Guide to Streaming Video Services

A growing number of ad-supported services let you watch content free of charge. The list below includes the major ones; we also maintain a more comprehensive list of free video streaming services.

Amazon Freevee
Previously called IMDb TV, Freevee is an offshoot of Amazon Prime Video. It offers live channels, on-demand classic TV shows and movies, and some original content. Fairly recent shows such as “Schitt’s Creek” and “The Librarians” appear alongside oldies (“Bewitched,” “Columbo”).

Original shows include “Judy Justice,” starring Judge Judy Sheindlin; “Modern Love,” and “Bosch: Legacy,” a spinoff of the popular Amazon Prime series. However, “Judy Justice” is jumping from streaming to broadcast TV later this fall.

Sign up for Amazon Freevee.

Amazon Fire TV Channels
Amazon Fire TV Channels is a special option included exclusively on Fire TV devices. This service aggregates free, ad-supported content from a range of popular sources, including MLB, Fox News, ABC News, CBS News, CBS Sports, NHL, Fox Sports, NASCAR, and more.

Amazon Fire TV Channels is adding extra sports coverage from beIN SPORTS by launching beIN Sports Xtra and video-on-demand content.

Earlier, Amazon bumped up its offering with content from Variety, Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, and TV Line from Penske Media Corporation; GameSpot, Honest Trailers, and TV Guide from Fandom; Looper, Slash Film, and Nicki Swift from Static Media; along with Funny or Die and Outside. The service offers content from more than 400 different providers.

To find this content, ask Alexa to “Play Fire TV Channels” to open the app and browse free content. Or, navigate to Fire TV’s Your Apps & Channels screen and click the Fire TV Channels app. 

Learn more about Amazon Fire TV.

Crackle, which used to be Sony’s ad-supported streaming service, hosts a library of mainstream titles that include popular older TV shows such as “Father Knows Best” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” as well as some popular newer series, including “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Line of Duty.” Movies include “Blitz,” starring Jason Statham,” and “Bordertown,” starring Jennifer Lopez.

Crackle is now owned by Chicken Soup for the Soul and is part of a bigger brand called Crackle Plus, which operates several ad-supported and subscription networks, including EspañolFlix, FrightPix, and Popcornflix, among others. The company also recently acquired Redbox (see below).

Crackle’s original content includes “Outbreak,” a series about containing a dangerous virus; “Les Norton,” a 10-episode series starring Rebel Wilson; “The Uncommon History of Very Common Things,” an entertaining and often irreverent history of everyday objects; and season two of “In The Vault,” a suspense series set at a fictional college. Crackle also has a limited number of original movies.

Crackle’s parent company, ChickenSoup for the Soul, had been facing a bankruptcy filing, but recently received $175 million in additional working capital from two of its primary lenders.

Sign up for Crackle.

Hoopla and Kanopy
If you have a library card, Hoopla and Kanopy might be your ticket to free movies, music, audiobooks, and comics. Getting started is pretty simple. Just go to the site, find your local library, and create an account with your library card. You check out TV shows and movies as though they were books, using your library card.

The main difference between the two services is that Hoopla tends to focus more on popular entertainment than Kanopy does, and it includes other types of media beyond videos, such as audiobooks, comics, e-books, and music.

With either service, once you’ve signed up you can browse by title or genre, or get recommendations based on what you’ve previously borrowed and what’s popular. With Hoopla, you have 72 hours to watch a movie. (Your library sets the limit on how many movies you can borrow each month. In my case, it recently jumped from four to eight.) Your movie will start streaming once you’ve made a selection.

Sign up for Hoopla and Kanopy.

Bad news for new subscribers: Peacock is no longer offering its free tier, instead shifting its emphasis to its two paid Premium services. But anyone currently using the free tier can continue to use it, and paid subscribers who cancel their subscription will automatically be downgraded to the free plan with a limited amount of content.

However, NBCUniversal and Instacart announced that Instacart+ members in the U.S. will now get Peacock Premium free.

Sign up for Peacock.

Pluto TV
Pluto TV, owned by Paramount, has about 250 curated channels, drawing content from its Paramount properties (BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Paramount Pictures), plus networks such as Bloomberg, Cheddar News, CNN, NBC News, and Fox Sports. Pluto TV also has a decent library of on-demand content, including now-classic movies—”Titanic,” “Saving Private Ryan”—and newer fare such as “Lady Bird.” TV shows run the gamut from “The Andy Griffith Show” and the original “Gunsmoke” to “The Twilight Zone” and “Criminal Minds.”

