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Home / Tips and Tricks / Best Free TV Streaming Services: Roku, Sling TV, IMDb, Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Plex and More

Best Free TV Streaming Services: Roku, Sling TV, IMDb, Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Plex and More



Netflix may be the best streaming service and Hulu the best bargain for streaming TV but they both still cost you money. In the uncertain financial times of the coronavirus pandemic, you may want to cut your streaming costs, well, for free. The good news ? As long as you have the internet, you can enjoy a wealth of free TV.

In response to the boom in streaming caused by staying at home
orders, numerous services have rolled out freebies and extensive trial offers. But as the crisis ends, some of those offers have come to an end or has changed over time . However, there are still many available and many of the services below will be free in the near future. How do they do it?

First of all many of these services are ad supported so you cannot skip advertising. Most have older shows and movies, sort of standard cable reruns. And some network sites don't let you stream all of their shows unless you're a paid cable or satellite subscriber, but many offer a selection of things you can watch without logging in or paying. Let's take a look at some of the best free, legal ways to spoil your inner couch potato, which we'll update regularly. (Prefer movies? Check out these 1

0 Free Netflix Alternatives .) Note that Showtime, Pluto TV and CBS News, all listed below, are owned by CNET's parent company ViacomCBS.

Read more : The best free stuff while stuck at home

Roku Channel

Roku Channel is designed for people who own the company's streaming products, but everyone can use it with a telephone or PC browser and a connection to the Internet. And now, as part of the Home Together initiative, the service offers 30 days of free access to over 20 premium channels . The free channels are Showtime, Epix, Smithsonian, Acorn TV and Hallmark.

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What You Can Watch: The selection of TV shows is heavy on reality TV, such as Hoarders and Hell & # 39; s Kitchen, and crime shows such as Cold Case. Unfortunately, not every series is complete and in some cases the service only offers one episode. However, there is plenty to see, including a special children's section and another for live news . There is also a solid range of older films from the past, including Stand By Me, The Karate Kid and Donnie Darko. Aside from the 30-day free offer above, you can subscribe to premium services, including HBO just as you can on Amazon Prime Video channels or the Apple TV app . [19659005] What You Can Watch: As you would expect, you can get the Roku channel on Roku devices including streamers and Roku TVs . However, you can also watch the Roku channel in any browser or via the iOS or Android Roku apps, although it doesn't offer the ability to download shows for offline viewing. There is also a Roku Channel app on Samsung Smart TVs.

Read more: Watching TV at home? Here are the best streaming devices for

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Daniel Levy as David Rose and Catherine O & # 39; Hara as Moira Rose in Schitt & # 39; s Creek.

CBC Television


Launched early last year as FreeDive and was renamed in July and infusion of content . This free service carries the venerable branding of the Internet movie Database, a mother lead of movie stories that has been an Amazon subsidiary since 1998. Amazon happens to be Roku & # 39; s biggest competitor in streaming hardware with its Fire TV devices, which is why you may need a Fire TV – or a computer connected to a TV – to run IMDb TV. watch on a real TV.

What you can watch: As you'd expect, the service focuses primarily on movies, for example Paddington, Spider-Man (the 2002 version) and Elf, but it also has a solid selection of TV series. The selection is similar to Roku's, but also includes five seasons of feel-good choice Schitt & # 39; s Creek (which is also commercially free on Netflix). Other titles include A & E's Cold Case Files, History & # 39; s The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer and nine seasons of the Gen X classic Little House on the Prairie, starring Michael Landon.

Where to Watch: Any PC or Mac browser or Amazon Prime Video app on a phone or tablet can stream IMDb TV, but the only real TV devices that can access are Fire TV streamers and smart TVs with the Fire TV Edition software. You also need an account, although it works seamlessly with any Amazon account.

Read more: No more stuff on Netflix? Try one of these free streaming TV trials

Sling TV

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Sling TV

Recently Renamed Happy Hour Across America Sling TV offers free on-demand TV, movies, and 50 channels of live TV from 5:00 PM. ET (2 p.m. PT) until midnight wherever you are.

What You Can Watch: Sling TV & # 39; s Rebrand of Its Existing Free Streaming Service Includes the Existing Sling TV Blue, Which Dozens of Channels including Cartoon Network, Comedy Central and CNN. As an added bonus, Sling TV's seven-day trial period no longer requires a credit card. Meanwhile, the paid version of Sling TV is one of CNET & # 39; s favorite live TV streaming services for $ 30 a month

What you can watch: Sling TV & # 39 ; s Happy Hour is supported by the same devices that are Sling – they use the same app – and the list has been expanded : from streamers to consoles to mobile devices.

Read more: Best live TV streaming service for cord cutters in 2020


Sony & # 39; s Crackle is an ad-supported streaming service that mainly offers movies but also some TV shows – including original content. It's available on a wide variety of devices and you don't even need to create an account, but it allows you to save favorites, get recommendations, and resume playback when you switch between devices.

