Are you looking for a way to watch your favorite show without breaking the bank? You are in luck – technology has made watching TV more affordable than ever before. Cutting the cord and using free TV apps is one of the ways to make this happen.
With so many great options for live streaming or on-demand content, you will be able to find something for everyone in your household without paying a hefty bill on a cable TV subscription. Here, we’ll be sharing some of the best free tv and streaming apps currently available in the US and some worldwide. Read on if you are ready to cut the cord and save some money.
Apps and Streaming That Include Free Live TV Shows and On-Demand Channels
Pluto TV is at the top of the list as it gives a great baseline to compare against the various TV apps. The Apple app store describes this as the “leading streaming TV and free movie service.”
Pluto TV is one of the best free streaming services that offer 100+ live TV channels and over 1000 on-demand movies and TV shows; not all apps provide both. For example, Pluto’s content consists of well-known movies and shows, such as Pulp Fiction, Legally Blonde, Cloverfield, CSI, and Star Trek.
Pluto TV app is available on Apple and Android devices. You can also find it on Amazon Fire TV and Kindle, desktop web browsers, Google TV, Apple TV, Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Sony, and Visio), game consoles like Xbox Series X|S and One, and streaming devices like Firesticks, Chromecast, and Roku.
It is 100% free and legal. You don’t even need to sign up, share personal details or provide bank details. Pluto TV is available outside the US and Canada, so visiting Europe, the UK, and Australia is great. Pluto TV also offers 45 channels in Spanish.
Using Pluto is very simple; select either Live TV or On Demand from the top of the screen. You can then decide what you want to watch from the categories on the left. The only downside is that you can’t pause the show. Of course, there are ads, but it’s no worse than you would have on cable TV.
Next is Peacock, again offering free streaming services with over 13,000 hours of live TV channels and on-demand movies and TV shows. You will find favorites like Battlestar Galactica, 30 Rock, The Office, and Downton Abbey, as well as films such as Bruno and A Million Ways to Die in the West.
Peacock also features exclusives such as Saved by the Bell (2020) and Rutherford Falls. They don’t compete with the exclusives you get on Netflix, but it’s pretty good for a free TV app. Again Peacock is free, with no need for a credit card; however, you need to register and provide a valid e-mail address.
Streaming is available in the US, so your device will physically need to be in the US for this to work, but it’s also growing internationally in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Italy. However, it’s an add-on app to existing paid cable or satellite TV services, so this won’t help you if you travel and plan to watch abroad. The list of devices for Peacock is similar to Pluto, but with the addition of Comcast Xfinity X1, Xfinity Flex, and this time Playstation 4.
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Xumo could be your destination for the best free streaming service that offers a variety of live and on-demand content. The service has a library of over 180 channels, including news, sports, comedy, and lifestyle channels. There is no sign-up requirement, and this service includes top channels like Fox Sports, NBC News, and TMZ.
The device list is similar again, but a more extensive Smart TV list brings in Hisense, Magnavox, Panasonic, Philips, Sanyo, Sharp, and the earlier ones. Unfortunately, this service, which started in the US but went international through LG Smart TVs running webOS4.5, features no game consoles.
The Roku Channel
Roku has been one of the pioneers of streaming for TV and is hugely popular. After the initial purchase of a streaming device, you get access to several streaming services through The Roku Channel. However, the progressive thinkers at Roku have now developed The Roku Channel as a TV app for mobile devices, so you no longer need to purchase a streaming device.
This app lets you watch 115 free live channels along with older on-demand shows and movies. It is only available on Android and iOS phones and tablets. It also allows you to watch premium content if you have signed up for the premium streaming service. However, this has to be done through a web browser and not from your mobile device.
Don’t confuse the old Roku app with the new Roku Channel app; the older Roku app allows you to use your phone as a controller, search tool, use voice commands, and very cleverly will enable you to listen to what’s on the TV through your headphones. The new app is purely for streaming.
Sling Free TV
Sling TV is well-known as a paid streaming provider, often the choice of many ex-pats living outside the US when combined with VPN. Sling Free was launched to help keep pace in the digital streaming world and compete with Pluto, Xumo, and Peacock, and is only available inside the US.
It’s free, with no credit card or registration required. No strings attached. It enables you to watch live TV and on-demand movies and shows across 80+ channels. However, like all Free TVs, the advertisements cannot be skipped. It’s available on all the major web browsers, or you can download the app on your streaming device – again, the usual suspects of smart TVs, Fire TV, Android, Apple, Roku, and Xbox.
Sling Free works in a very familiar way, either the grid we are all used to, showing Live channels, or you can select ‘Explore Free Shows’ to see a long list of shows to watch. As you would expect, there are many opportunities presented to you to get you to upgrade – such as for sport and the latest movies in the rentals section.
Plex TV is one of the best free streaming apps giving you access to thousands of movies and over 80+ channels of live TV shows. The basic functionality of Plex is entirely free, which includes playback of any of your media (it connects all your media in one place), movies, shows, Live TV (from Plex), podcasts, and web shows.
Watching Plex mobile app will require being unlocked (through an in-app purchase or a Plex Pass subscription), and premium features are restricted to those with an active Plex Pass subscription. Without this, you are limited to 1 minute of viewing on mobiles. All non-mobile TV apps are free: Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Plex HTPC, Roku, Smart TVs, Windows & macOS computers, and game consoles (PlayStation and Xbox).
They partner with Crackle, Warner Brothers, MGM, and Lionsgate to bring you great free movies and TV shows without the need for a subscription. With so much free content, you get to choose from Oscar award-winning movies, anime (the Japanese animated shows), documentaries, family shows, everything.
