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Best Free Streaming Services
What if we told you there are free streaming services that have excellent on-demand content, live TV channels, limited ads, and a chance to get you out of your monthly cable bill?
And who doesn’t like free? Who doesn’t like watching TV shows and movies?
We have gifted you with details of the five best free streaming services that you can start using today while you need to kill some time or destress.
- : Most frequently updated content
- : Best for live TV
- : Most on-demand content
- : Best for nostalgic content
- : Best for popular content
Top free streaming services
The Roku Channel: Most frequently updated content
The Roku Channel details
What we like
- On-demand content and live channels
- Limited ads
- Don’t need to create an account
Live channels and regularly updated on-demand content
The Roku Channel gives you both live TV channels and great on-demand content that you can watch any time of the day.
Some of the live channels you can watch with the Roku Channel:
- ABC News
- USA Today
- Comedy Central
- Cheddar News
Movies on the Roku Channel include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, all of The Hunger Games, Secondhand Lions, and Escape From Planet Earth. And you can enjoy series such as Alone, Hell's Kitchen, Forensic Files, The Bachelorette, and 60 Days In.
The best part? Limited ads!
When we watched Schitt’s Creek on The Roku Channel, the first episode didn’t have any ads whatsoever. But there were two ads in our second episode.
We couldn’t find a trend, but it’s definitely nice when an episode or two has zero ads for zero interruptions. Other free services will have up to three ads in one 30-minute episode, which can get a little bothersome (to say the least).
You and your family can watch The Roku Channel through the app, on your laptop, Roku TVs, or other TV-connected streaming devices with the Roku app.
No need to give your information
We don’t know about you, but we know we don’t mind when we can use a service without giving them our full name. Oh, and our email address so they can blow up our inbox with “suggestions” or “what’s new.”
But if you do create an account with The Roku Channel, you’ll get the following benefits:
- Access to premium channel subscriptions
- Continue watching movies right where you left off
- Get recommendations based on your interests
So, it might actually be worth giving your information. Because you know you like the simplicity of jumping to the scene where you left off and getting “Recommended for You” suggestions.
The Roku Channel summary
Pluto TV: Best for live TV
Pluto TV details
What we like
- Live TV streaming
- On-demand content
What we don’t like
- Lots of ads
Free live TV cable channels
First of all, similar to The Roku Channel, you don’t even need to sign up or create an account for Pluto TV. You can just start watching TV when you open the website or app.
Pluto TV is the best free service for live TV with more than 250 channels. It’s a cable-like streaming service with the following channels:
- CBS News
- Comedy Central
- History Channel
- NBC News
- Nick Jr.
Also, there are channels dedicated to one particular TV show, such as Tosh.O, Degrassi, and Deal or No Deal.
And perfect for Spanish speakers, there is a Latino section with Peliculas, Telemundo Telenovelas Clásicas, and Nickelodeon Latino.
Tons of on-demand content
The massive amount of content Pluto TV offers includes 70 different movie genres. Anyone will find something to watch when you’re waiting in the long line at the grocery store or when you need to kill some time at home.
Movies include Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, What Lies Beneath, Bull Durham, and all of the original James Bond movies.
The on-demand shows on Pluto TV include The First 48, Hell’s Kitchen, Rosanne, and Leverage.
Watch Pluto TV on the app, on your computer, or with one of these devices:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Android smartphones and tablets
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- iPhone and iPads
- PS3 and PS4
- Roku TV
- Samsung smart TV
- Vizio smart TV
- Hisense smart TV
Ads in on-demand content
While we shouldn’t complain too much about a free service, we must let you know: there are quite a few ads.
Yes, they need to make money somehow.
But just so you don’t get blindsided, expect three 30-second or one-minute ads in your 30-minute TV episode.
Pluto TV summary
- Good: Pluto TV is the best for live TV and also offers on-demand content.
- Bad: You might have to pick through the on-demand content and deal with the ads.
- Full review: If you want more channels, check out our full review of the best live TV streaming services.
Vudu: Most on-demand content
What we like
- Loads of movies and TV shows
- Rent movies
- Ads are minimal
Over 10,000 movies and TV shows for free
Vudu’s free titles are well-known. But keep in mind, they seem to exist in the late '80s to early 2010s.
Download the Vudu app to watch Black Hawk Down, Mr. 3000, King Arthur, Magic Mike XXL, and Road House.
There are also lots of movies and TV series your kids will enjoy, such as Escape from Planet Earth, Norm of the North, Pokemon, and My Little Pony. If you want to find more streaming services for your little ones, check out our top streaming services for kids.
Rent movies for a few dollars
Rent newer movies from $1.99–$5.99 like Trolls, Ford v. Ferrari, Jumanji: The Next Level, Knives Out, and Joker.