What You Can Watch: Crackle & # 39; s commercially supported selection isn't particularly extensive, with just over 100 different shows, and mainly consists of family sitcoms such as All in the Family, Roseanne and Who's in charge. As above, not every series is complete. In some cases, you may only get one or two seasons, or even a partial season.

What you can look at: Crackle's list of devices covers most platforms. The service offers apps for all mobile platforms, game consoles and large streaming devices. In fact, it's baked into a lot of smart TVs. It does not allow downloading shows for offline viewing.

Pluto TV

Pluto TV is notable for offering not only on-demand movies but also live TV channels, including CBS News and, ahem, CNET. It's ad-supported, of course, but it's definitely one of the best free content options available right now.

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Screenshot by Rick Broida / CNET

What You Can Watch: Pluto offers an impressive selection of live channels, all sorted into categories such as news, sports, comedy and movies in a grid format. On-demand TV content mainly consists of crime and reality shows and is not nearly as well organized as the live channels. An odd one out: If you're watching a live stream, there's no way to pause. You can only mute it.

What You Can Watch: Pluto TV works in desktop browsers, but also offers a Windows client. It has apps for Android, iOS and various smart TVs and channels for Apple TV ($ 179 at Apple) Fire TV and Roku.

Tubi TV

The name belies the content: Tubi TV offers considerably more movies than TV shows, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't visit the extensive library. Like Crackle, this ad-supported network is available on a wide variety of devices and doesn't require an account, but signing up for it can save favorites and resume playback when you switch between devices.

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Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury / CNET

What you can watch: As you would expect from a free movie service Tubi TV is definitely not Hulu. The TV roster offers some of the reality shows we're used to, like Hell's Kitchen and The Apprentice, plus eccentric inclusions like Australian drama McLeod's Daughters. There is no dedicated TV section, just a few TV specific categories (comedies, dramas, reality and so on) within the much larger content list.

What You Can Watch: Tubi TV & # 39; s list of devices rivals Crackle's. The service offers apps for Android and iOS, the main game consoles and streaming devices, and some Samsung TVs. It does not provide the ability to download content for offline viewing.

Network Sites: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and PBS

With just about any major network, you can stream shows via a website or mobile app, which seems like good news for cord cutters. So what if you couldn't watch the latest episode of Bob & # 39; s Burgers? Just launch the Fox Now app and stream it on demand. At least that's the idea.

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What You Can Watch: If a program is currently being broadcast, chances are you can watch it online on a network site. In some cases, however, there is a Catch-22: many networks require you to have an active service provider (such as cable or satellite). Unless you can provide valid credentials, you cannot stream. That goes for networks like AMC and Syfy, meaning there are no episodes of The Walking Dead or Deadly Class for you. But CBS, TBS, The CW, and a few others let you watch at least some episodes of some shows without logging in. So you will have to poke around a bit.

Where to watch: This also varies from one network to another, but in most cases you can watch shows in a browser, on a mobile device or through a media streamer app . But download options are rare, so don't expect to watch programs offline unless you pay for them. Here is the list of important network sites.

Read more: Free live TV news to watch now: stream ABC, CBS, Fox News, CNN and more


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Plex started as a way for users to stream content stored on users' computers, but has evolved to include other resources such as OTA broadcasts Tidal and now free streaming TV. You don't even need to install the Plex server on your PC or NAS, just sign up for a Plex account.

What You Can Watch: The service's free offering started in December with a modest amount of ads, mostly movies, but in May 2020 it partnered with Crackle, with thousands of additional TV & # 39 ; s shows and movies from that service, including Snatch, Kitchen Nightmares, Roseanne and Third Rock from the Sun. Plex also has a number of free programs, namely: On Point, a basketball focus series, and Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life, about a Cherokee rapper.

Where You Can Watch: Plex is offered on many platforms including browsers, Roku, Apple TV, Android and iOS.

Hoopla Digital

Do you have a library card? Check if your library has partnered with Hoopla. This digital media service allows you to watch everything from ebooks to movies to TV shows. If you borrow one, you have 72 hours to look at it. Your library determines the total number of titles you can borrow monthly.

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Hoopla's TV selection includes many things that are both enriching and educational, as well as some regular content.

Screenshot by Rick Broida / CNET

What You Can Watch: Hoopla & # 39; s TV Selection is kind of a mishmash, with a few well-known shows mixed with plenty of self-help, documentaries and family expenses. For example, you'll find three seasons of the original SyFy Humans, both seasons of The Jim Gaffigan Show, and many Ken Burns documentaries. Hoopla also has instructional videos from The Great Courses series, several PBS Kids shows, and plenty of Acorn TV content that would otherwise require a subscription.

Where You Can Watch: Hoopla content can be viewed almost anywhere: mobile devices, streaming devices, and on your PC in a browser. Surprisingly, the mobile apps not only offer streaming, but also a download option for offline viewing.

Read more: All the latest Roku coupons

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