The 15 Best Free Streaming Services Right Now

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The 15 Best Free Streaming Services Right Now

Well, friends, we have officially reached the point where, not only are there too many paid streaming services for any one TV lover to reasonably keep track of, but too many free ones, too. Nevermind the halcyon days when navigating to a given network’s website would get you to an embedded media player streaming all of its latest shows for free—now there are enough gratis platforms that it feels like you ought to be able to find all the content, all the time, (almost) all for free.

That’s not true, of course. But while there are still thousands of streaming shows you have to spend at least some money to access (and the rare few you can only watch by buying outright), there are now thousands more that you can watch for free somewhere. In fact, there are even dozens that you can basically watch for free everywhere, including legit classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, The Dick Van Dyke Show, 3rd Rock from the Sun, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Being Human (U.K.), Shameless (U.K.), Iron Chef, Cybil and The Saint. Genuinely, good luck navigating to any one of the platforms included below and not stumbling upon at least one of those titles!

That said, while much of the content that’s free somewhere is also free elsewhere, each of the platforms we’ve rounded up for this list have something unique to offer. Some include “live tv,” others include sports, and still more incorporate fandom communities. Basically, whatever experience you’re looking for, you’re likely to find it here, for free.

As a final note, we recognize that while there is rarely such a thing as “free” in a capitalist context, the concept is even knottier when you have entertainment conglomerates, tech companies, and commercial interests crashing into each other the way they are here. Which is to say, while each of these platforms below can be considered “free” in the sense that you don’t have to enter a credit card number to start watching, they are all—save Kanopy—ad-supported in some way, and thus will cost you both your attention and time, effectively turning us all from consumer into product. Just another day in capitalist paradise!

Free-adjacent services also worth checking out: PBS (full Passport guide), Facebook Watch (full Watch guide), YouTube (full Premium guide), Reelgood (a kind of “TV Guide” for streaming), JustWatch (same)

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Crackle

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Watch Crackle

A joint venture between Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television, Crackle is an ad-supported free service that, like its OTT cousin Tubi (with whom it shares several distribution deals), trades heavily in nostalgia programming—think Charlie’s Angels, Bewitched, and Zorro. But while Tubi only stocks older shows, Crackle balances its (limited) stock of rerun Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Screen Gems, and Sony Pictures Classics content with an (also limited) assortment of both British imports like Peep Show and Fresh Meat and original programming like the Rupert Grint-starring Snatch and the AAU summer tournament-set basketball docuseries On Point. As a bonus, the user interface is clean and easy to navigate (if a bit old-fashioned).

What you get free: A real hodgepodge, but some cool things you literally can’t find anywhere else
Do you need to register an account? No. But if you choose to make one, you will be able to save videos to a “Watch Later” list and sync your progress across devices
Paid tier available? No

Where to Start: Houdini & Doyle, Being Human (U.K.), The Carol Burnett Show


Crunchyroll

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Watch Crunchyroll

If you think the tectonic shifts in the mainstream streaming landscape have been hard to keep up with these last few years, that’s nothing compared to what’s been going on in the anime space, which has been a growing concern since Crunchyroll first launched in 2006—a full year before both Netflix and Hulu launched their own streaming services. Over those 15 years, new streamers have risen and fallen, competing libraries have ambitiously collaborated and consciously uncoupled, and the pendulum has swung back and forth between a preference for subs and a preference for dubs.

Throughout it all, though, Crunchyroll has retained its cornerstone status, which makes it fitting that, as of anime’s latest brand merger in March 2022, the plates have shifted back to the very place they started: with Crunchyroll.com being the streaming home of choice for anime fans the world over. (Funimation, one of the three brands being “unified” under the Crunchyroll umbrella with this move, boasts subscribers from 52 countries and 10 languages.)

In practice, this means that, with over 1,000 anime series and movies in its library—not to mention games, manga, and the chance to socialize with other fans in each episode’s comment section—for anyone with even a passing interest in anime, Crunchyroll is the place to be.