They also have a “Theater at Home” section that has all of the brand new movies you can rent for $19.99, including Trolls World Tour, The Call of the Wild, The Way Back, and The Invisible Man (but if you wait a little longer, you can buy the movie on Vudu for the same price).
This feature might sound similar to Amazon Prime Video, but you don’t have to worry about paying for a monthly subscription with Vudu.
Ads aren’t placed in the middle of your movie
Ads aren’t inconveniently in the middle of a sad scene or the middle of an actor’s sentence.
When you watch a movie, a 30-second to one-minute ad will pop up at the beginning, and that’s it. (Thank you, Vudu.)
- Good: Vudu has lots of on-demand content, and you can rent or buy videos anytime you want.
- Bad: Yes, there are ads, but luckily they’re placed at the beginning of your show to avoid a frustrating interruption.
- Full review: If you want even more and newer on-demand content, check out our full review of Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
Tubi TV: Best for nostalgic content
Tubi TV details
What we like
- Movies dating back to the late '80s to early 2000s
- Lots of genres
Solid content of its time
Tubi TV has all of the nostalgic content you need from Alf and The Dick Van Dyke Show to The Bachelor and Hell’s Kitchen.
You’ll also have movie choices such as Barber Shop 2, Shrek Forever After, Boondock Saints, and Donnie Darko.
And when we watched Into the Blue, there were no ads throughout the entire movie. Now that’s a super big bonus.
Visit the past by streaming Tubi TV on your Android, iOS, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Xfinity X1, Xbox, Samsung Smart TVs, Sony Smart TVs, PlayStation and online.
So many movie types to choose from
The big list of genres and categories on Tubi TV goes on and on. Everyone (I mean everyone) will find a category they like.
There are categories such as Crime TV, Family Movies, Preschool, Sports Movies & Shows, Good Eats, and Movie Night.
This free streaming service is worth checking out, but you’ll have to sign up for an account before you can view all of its nostalgic content.
Tubi TV summary
- Good: Tubi TV gives you lots of free content of different genres that will remind you of the old days.
- Bad: Arguably, most of the content is not for the younger generations.
- Full review: Speaking of nostalgia (if you want more), check out our review of Disney+, a streaming service that has all of the movies you watched when you were a kid.
IMDb TV: Best for popular content
IMDb TV details
What we like
- Only popular content, no fillers
- Awesome app
Solid content, free of fluff
Although IMDb TV may not have as much on-demand content as other free streaming services, IMDb is free of filler content.
IMDb doesn’t feel the need to say “over 500,000 hours of content.” They just want to deliver content everyone will want to watch including the following series:
- Schitt’s Creek
- White Collar
- The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer
- Chicago Fire
- Friday Night Lights
- Desperate Housewives
- Lie to Me
- Almost Human
IMDb also has great movies, including the following:
- Eat Pray Love
- Failure to Launch
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- The Big Short
- Monsters vs. Aliens
- The Neverending Story
IMDb app is perfect for movie buffs
Before IMDb TV came to fruition, the IMDb was an app that gave you information about movies, author bios and filmography, and a place to rate movies.
Now, you can also watch movies and TV shows, as well as create a watchlist (some free streaming services don’t have a watchlist option).
It’s also worth mentioning here that IMDb TV has a lot of ads.
Similar to Pluto TV, when we watched Schitt’s Creek, there were three ads (ugh!). But again, we can’t complain too much about a free streaming service.
IMDb TV summary
- Good: IMDb TV has great content with little to sift through.
- Bad: Prepare for quite a few ads, and just remember it’s free.
- Full review: If you love the IMDb app, you’re likely to be a big movie fan. Check out our review on Amazon Prime Video, a streaming service where you can rent and buy movies.
Recap: Which is the best free streaming service?
These free streaming services are an excellent alternative to traditional streaming or cable TV, but you won’t get a lot of newer content.
We sorted through more than a dozen free streaming services to highlight some of the best. We considered content, channels, and ads to determine which streaming service deserves your attention. Overall, we can say this about each:
- The Roku Channel: The Roku Channel will give you frequently updated on-demand content, live channels, and limited ads.
- Pluto TV: If you’re looking for the most live TV channels for free, Pluto TV is the service for you. Enjoy channels for news, kids, entertainment, reality, and sports.
- Vudu: With Vudu, you’ll get access to loads of movies and TV shows. It’s also a service where you can rent and buy new movies without a monthly subscription.
- Tubi TV: If you’re looking for a movie from the early '80s to early 2000s, Tubi TV at your service. Also, enjoy all of the filtered categories to find what you’re really in the mood for.
- IMDb TV: IMDb TV may not have a lot of content, but it has content you’ll most likely want to watch. The movie app is also a great spot to find more information about a new release or an actor’s background.
What do you think?
Which streaming service do you think is the best? Tell us what you think in the comments.