The era of cable TV is over.
Or at least it would be if there were good alternatives. What if we told you there were, and dozens of them you could try right now without having to pay a penny? In most cases, free TV streaming services or apps are available for both smart TVs and mobile devices, while some can also be accessed via gaming consoles.
Most of these services offer free media content in the form of TV shows and movies in exchange for advertisements that pop up every 10 minutes or so. In other words, it’s the same situation as with regular cable, but you don’t have to both sit through commercials and pay for media at the same time.
This is great news for anyone who loves streaming shows and movies straight to their TVs or tablets. But it’s tough to know which free TV apps you can use to cut your cable are worth your time, and which are safe to download.
Best Free TV Apps
Tubi TV is a great place to start. Since it’s a division of FOX Entertainment, the streaming service benefits from a variety of exclusive deals with movie studios like Paramount, Lionsgate, and more. At the same time, the app’s extensive library is updated frequently with both foreign and independent productions.
The TV show selection isn’t at all limited, especially if your favorites are on main channels like Fox. For instance, you’ll easily be able to catch up with the latest Gordon Ramsey show, or watch other popular TV series like “The Masked Singer”.
Even better, you can use the Tubi TV app on over 25 different devices, including smartphones and various types of smart TVs. The downside is that, since it’s free, you’ll have to watch a few minutes of advertisements for every 10 minutes of content streamed. But in this way, it’s pretty close to regular TV without the cable costs!
Crackle is another excellent choice, as it offers one of the biggest free video streaming libraries in the world. The content includes both classic shows and newer productions plus hundreds of films, ranging from modern masterpieces to mainstream action flicks to more independent or niche genre films.
The library is the truly impressive part of the whole service. But even more interestingly, Crackle has a few original series that you can’t find anywhere else. Try this free streaming service out on any mobile device, streaming box, or smart TV to see what you might have been missing if you stuck only with Netflix.
NewsON’s focus is in the name. In fact, it provides access to hundreds of national and local news streams, so it’s a perfect choice if you want to cut your cable but don’t want to feel out of the loop. For those who love to hear politics or news while they make dinner or after they get home from work, NewsON is the perfect free TV app you should enjoy.
Overall, NewsON offers over 275 local news affiliate channels and they keep their broadcasts available for watching for up to 48 hours after they air. This way, you don’t have to be sitting down and ready to watch when the clock 6 o’clock news rolls around. You can easily watch it a little later or even a day after.
It’s a particularly good choice if you only care about getting free access to local programming and don’t care so much about streaming top-tier new entertainment productions.
This free streaming app is another fantastic choice, offering dozens of sports, movies, and classic TV channels. News stations also live stream pretty frequently these days, so installing Pluto TV will let you get your fill of either entertainment or news whenever you like.
Kids channels are included as well, plus a phenomenal number of different TV series, both modern and classic. It’s one of the few streaming services with access to old shows like “Mystery Science Theater 3000”, for example. Kids’ shows run the gamut of classics like “Dora the Explorer” and similar programs.
It does force you to sit through some advertisements, but it’s no higher than what you would experience with normal TV.
Want only wholesome programming in your household? PBS Kids has your back. This free streaming app offers hundreds of hours of educational content and kids-friendly TV at your fingertips. Even better, the app is easily controlled by kids as well as parents, so you can let your kids sit in front of the TV and entertain themselves while you cook dinner if you like.
Best of all, you never have to worry about your kids accidentally viewing something age-appropriate since PBS Kids only has family-friendly content. While newer programming is widespread, you can also find a lot of classic shows like “Sesame Street” that you might remember from your own childhood. The app is available on mobile devices, as well, for on-the-go entertainment.
Funny or Die
This comedy programming company was created in 2007 by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, and it’s since become one of the biggest comedy production houses in the world. A mobile app now exists to bring its content to everyone, everywhere.
Original content and partnered comedy specials are the norm here, so it’s a must-have if you usually watch TV to catch some of your favorite comedians or funny shows. It’s also not the worst in terms of advertisements, even though all the content has to be streamed and you can’t download it for later viewing.
Crunchyroll is one of the most popular free TV apps for anime fans, as it specializes in Japanese content and provides easy access to many top-tier manga and anime-inspired productions. Thousands of anime series and films can be found here, and many of these will be hard to locate from another streaming service or free TV app.
You can opt for the paid and premium version for access to even more movies and shows, but most popular series and movies are available for free. You can enjoy Crunchyroll on mobile devices or smart TVs, or even gaming consoles!
Is it good for kids? Sometimes. The anime content is mostly geared toward teenagers, though be careful that there are some mature productions that aren’t kid-appropriate scattered throughout the catalog.
Check out Xumo for a great selection of on-demand and live TV options from a variety of platforms and mobile devices. Over 160 free channels are offered, including a selection of premium channels you can pay a few dollars for if you want select content streaming and don’t want to have to buy a whole package full of junk channels you’ll never flip to.