(Check out our guide to Crunchyroll’s curated partnership with HBO Max.)

What you get free: A library of 1,000+ anime titles (both subbed and dubbed), with ads
Do you need to register an account? Yes, but it’s free (no credit card info needed)
Paid tier available? Yes. As of March 2022, Crunchyroll Premium includes “unlimited anime, no ads, and new episodes as early as one hour after Japan.” It costs $9.99/mo, with a 14-day free trial

Where to Start: Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia, Yuri!!! on ICE


IMDb TV

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Watch IMDb TV

With streaming video on demand so ascendant, we suppose it was only a matter of time before the Internet Movie Database (AKA IMDb, AKA that site you bookmarked for your parent so they could stop asking you “Who’s that person, with the face, who was in that thing with the dog…?”) developed a service of its own. Enter: IMDb TV, Amazon’s free (read: ad-supported) streaming service whose biggest leg up over its rivals is that it can present potential viewers with bright pink PLAY buttons whenever they look up a show or movie that happens to currently be available in its rotating catalog.

As for what that catalog includes? Well, while the average eye might conclude it varies little from what its rival free services offer—think anything that wouldn’t feel out of place as a marathon block on daytime cable, like Bewitched, Schitt’s Creek or Columbo—the discerning viewer will notice that it also boasts a robust collection of dramedies from USA Network’s “Blue Skies” era, crime dramas from the 1970s (and earlier), and 31 seasons of Bob Ross: The Joy of Painting. Better still, IMDb TV’s catalog offers a category few other free streamers do: originals. And not only that, but it’s a category that’s growing. The 11 IMDb TV Original series and specials currently available are set to be joined by another eight later this year (including the much-anticipated Bosch spinoff, Bosch: Legacy), with another 10 in development. Truly a gem among freebies!

That said, as part of Amazon Prime’s broader streaming remit, the IMDb TV user interface is, as Paste’s own Jim Vorel recently laid bare, a genuine nightmare. Consider yourself warned.

What you get free: Everything!
Do you need to register an account? No
Paid tier available? No, Amazon Prime is a separate service

Where to Start: Alex Rider, Pretty Hard Cases, Night Court


Kanopy/Kanopy Kids

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Watch Kanopy

If you’ve heard of Kanopy before, it’s likely been from someone praising A) its deep catalog of foreign and arthouse favorite films, B) the fact that, as a streaming reference, it’s free to access through your public library, or C) all of the above. What it’s not usually praised for is its catalog of TV shows—and for good reason. While it’s true that its tiny TV section has grown marginally more robust since we last checked in July 2020 (an update that, amusingly, includes TNT’s cheesy-fun The Librarians), it’s Kanopy Kids that’s the big draw here.

Not only does the Kids portal offer unlimited viewing—compared to the 10 per month limit with the regular Kanopy—but it’s chockablock with stellar TV content, both from the usual English-language sources (PBS and the BBC), and from non-English sources around the world. Of highest interest to most kids and families will be PBS mainstays like Sesame Street, Arthur and Molly of Denali, of course. (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, unfortunately, seems to have left the service since our last update.) But even more fun are the international series Kanopy has curated for its curious kid viewers, like The Longhouse Tales (Canada), Artzooka! (Canada/Germany), Bushwhacked! (Australia), Earth to Luna! (Brazil), Punky (Ireland, about a little girl with Down syndrome), Bino & Fino (Nigeria) and Misho & Robin (Croatia). What a selection! And what lucky kids.

What you get free: Everything!
Do you need to register an account? Yes, using your public library card
Paid tier available? No, just keep paying your taxes!

