some of the films have aired on PBS, but many are film festival award-winners that you won’t find in movie theaters or paid streaming service. SnagFilms is watchable on most mobile devices, to your TV using most streaming boxes and smart TVs. There are required logins with your email and age for certain content.
Streaming Broadcast TV: PBS, NBC ABC, FOX, the CW and CBS
Free broadcast channels also offer free streaming channels with their programming, so you don’t have to record on a DVR. You can binge watch as you find whole seasons available after they have aired. All the broadcast apps work with most mobile devices, smart TVs, and with most streaming boxes on TVs. Most PBS programs can be streamed live the same time it is shown on-air or immediately after programs air nationally. No sign-in is required initially but over time they do ask for your email. If you want to watch before a program has aired, or want access to exclusive programs, you can watch if you donate to your local PBS station.
NBC, ABC, FOX, and the CW allow you to watch programs eight days after they’ve been shown on-air. Some programs, particularly new series that they are promoting do not require a waiting period. No login is required if you don’t see the “lock” icon, which disappears after the waiting period and after a whole series has aired, you can watch a whole season as you like. CBS only offers a free CBS app for mobile devices but you can only watch on your TV with the streaming device Google Chromecast. They do have a monthly paid service, CBS Direct Access with a free trial that you can watch without any waiting period on your TV and mobile devices that has their broadcast content and original content not available on broadcast.