In addition to genre-based channels, Pluto TV has added channels powered by other providers, including CBS (“NCIS,” “FBI”), AMC Networks (“The Making of the Mob,” “NOS4A2: Ghost”), and Showtime (“Dexter,” “Billions”). It recently added 14 channels from NBCUniversal, including Bravo Vault and NBC Sports, as well as Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk channel. It also now has 25 channels dedicated to movies.

There’s now a Pluto TV Latino service, with over 45 curated Spanish- and Portuguese-language channels covering categories, including comedy, movies, music, reality TV, sports, telenovelas, and true crime.

Pluto will get the full previous season of select Paramount series before the newest seasons arrive on the premium Paramount+ service.

As part of a “Programmed By Humans” branding message, Pluto is touting its dedicated team of curators to help program for the platform.

Sign up for Pluto TV.

Best known for its rental kiosks at grocery stores and shopping centers, plus a newer video-on-demand streaming rental and purchase service, Redbox now has a free ad-based live service as well, which gets some of its content from Xumo Play.

Thanks to the Xumo Play partnership, Redbox’s free service includes Magnolia Pictures’ CineLife ad-supported channel, which features top-rated independent films and award-winning documentaries from the Magnolia Pictures catalog.

Redbox is owned by Chicken Soup for the Soul, which also owns Crackle (see above). The company recently received additional financing to avoid a bankruptcy filing.

Sign up for Redbox.

The Roku Channel
Thanks to a rapidly expanding roster of programming, you can watch free shows and movies via the company’s ad-supported The Roku Channel, which is now available outside of just Roku streaming players and TVs.

The Roku Channel has a lot of licensed TV shows and movies, plus some live channels from ABC, AMC, Fox, NBC, Hallmark, and others. It now has more than 400 live channels, and tens of thousands of free on-demand movies and TV shows. One big focus going forward will be Roku Originals, with new shows rolling out regularly. Current examples include “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” “Reptile Royalty,” and “UFO Cowboys.“

Recently, Roku (and Tubi) licensed hundreds of movies and TV shows, including “Raised by Wolves” and “Cake Boss,” from Warner Bros. Discovery. Other new channels include “Barney” and “Pickleball TV.”

In addition, Roku has a multiyear deal with Lionsgate that gives it rights to stream Lionsgate’s theatrically released films. Exclusive to Roku, it’s the first time Lionsgate titles are available free anywhere. Roku is also teaming up with a private equity company to acquire up to a 20 percent stake in the premium channel Starz, which was acquired by Lionsgate in 2016.

Roku also lets you access AMC Networks’ paid streaming services— AMC+, Shudder, and Acorn TV—through the Roku Channel’s Premium Subscriptions.

Roku has started moving aggressively into sports. Last season, it teamed up with the NFL to create the NFL Zone within its Sports section on the main Roku app, a centralized location to find live and upcoming games. This season Roku and the NFL teamed up for a new 24/7 NFL Draft Vault channel, where you can watch the best moments of previous drafts. Roku also has a free NBA channel called NBA Zone.

It also secured a multiyear deal for MLB’s “Sunday Leadoff games,” which last year was on Peacock. These earlier games will be free—last year you had to have a paid Peacock subscription—and run through September 15.

Sign up for the Roku Channel.

Sling Freestream
Sling Freestream is a new ad-supported service from Sling TV. The service has been adding more content and now claims to have more than 500 free channels and over 44,000 on-demand titles, with genres ranging from news, sports, game shows, and crime dramas to sitcoms, home improvement, cooking, and more. Popular channels and programming include ABC News Live, CBS News, ESPN on Demand, FilmRise, “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Heartland,” “Forensic Files,” “The Walking Dead” universe, and “VH1 I Love Reality.”

Through Freestream, you’ll be able to subscribe to more than 50 stand-alone streaming services, including AMC+, Discovery+, and Showtime.

This spring, Sling TV extended its “Watch & Win” rewards program, which lets you win prize money the more you watch television, to Sling Freestream users. You have to have a Freestream account to be eligible.

One interesting development: Freestream is now the first free service to offer a free cloud DVR.

Sign up for Sling Freestream.

This ad-supported service, owned by Fox, has more than 50,000 titles, including selections from the libraries of Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Bros., plus networks, including A&E, Lifetime, and Starz. It also offers access to many Fox shows, such as “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Lego Masters,” after they broadcast.

Tubi is ramping up its original content with 100 new film and TV titles slated to appear over the course of this year. Newer originals include “Prisoner of Love” and “Corrective Measures,” the latter starring Bruce Willis. These join other Tubi Originals, such as “10 Truths About Love,” “War of the Worlds: Annihilation,” and “Mysteries From the Grave: Titanic.”