Where to Start: Staged, Sesame Street, the recently curated “Conflict in Ukraine” playlist


Peacock

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Watch Peacock

Peacock didn’t become the savior of Summer 2020 upon launch, but it is an interesting new addition to IP-based streaming services. Like HBO Max (owned by WarnerMedia), Peacock is a warehouse for NBCUniversal’s programming library (which, in addition to NBC, includes USA, Bravo, and Syfy). It’s also where you will now find favorites like Friday Night Lights, Parks and Recreation, the entire Alfred Hitchcok collection, and myriad other scripted favorites both new and old. This is not to mention a lot of Bravo reality series, WWE, and, when it’s in season (as it has already been twice since launch), coverage of both the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Of course, how long you’ll stick with the free tier now that Peacock’s growing slate of original series includes a handful of true winners (Saved by the Bell, We Are Lady Parts, Girls5eva and The Amber Ruffin Show are particular favorites around the virtual Paste watercooler) is a different question entirely. But whether or not you end up making the move to one of the platform’s paid tiers, its library of NBCUniversal classics does not disappoint.

What you get free: Thousands of hours of free content from the NBCUniversal vault, plus at least one season of past and current NBC sitcoms like The Office, Parks & Recreation and Mr. Mayor, dozens of live NBCUniversal-affiliated channels, and the pilot episode of every Peacock Original to date
Do you need to register an account? Yes, but just an email is needed for the free tier
Paid tier available? Yes, two. Peacock Premium costs $4.99/mo, and Peacock Premium Plus costs $9.99/mo. Both come with a 7-day free trial

Where to Start: Grand Crew, Psych (also available on a running live channel loop), Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (RIP)


Plex

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Watch Plex

The biggest draw when it comes to Plex, at least from the TV lover’s perspective, is its 200+ live “channels,” which include everything from Journy’s “Bourdain All Day” and IFC’s “Portlandia” to KMTV (tag line: “If it’s related to Korean Wave, it’s probably here) and a whole slate of live music channels. Individual series are also available on-demand, but they are mixed in with “Movies & TV”—you just have to scroll until you get to one of the few TV-specific categories. There’s not a lot that stands out in this library compared to the rest on this list (a comment you’ll read a lot as you scroll through this page), but the live channels mostly make up for that.

What you get free: All of the content, but none of the slick features (downloads, advanced user controls, HDR tone mapping, trailers, etc.) that come with Plex Pass
Do you need to register an account? No. You can make one, but it’s not required
Paid tier available? Yes. Plex Pass costs $4.99/mo (no free trial).

Where to Start: Comedy Bang! Bang!, The Hour, or just scroll through what’s live


Pluto TV

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Watch Pluto TV

Another streamer with legacy network roots, Pluto TV is a subsidiary of Paramount (formerly ViacomCBS). It launched in 2013 and features a huge library of on-demand content (television and movies) and literally hundreds of “live” channels (in both English and Spanish), all from more than 170 content partners. There are bingeable gems like Burn Notice, Freaks and Geeks, and The Walking Dead (en español), as well as a respectable number of “CBS Selects” (think of it as a smorgasbord of current CBS content, including The Equalizer, Good Sam and 60 Minutes). So there is enough great television available on demand that you might not even need the live element. But these are overly stimulating times! Maybe you, like us, just want to shut off your brain and let Pluto’s live streaming algorithm pick your next watch for you.

(A word of warning: If you watch on desktop, you will be stuck with an auto-play video square in the bottom right corner that you can neither close out nor minimize, and it will play something at random until you choose a title yourself. Just a heads-up!)

What you get free: Everything!
Do you need to register an account? No, but if you want to sign up to sync across devices, that option is available
Paid tier available? No

Where to Start: Ghosts (U.S.), Girlfriends, Braindead… or, again, just scroll through what’s live


PopcornFlix

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Watch PopcornFlix

Well, we can say this for PopcornFlix: What the TV half of its library lacks in depth, it makes up for in clarity of self. Divided into categories like Mysteries & Thrillers, Action TV, and Military TV—all of which are populated with titles like The Poseidon Adventure, Jason and the Argonauts, and Heros of Lucha Libre—it will be immediately clear to anyone logging on that the guiding light of PopcornFlix is “Dudes Being Stereotypical Dudes.” If that content is your jam, PopcornFlix is likely worth checking out! But if you’re looking for a bit more variety in your free fare, maybe scroll on.

