These 11 Free TV Apps Let You Watch Your Favorite Shows — Without the Bill
As cable subscription prices rise higher and higher and customer satisfaction ratings dive lower and lower, cutting the cable has never been more popular.
Sure, there are the usual big names in streaming services available for a monthly fee, but it’s possible to kick subscription fees entirely.
Luckily, there are more options than ever for replacing your traditional cable setup. Many free streaming services have stepped up to offer access to content overlooked by subscription-based services.
And you aren’t confined to squinting at your phone’s screen or gathering the family around the old iPad to watch your favorite TV series and movies — you can download apps to your Smart TV or even gaming consoles like XBox One and PS4.
Of course, there are some rather shady options out there that stream pirated content. But there are plenty of free, legal streaming apps that provide no-strings-attached cable cutting solutions.
11 Free TV Apps That Will Help You Cut Cable
Check out these free TV apps that will help you cut the cord but still let you enjoy your favorite TV shows, movies, news programs, sporting events and more.
One of the go-to names not just in free streaming but in streaming video in general is Crackle. The cost-free service has a variety of content, ranging from classic TV shows like “Bewitched” and “Barney Miller,” as well as the newer “Snatch” series. It also has hundreds of films from major studios.
For a free streaming service, Crackle’s library is truly impressive. Crackle even has a handful of original series to its name. Best of all, Crackle works on nearly all mobile devices, streaming boxes and smart TVs.
2. Tubi TV
A division of FOX Entertainment, Tubi TV has deals with major studios like Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Lionsgate. It also features lots of foreign and independent productions.
Tubi TV’s library is updated regularly, and the service claims to add new content every week. The Tubi TV app works on more than 25 devices, including Android and iOS, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox, Samsung Smart TVs and Amazon Fire TV.
To be honest, when I first heard of Tubi TV, I was skeptical because I always viewed apps like it as having the movies no one wanted to see.
However, I was pleasantly surprised — the library is solid and has started offering popular Fox TV series like “The Masked Singer” and “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back.”
Since the service is ad-supported, you can expect to watch a couple minutes of ads every 10 minutes or so. The experience is pretty similar to watching normal television.
3. Pluto TV
Offering TV channels of linear content much like a cable package, Pluto TV stands out in the free streaming crowd.
There are dozens of classic TV, movie and sports channels — and even some highly curated streams of niche content.
If you’re looking for breaking news, you can choose from an assortment of major network’s news channels that are live streaming.
The kids (or the kids at heart) can check out Nickelodeon classics like “The Fairly Odd Parents” and “Dora the Explorer.”
Got a library card? You have access to even more entertainment options (besides the obvious, books). Check out these library apps for free access to movies, TV shows and more.
Or if you just want to veg out, switch over to their Binge menu for a seemingly endless stream of a number of TV series, like “The Hills” and “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
Pluto TV boasts a large list of supported devices including iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TVand Chromecast devices and Android TV.
Like Tubi TV, Pluto TV has advertisements. It’s pretty similar to the ad load of normal TV.
Streaming video isn’t always just about entertainment. For the more serious-minded cord-cutters out there, the NewsON app provides hundreds of local and national news streams.
Both live TV and on-demand news broadcasts can be streamed from over 275 local news affiliates in 160 markets. The broadcasts are available for up to 48 hours after they air, so even if you don’t catch the breaking news as it happens, you can catch up later.
Users can then select which news segments they want to watch from categories like sports, weather or entertainment. NewsON is compatible with iOS and Android phones and tablets, as well as Roku.
I find NewsOn particularly useful when I don’t want to deal with hooking up an antenna. As far as local programming is concerned, the news is really all I need.
5. Funny Or Die
Without a doubt, the go-to streaming app for comedy programming is Funny or Die. Founded in 2007 by contemporary comedy giants Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, it has since grown to be a full-blown production house featuring original content from some of the biggest names in show business.