Tubi’s options range from old (and probably best forgotten) Chuck Norris films to classic indie titles (“Requiem for a Dream”) to somewhat more recent movies such as “Black Adam.” You’ll also find full seasons of TV shows ranging from oldies (“The Honeymooners”) to more recent fare (“The Masked Singer”).

Tubi now has more than 250 live channels and content from more than 450 partners. Tubi acquired the rights to BBC’s dramedy “Boarders,” which follows five talented Black inner-city London teens who get scholarships to a prestigious boarding school.

Warner Bros. Discovery is now providing 15 live channels and licensed hundreds of movies and TV shows, including “Batman Returns” and “Gotham,” to Tubi (and Roku). Newer titles available this year include “The Batman,” “Suicide Squad,” “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman,” as well as the series, “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.”

Tubi’s latest news is that it’s using an AI-powered search tool, called Rabbit AI, to help viewers find content they want to watch. Rabbit AI, found on the Tubi mobile app, lets you go beyond simple keyword searches and ask questions in a more natural, conversational manner.

Sign up for Tubi.

ViX is a free, ad-supported Spanish-language service owned by TelevisaUnivision, which was formerly called PrendeTV. Unlike PrendeTV, which was exclusively a free, ad-supported service, ViX also has an ad-free subscription version called ViX Premium, which costs $7 a month. In addition, it now has a newer lower-priced tier called Vix Premium with Ads, which costs $5 a month.

Both the paid (ViX Premium) and free (ViX Gratis) versions offer more than 100 entertainment channels, including movies, sports, and children’s programming. (ViX Premium also has 10,000 hours of premium programming and some exclusive live sporting events, including 7,000 hours of live soccer.) ViX has more than 40,000 hours of on-demand content, which includes shows from Univision, plus content from large media companies based in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. It also has deals with Disney, Lionsgate, and MGM to offer more than 150 films to viewers.

Other programming includes several soccer channels, nature and wildlife channels from Blue Ant Media, nine telenovela channels, and seven movie channels. There are also three family channels.

ViX is available on Amazon Fire TV devices, Apple TV and iPhones, Roku players and TVs, and Google’s Android phones and TVs.

Sign up for ViX.

TCL has launched a free streaming service that’s exclusive to its smart TVs. Although it’s billed as TCLtv+, on my TCL 6-series Roku TV it’s just called TV Channel. It includes more than 200 free, ad-supported channels and an on-demand content library offering more than 1,500 movies and TV shows. The library is buoyed by both independent and major studios, including Scripps Media, NBC Universal, FilmRise, Fremantle, Banijay, and more.

This spring the company signed a deal that brings live programmed Vevo channels to the service. It also recently two business and financial news channels from Bloomberg Media. TCLtv+ will also be developing original content through a new venture, TCLtv+ Studios. The first project, “Next Stop Paris,” is a romance film that combines professional voice actors with AI-generated animation. The film is slated to arrive this summer.

The TCLtv+ service is built atop an upgraded version of the IDEO platform, which offers interactive viewing options such as online meal ordering, personalized recipes from virtual chefs, and dynamic summaries and recaps of shows you’re watching. You can find your next binge using the voice-activated remote.

Xumo Play
Xumo Play, a joint venture between Comcast and Charter, is an ad-powered streaming video platform that offers live and on-demand content from more than 300 channels and 10,000 titles across multiple genres, including sports, action and drama, news, kids and family entertainment, live events, comedy, lifestyle, and movies.

Content on Xumo Play includes news programming (ABC News Live, Bloomberg, CBS News Latest Headlines, LiveNow from Fox), movies from FilmRise, Hallmark, and Crackle, TV shows ranging from classics (“That Girl”) to kids’ fare (“Garfield and Friends”), and sports (CBS Sports HQ, Fox Sports). Movies include classics (“Charade”) and modern classics (“American Psycho”). It also has channels curated specifically for Black and Latino audiences. 

In addition, the service struck has exclusive deal with Magnolia Pictures that brings a new Magnolia movie almost every month, with a three-month exclusive window.

Xumo first partnered with Element Electronics to launch a line of Element 4K Xumo TVs in the U.S., which are sold at Best Buy, Walmart and a few other retailers. There are also Xumu TVs sold under the Hisense and Pioneer brands.

Earlier, Comcast and Charter announced that they’d be rebranding XClass smart TVs as Xumo TVs. The Flex streaming player will be rebranded as the Xumo Stream Box.

Sign up for Xumo Play.