The movie catalog is pretty expansive, too. Xumo is available on the majority of smart TVs, but it’s also a good choice for mobile devices.
IMBd TV is owned by Amazon and has a great collection of TV shows and movies, most of which are drawn from Amazon’s own collection. This way, you don’t have to pay the relatively high Amazon Prime subscription price to get access to some of the videos in their catalog.
However, free service is supported by ads, so commercial breaks are a necessity. You’re also only able to enjoy this TV app in the US, and from a relatively narrow range of devices (they have to be compatible with Amazon Prime, basically).
Still, it’s a good choice if you like many of the classic hits included in IMDb TV’s catalog, including sci-fi series like “Fringe” and “Lost”.
While Twitch may primarily be known for game streaming, it’s also a great free streaming service for general entertainment, especially since more and more streamers are expanding their horizons. For now, it’s the go-to solution for anyone who has even a tangential interest in esports and gaming, and it allows viewers to chat with streamers in real-time no matter the platform you use.
You can enjoy most of what Twitch has to offer for free, or you can join the premium service for a monthly subscription. Keep in mind that some Twitch streams are certainly not kid-appropriate, so be sure to vet any new streamer before letting your kid watch them freely.
YouTube isn’t just a go-to entertainment solution when you are surfing the Internet. It’s also one of the best free TV apps you can benefit from, especially since all smart TVs now come with Internet access and most people have at least one gaming console that can also connect to the Internet.
YouTube offers a smorgasbord of content, ranging from comedy videos to music videos to, well, anything you can imagine! Best of all, you can connect your personal YouTube profile to the device you use to stream YouTube to your TV. It’s a lot like bringing your internet straight to your TV screen, except you can enjoy all the content from the comfort of your couch.
However, ads are common on most videos worth your while, and you should never trust any site that allows you to download you to content for offline viewing, as those sites are usually shortcuts to malware and other viruses.
Hotstar is particularly popular in India and other places in Asia. But don’t let that stop you from trying it out in the United States. It offers a particularly impressive selection of movies and TV shows, plus access to live sports streams. This could be a good choice if you come from that part of the world and want to keep up with your favorite sports seasons without having to pay for pricey cable packages.
Stream quality is usually pretty good, although advertisements are plentiful since the service is entirely free. It also usually works with most smart TVs and other mobile devices, although the Jio TV app doesn’t work very well with Hotstar for whatever reason.
Check it out if you want a good collection of foreign and Western content mixed into one TV app.
Kodi is a much more limited free TV app, as it’s a media player that only works with Android mobile devices. However, it comes with one of the most intuitive user interfaces on the market and allows you to play local video and audio, plus run various plug-ins. That means downloading content straight to Kodi on your Android mobile device is usually quick and easy.
You can then use those plug-ins to watch many of your favorite channels without having to pay a penny. For instance, USTVNow allows you to watch many staple cable TV channels for free.
You’ll have to do a good bit of research about what plug-ins are worth your time and which ones may have viruses lurking in their code. But once you get a good collection of plug-ins integrated with Kodi, we bet it’ll be more than worth your while.
As the name suggests, Popcornflix is a streaming app that focuses on movie content instead of TV shows. As a result, it offers a whopping 700 movies and adds new films to its catalog every month. The best news is that many of these films are those you can’t find on traditional streaming services like Netflix.
Genre and international films are plentiful here, so it’s potentially a great service for movie buffs or cinephiles. However, there is a downside in that the streaming quality can drop dramatically from time to time, so your mileage may vary about the actual quality of these films.
It’s likely that Popcornflix works better for some as opposed to others because of geographical issues. Our advice? Try it out and see whether your streaming quality is high to determine if you should stick with the app or move on.
Last but not least, Roku is a free TV app that comes with Roku devices. Many people probably have Roku on their smart TVs or mobile devices and have no idea that there’s an expansive catalog of TV shows and movies just waiting for them to browse through. In most cases, Roku offers hundreds of movies and lots of classic and popular TV shows, offering a good range of content, from serious drama to comedy to kids’ entertainment.
The downside, of course, is that Roku is only available to those with Roku devices. But if your TV comes with Roku pre-installed (something that’s more and more common these days) or if you purchased a Roku some time back, check it out. You might have the solution to your cable-cutting needs right in front of you!
All in all, there are lots of alternatives to traditional cable these days, especially if you have a smart TV or mobile device you’re willing to do a little exploring with. Cable is exorbitantly pricey and doesn’t even have the best selection of content these days. Why pay for cable and sit through commercials when you can get free, quality content in exchange for sitting through a few ads?
In our opinion, your best bet is to sign up for a few of the above apps, combining their content collections so you always have a much more diverse series of shows and movies at your fingertips. Figure out which apps work best for your area or devices, then enjoy your free streaming!