Where to stream free and legal content
If you're looking for ways to stream free and legal content, there's a large number of services out there for original, foreign films, even childhood favs.
Streaming free and legal content is no longer a difficult, arduous mission. Countless providers have popped up, and will continue to pop up, as more and more users get wind of the amazing amount of content out there, that is not only free and legal but also…. actually, really good. In previous installments of Cut the Cord, we’ve discussed a number of alternatives to cable, primarily, paid services that offer the television shows and movies you love.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the free legal options available for streaming media. If you’re looking for new content, original series, foreign films or even childhood favorites, there’s an increasingly large number of free services to choose from. The great thing about these services is they’re legal, easy to use and offer heaps of quality content.
Where to stream for free and legal content
With so many free streaming services available, there is no way we could possibly list them all. A Roku device alone has several hundred free channels available through their app store. We put together this shortlist to highlight just a few of the most popular streaming services on the market to get you started.
Crackle, owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc., offers a wide range of Sony movies and TV shows. They have a mix of Paramount films and a deal with NBCUniversal to bring over 140 NBCUniversal movies to Crackle each month. Titles include the original Star Trek films, Dr.Strangelove and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Crackle has several popular original shows such as a sports-themed version of Jeopardy and in addition to an eclectic collection of forgotten experiments and classics like Roseanne, 3rd Rock from the Sun, I Dream of Jeannie and Fantasy Island.
Many of the movies and TV shows on Crackle are only available for one month, but new content is added weekly so it’s best to check back regularly to see what’s new.
Tubi has the largest free catalog of movies and TV shows legally available online. Their partners are Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, MGM and Starz who license new movies every month, leaving you with A LOT of options. They also add new content weekly.
Tubi has all the categories you would expect (Kids, Comedy, etc) along with popular titles like There Will be Blood, Zoolander and Layer Cake. They’re also known for some of their more interesting movie categories like Grindhouse and Killer Kung Fu and have a wide selection of film festival winners, foreign films and TV shows from different countries, like Great Britain and Korea.
Speaking of TV shows, you’ll find some overlap with Crackle with added classics like Degrassi: The Next Generation and Mr. Bean.
Amazon has owned the IMDB brand for some time. Keep in mind, this is an ad-supported streaming service and seems to have a lot of classic content, both old and new, to choose from. TV and movie titles like Rain Man, La La Land, Schitt's Creek and Columbo are some of the well-known.
Free streaming service Pluto TV is one of our faves. These guys roam the web for top-rated content from around the world and store it all in one convenient place. They have channels that focus on a wide range of content from technology to yoga, and gardening to sports.
The best thing about Pluto TV is that each channel is curated by experts. For instance, the MMA channel only shows content that has been handpicked by a retired MMA fighter, and the news channel is updated 24/7 by an expert in the broadcasting field. It was also recently acquired by ViacomCBS, so you can expect more popular CBS and Paramount content.
Programming highlights include live channels like CourtTV, NasaTV and Cheddar news. You’ll also find on-demand movies and be able to binge-watch channels devoted to many ViacomCBS properties, like MTV’s The Hills.
Pluto TV’s rich variety of sources not only offers something for everyone but is also an excellent source for unexpected new content, from Comedy Central offerings to kickboxing and wrestling (in addition to many oddities). If you’re interested, we also covered Pluto.TV in our App of the Week series on YouTube a while ago.
One other way to steam free and legal content is straight from your favorite channel’s website or streaming app. While some channels won’t allow you to watch any of their shows without a cable subscription, most offer some content for free.
Many channels like NBC (now Peacock), Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon have apps on devices like the Roku that offer free shows. We love these apps because while they may not allow you to watch a show’s full season, they do give you the opportunity to watch a recent episode you may have missed. Also, watching a few episodes in order to decide if you like a show before purchasing an entire season is a big plus.
Peacock is offering a free plan, which includes, classic and current shows, movies, kids shows, and news. Peacock Premium is available to eligible Xfinity customers at no additional cost.
Libraries and free streaming
It’s worth noting that libraries are not limited to just lending out old dusty books. As you may already know, many libraries now have the ability to share content digitally, which is pretty incredible.
Your local Library has gone digital with Kanopy. There’s a good chance your local library or university has a deal in place with Kanopy. If they do, you’ll have access to movies like Babel, Chinatown, Selma, Serpico, Airplane, The Big Short and many others. There’s also a selection of documentaries and independent films from around the world. Visit their site, check if your library has been made available and sign up using your library card. They also have a Kanopy Kids section that features a ton of fun and educational material for young ones to devour.
hoopla digital expands on Kanopy’s digital library idea, and also offers television shows, eBooks, comics and audiobooks. They claim to have hundreds of thousands of titles and add new content daily. You can download the app as well as download media while on Wi-Fi to watch or read on your device at a later date - and though there are no due dates, items will be removed from your device when the lending period is over!
Free media and endless streaming
Streaming free content - legally - is something we’re passionate about. We could go on and on about the many free content services available to cord cutters, but the best way to learn about these services is to head over to your streaming media player’s app store. Many of these streaming media players have thousands of apps available for free. Take some time and dig around the app store and you’ll be amazed at all the free content you can find. If you’ve got a favorite spot to legally stream free media, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.