In 2018, the Funny Or Die began publishing on Vox Media’s Chorus and now uses the YouTube Player.
Content on the app must be streamed and cannot be downloaded.
As for my personal experience, I’ve honestly spent quite a bit of time laughing my butt off at the videos. Funny or Die is easy to use and great for finding new hilarious content.
6. PBS Kids
Kids need free streaming content, too. Luckily, PBS has a PBS Kids Video app that provides hundreds of hours of educational and enriching content just for the youngest members of any family. The app has a colorful, child-friendly interface, which makes it easy for kids to take control themselves.
You can even tap the “Live TV” button to watch what’s currently airing on your local PBS station.
Almost all of the networks and cable TV channels have their own free apps for you to download — although many charge you to actually watch current content.
Videos from many of PBS’s most popular series are available for streaming including “Curious George,” “Wild Kratts” and “Sesame Street.” The PBS Kids app is supported for Android, Windows and iOS phones and tablets.
Whether you want it now or later, Xumo offers live TV and on-demand options for your TV viewing pleasure.
Like Pluto, you can choose from an assortment of major network’s news channels that are live streaming.
Many of the free TV apps offer “premium” channels — if you see that word, expect to pay for those services.
But it also includes more than 160 free channels, including themed ones in case you’re in the mood for action movies or comedies — you can watch the Funny Or Die channel here, too.
Xumo is available on most smart TVs and Roku and for download on iOS and Android devices.
Anime and manga fans are likely already familiar with Crunchyroll. The sushi-inspired name stems from the fact that Crunchyroll specializes in mostly Japanese content, but it also features films and series from all over the world. Crunchyroll boasts a library of thousands of anime films and series, many of which are hard to find on other streaming services.
There is a paid premium feature, but the free Crunchyroll service has thousands of hours of popular series like the “Dragon Ball” franchise, “Attack on Titan,” “Naruto” and “One Piece.”
The Crunchyroll app is supported by Apple, Android and Windows mobile devices, as well as by gaming consoles, Chromecast, Apple TV and Roku.
Crunchyroll is a great app for anyone with an interest in anime. Of course, when it comes to anime content, you have to be watchful with your younger children, as a lot of it is geared toward teens (and sometimes even adults).
For anyone with even a passing interest in gaming and esports, Twitch is the go-to free streaming service.
Twitch hosts user-created channels and streams focused on video games and other esports. It features a built-in chat feature, so users can chat with other streamers in real time.
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While there are thousands of free streams, Twitch also features premium features for a monthly subscription. Twitch apps are compatible with PCs, iOS and Android devices, game consoles, Chromecast and Fire TV.
While Twitch is popular with children, parents should beware: Twitch streams are somewhat unregulated and can sometimes contain adult language or content.
10. IMDb Freedive
Owned by Amazon, IMDb TV (formerly Freedive) features a host of full episodes of your favorite current and classic TV shows as well as an array of movies.
The catalogue includes some binge-worthy sci-fi hits like “Lost” and “Fringe.”
The free version of IMDbTV is ad-supported, so you’ll have to sit through a few commercial breaks.
It’s is available in the United States on the IMDb app, the IMDb website, the Amazon Prime Video app and Amazon Fire TV devices.
Yes, YouTube. No list of cost-free streaming video services would be complete without it. YouTube apps are compatible with just about every device out there that has a screen, and the service features videos to choose from on nearly any topic imaginable.
Most of those videos are not exactly premium content, but there are still plenty of full-length films, documentary series and curated channels that provide cost-free entertainment for the whole family.
While there are ways to download YouTube content for offline viewing, proceed with caution: Many of these sites and apps are full of malware.
With so many free streaming options out there, it’s easier than ever to cut the cord and save big. Whether you’re looking to keep up with the news, find a good movie for date night or entertain your kids with educational content, a streaming service exists to ensure you can do so without paying a dime. Try them out and see which works best for you.
Chris Brantner is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.