What you get free: Everything! It’s not much, but it is all free
Do you need to register an account? No
Paid tier available? No

Where to Start: 21 Jump Street, Marco Polo, Thunderbirds


The Roku Channel

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Watch The Roku Channel

One of the biggest surprises (to us, at least) on this list, The Roku Channel boasts a much broader and more up-to-date library than just about every other streamer on this list, save Peacock and IMDb TV. Like so many other platforms The Roku Channel offers both a library of nostalgic favorites (read: C-list oldies) and a smattering of live channels (mostly news). But in addition to those “free streaming” mainstays, The Roku Channel leans on an ad revenue sharing model to license more recent and/or buzzy content from Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Disney, Warner Bros., and Universal. This includes recent broadcast dramas like Revenge and Chicago Med, and basic cable favorites like Project Runway and Teen Wolf. Moreover, in support of its bid to start building out its own stable of original content—a gambit that the Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Christmas Special was also part of—it more recently (and, perhaps, infamously) also acquired the library of short originals left in Quibi’s inglorious wake, rebranding them as Roku Originals. This library-within-a-library includes Reno 911: Defunded, Chance the Rapper’s Punk’d reboot and, of course, Murder House Flip. (If you’re having trouble finding the Roku Originals section, scroll sideways in the “Featured” category on the home page.) For the TRL-nostalgic among us, it also features a ton of live music video channels from Vevo 2K, iHeart, and MTV.

That said, The Roku Channel’s commitment to providing a wide swathe of free live content means that its “Live News” queue is clogged with such mis- and disinformation hubs as Newsmax, OAN, FOX Live Now, and Real America’s Voice, so if that’s a potential dealbreaker for you, be forewarned.

What you get free: Just about everything
Do you need to register an account? No, but you can if you want to sync across devices
Paid tier available? Kind of. The Roku Channel itself is free, but you have the option of adding subscriptions to other “channels” once you’re inside, like Starz, Hulu, NBA, etc. Those costs vary by streamer, but if you go through The Roku Channel, you can get a complimentary 30-day free trial for most of them

Where to Start: Project Runway, Quantum Leap, Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas


Sling Free

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Watch Sling Free

Designed more as promotional tool to nudge regretful-but-still-cost-conscious cord-cutters into subscribing to one of Sling’s live TV bundles than a genuine “free streaming service,” Sling Free wouldn’t be our top choice for a gratis binge on a quiet night in—it’s clunky, impossible to search, and stocked primarily with the same nostalgia series you can find on every other platform on this list. That said, it does have a few bright spots, including open access to a few dozen off-brand “live” channels (several news and sports options included), random free episodes of new and currently airing cable series (Killing Eve, House Hunters, Fast Foodies, etc.), and (lord, help us) a ton of content from Barstool Sports. The process of discovery isn’t particularly enjoyable—the user interface is often impenetrable, and the library organization feels inspired (in the worst way) by Amazon Prime—but free is free. May you find something fun in your hunt, should you decide to give Sling Free a shot.

What you get free: A very limited selection of nostalgia scripted series, a handful of episodes from select new cable titles, live news, and Barstool Sports
Do you need to register an account? Yes, but you only need to give your email
Paid tier available? Yes, three. The Sling Orange (30+ live channels) and Sling Blue (40+ live channels) plans each cost $35/mo, while Sling Orange & Blue (50+ live channels) costs $50/mo

Where to Start: Teen Titans Go! (limited selection), Wilfred (Australian, full series), From (AMC series, limited selection)


Tubi

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Watch Tubi

If you’re OK with ads randomly interrupting the flow of what you’re watching, and you’re looking for a little bit of everything that covers a LOT of (mostly old) ground, Tubi is the place to go. Offering a collection of live sports, news, weather, and general entertainment channels as well as more than 15,000 film and television titles from the last 70 years from studios like Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, and Warner Bros. (just to name a few), Tubi offers a bit of everything. With a selection like that, you have the opportunity to program contemporary British hits like Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Peep Show against classics from America’s Golden Age of Television (The Dick van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, The Patty Duke Show), cult broadcast faves canceled before their time (Firefly, Pitch, Almost Human), and an ever-growing list of foreign language shows that go well beyond your average anime, telenovela, or K-drama (although Tubi has those too). Speaking of foreign languages, for fans of incomprehensible British panel shows still on the fence about splashing out for BritBox, Tubi even has a few Stephen Fry seasons (series H-K) of QI currently available.

