As consumers weigh all of the bundled options and price hikes streaming services like Netflix, Disney, and Paramount are throwing at them, it might be a good time to hit the pause button and consider some overlooked options.
While they’re not the first choice when someone says “streaming,” there are a few free, ad-supported, branded, content-rich streaming services that consumers can add to keep their costs down and still feed their binge bugs.
Free streaming from… Amazon? Yes, and 10 others too.
When ConsumerAffairs searched for “free” streaming sites, we found a treasure trove of legal ones, and most don’t require signup.
The only technical things someone has to navigate are a) they have to download a broadcaster’s app via the “Apps” section of the TV; and b) the TV must be a “Smart TV” and these will be available at bargain prices on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some services will try to trick the viewer into buying or renting something, so beware of the come-ons.
Here are some free streaming services worth checking out:
Amazon. Yes, the Amazon – has its own little-known streaming service called “Freevee” which has a mix of original titles, concerts, documentaries, Bosch, Judge Judy, etc. There’s no “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” or the big hits that come with Amazon Prime, but there’s enough to give the platform at least a chance to prove itself.
Lots of variety… and Live World Cup. Among other well-resourced free ad-supported services, another one is Crackle, which boasts a massive library of content that is already viewed by around 40 million people every month. There’s also Tubi, which currently also features football action from the FIFA World Cup. You can add Xumo to that list, which reportedly has deals with 75 content partners.
All the fodder that used to be on CBS. Because it’s owned by Paramount, Pluto has an incredible library of content from CBS such as 60 Minutes, all of the CSI flavors, and an impressive movie library that includes The Godfather, Major League, and Silence of the Lamb’s”. .
Special content for kids and mystery lovers. On a niche side, there’s Crunchyroll for anime lovers and Vudu, which has a catalog of kids shows like Thomas the Tank Engine and Sonic the Hedgehog, as well as an endless supply of crime series. A note: There is also some R-rated content on Vudu that parents should be aware of before giving their children free reign on the service.
YouTube has movies? Yes, and the evening news. While not considered a streaming service in the same way as the others, YouTube has full-length movies too. Here’s a guide on how to find them.
When ConsumerAffairs searched YouTube, we found Legally Blond, Edward Scissorhands, Rudy, Full Metal Jacket, and other major studio films free to watch with ads.
And if you’re a news dog, NBC News and ABC News also publish their nightly newscasts on their YouTube channels.
A place for everything and everything in its place. Plex doesn’t get mentioned as much in the “free” streaming conversation as it might have, but it’s an interesting mix of on-demand content, new movie trailers, and “vertical” programming like you’d find on a traditional TV would train station.
In the streaming game, services have to stay unique to stay relevant, and Plex now gives users the ability to browse all streaming services — not just Plex, but Hulu, Prime, Netflix, Roku, and more — without a Plex user – Have to leave the platform.
Free Disney? Well, sort of. Freeform is a channel owned by Walt Disney Television. The breadth of content seems to focus on teens and young adult women, and from what ConsumerAffairs has seen, engagement with this demographic is strong where other streaming services might stalk anyone and everyone.
Programming on Freeform includes syndicated off-network reruns like Young & Hungry, feature films like Ghostbusters, and TV movies like Revenge of the Bridesmaids.
Don’t forget the sultan of streaming. Roku is still the leader in free TV. The service has everything from classics from Murder, She Wrote to exclusives like Chrissy’s Court and a big bag of Christmas movies the size of old Santa Claus. The service is also adding new features like “Save List” and a “Continue Watching” section.
The only downside is that not every “smart TV” has Roku built-in, making access impossible for people with Sony Smart TV sets. However, there is a workaround here.
You may have free streaming benefits and not even know it
Scott Lieberman, founder of TouchdownMoney, told ConsumerAffairs that there are other ways to get the major streaming services for free. “For example, T-Mobile customers get MLB streaming included. Walmart+ customers get Paramount streaming bundled with their annual grocery and product delivery subscription,” he said.
“And of course Amazon Prime comes with Amazon Prime video streaming service which includes NFL Thursday Night Football. Certain Verizon Unlimited plans come with Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. So if you want to keep your costs under control, consider using the streaming services you already have but may not have activated yet.”