Plex also offers a little more functionality than other free TV apps, allowing you to skip 30 seconds, variable speed playback, multi-device payback so you can switch devices and pick up where you left off. The app also includes live news from major outlets like CBS, Financial Times, and 80% of the US news providers.
Apps and Streaming That Include Only On-Demand Channels
IMDb TV claimed to be “the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content.” As Amazon owns it, it’s well integrated into the Amazon family, so it comes as standard with Amazon Fire TV, and Firesticks and can be accessed through Amazon Prime if you subscribe. IMDb TV has an impressive library of on-demand content but does not include live shows here.
The home screen is simple to use, with banners cycling through trailers and news about content on the platform, followed by suggestions like ‘featured today’ and ‘fan favorites.’ It also has a handy section showing the top movies to watch at the cinema, with quick links to get you the showtimes at your local cinema and trailers of ‘Coming Soon’ movies.
You need to register to watch, but you can sign in using your Amazon account, Apple, Google, etc. Even though it’s part of Amazon, it’s still an ad-supported video streaming service available in the US. You can access it from other countries, but it becomes a place to see what is streaming and direct you to other providers like Hulu, Peacock, and Amazon Prime.
Availability is through the long list of streaming devices already mentioned in this post. Smart TVs are limited to Samsung and LG.
Vudu has been around for over ten years but is not well known or used. To date, it hasn’t got off the ground, possibly due to the Free resolution limited to 1080p (Rentals are 4K). Its library is decent, with over 10,000 free movies and TV episodes, but the content is pretty old. There is no exclusive content here.
A plus is there are no paid subscription plans, so don’t expect the ads to bombard you with sign-up deals. However, they offer rentals, pricing as you would expect between $3 to $6 for older titles and up to $20 for newer releases. Vudu is available on the usual devices, but only in the US. A notable feature is kids mode, to only show age-appropriate content.
Tubi is a free US-only on-demand free movie streaming service with over 20,000 titles. The Fox corporation owns it, so you know it’s well backed. You don’t need to sign up for your free streaming, but you can get a few more options like parental control, viewing history, and setting up a list of things you want to watch.
Navigation is pretty simple and similar to the other apps, showing you the recently added spotlight channel followed by film genres like Comedy and Action. Like all free TV apps, it comes with ads and does not have the latest releases, but the content is impressive as they partner with big movie producers like MGM and Paramount.
These partnerships mean you get free access to some pretty cool movies that rate highly on Rotten Tomatoes, like Kill Bill (RT 85%, Audience 81%), The Goonies (RT 76%, Audience 91%), and Pretty Woman (RT 65%, Audience 68%). Come on; you know Pretty Woman should score higher.
You will be able to watch your free movies and TV shows on a wide selection of devices. So here goes, Amazon Fire TV, stick, Kindle and Fire tablet, Amazon Echo Show, Android mobile devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, Comcast Xfinity X1, Cox Contour, Google Nest Hub, Hisense Smart TV, iOS devices, Nvidia shield, Playstation 4 and 5, Roku platforms, Samsung smart TVs, Sony Smart TVs and Blu-ray disc devices, Tivo, Xbox One, Series S and X|S, web browsers, Vizio Smart TV, and finally LG Smart TV. That is what you call comprehensive coverage.
Sony Crackle is a free streaming app owned by Sony. It offers a library of movies and TV shows to watch online. The content is all on-demand and free, and you don’t need a subscription. Crackle also contains ads, but if you set up a free account, you will see fewer ads and get the added function to pick up where you left off on different devices.
Some of the content is exclusive to Crackle; these are mainly from Sony Pictures and its companies, Columbia, Tristar, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Classics. Some notable originals are On the Ropes, Going for Broke, Hidden Heroes, The Oath, and Snatch.
You can load up the ‘Watch Later’ section and check out the ‘Spotlight Channel’ to see recommendations from Crackle. Unfortunately, there is no download feature for offline viewing. It’s available in 21 countries, and luckily the US is one of them, which has led to over 10 million devices installing the Android app. Sony Crackle is available on all the usual devices but goes the extra mile to be available on Blackberry and Windows phones.
Frequently asked questions
Is it really free?
All the apps I have included are free, with many of them offering a paid service to remove the ads. You can always try a few before deciding on the best free streaming service for you.
Do I need all 10?
If you use all 10, it can get overwhelming to check what’s on each. Apps like Yidio may help. Yidio continuously monitors hundreds of free streaming services to browse them all at once and choose what you want to watch.
Are they legal?
How can I watch free tv?
I have mentioned this throughout the article, but there are many ways to watch this selection of the best free streaming services. Of course, there are slight variations, but in general, pretty much everyone will have access to at least one device to watch the best free tv shows and movies.
What can I do about the ads?
Apart from paying for the premium service, there is not much you can do. All the services are ad-supported. The ads are what fund these best free streaming services. However, Pluto does have a good reputation for showing fewer ads than some of the other platforms.
Which is the best?
Pluto works instantly to have good tv shows, including live tv and on-demand, with the bonus of fewer ads. Let us know your favorite in the comments!
Final Thoughts on 10 Best Free TV Apps for Live or On-Demand
Switching from your regular cable subscription to the Free TV apps is one of the best household money-saving tips to implement, especially in the year of the squeeze. You can even make extra cash with these best money-making apps to get paid to use your phone.
Many different free TV streaming apps are available, but the ten listed here are some of the best. They offer a variety of content, from movies to TV shows, and can be watched on a wide range of devices.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Chloe is the creator behind It’s Not Your 9 to 5, a UK based personal finance blog that teaches moms how to take control of their finances by saving money and diversifying income outside of their 9 to 5s. A mama, wife and side hustler herself, Chloe is passionate about helping women gain financial confidence and achieve their dreams. Her writing style is witty and relatable, so her readers feel like they are having a conversation with a friend.