Truly, Tubi offers a grab bag of odd, often nostalgic content. Throw a dart, you’re sure to hit something unexpected and fun.

What you get free: Everything, including live sports, news (local, national, and global) and weather channels
Do you need to register an account? No, but you can make one if you want to sync across devices
Paid tier available? No

Where to Start: Pitch, Sleepy Hollow, Real Husbands of Hollywood


Rakuten Viki

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Rakuten Viki

Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have made a point of bulking up their Korean catalogs over the last few years, but with Dramafever recently gone to the streaming pasture in the sky, the most passionate fans of K-dramas (and J-dramas, and Chinese and Taiwanese dramas) will be glad to know that Rakuten Viki is more than ready to become the new niche K-drama (et al.) streaming home.

Available free with ads or ad-free with a premium monthly subscription, Rakuten Viki (or, more colloquially, just Viki) offers more than just a deep bench of live-action Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese content. It also functions as a vibrant, fan-oriented social hub. Once logged in, users can subscribe to their favorite shows, join ongoing conversations in each series’ comments section, and participate in live watch parties of “On Air” series whenever new episodes arrive. Users can also host their own private watch parties, or join in multiple watch parties at once, to binge and chat with friends from all over the world, with flexible subtitles for each user (a feature that is especially fun for shows like the reality competition I-LAND, which is both soothing and stressful in equal measure). What’s more, taking the wiki pun in its name quite seriously, Viki uses a Creative Commons licensing system to crowdsource subtitles (like, a lot of subtitles) from its fan community. This has resulted in a library of content accessible not only to the larger English, French, Spanish, and Hindi-speaking audiences one might expect, but also to smaller Czech, Finnish, Italian, and even Basque and Azeri-speaking ones. Even better: In addition to facilitating a plethora of subtitles, the Viki team has developed a robust educational feature it calls Learn Mode, which allows users to customize their language settings and toggle between scenes to learn bits of a show’s source language in media res.

What you get free: At least the first few episodes of just about everything (if not more), with ads throughout
Do you need to register an account? No, but you can if you want to sync across devices and access fun community features
Paid tier available? Yes, two. A basic Viki Pass (HD, ad-free and castable, but with a delay on new episodes) costs $4.99/mo, while a Viki Pass Plus (unlimited access to all shows available in your region, plus access to the Kocowa library, which would be $6.99/mo on its own) costs $9.99/mo. Both come with a 7-day free trial

Where to Start: Semantic Error (Viki Original, first two episodes only), So I Married an Anti-Fan (Viki Original, all episodes available), Tale of the Nine-Tailed (all episodes available)


Vix

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Watch Vix

In many ways, TelevisaUnivision’s Vix is like half the other platforms on this list: In addition to offering a small (if growing) collection of nostalgia-heavy scripted series on-demand, it also boasts a broad swathe of live sports, news, and entertainment channels, and has aspirations to bulk up its library of both scripted and unscripted originals. Where Vix differs, however, is in its target audience, i.e., Spanish speakers. All content on Vix is, and will be, in Spanish, and with the recently announced brand relaunch that will see Vix pull a Crunchyroll and unify the libraries of smaller Spanish-language streamers like PrendeTV and BlimTV under one big Vix+ roof—a move that promises to deliver over 50,000 hours of streaming content and more than 50 new scripted and unscripted Vix+ Originals—the platform is primed to be *the* home for Spanish-language streaming.

What you get free: Todo (with ads), siempre gratis y en español
Do you need to register an account? Not currently, although Vix+ may change that
Paid tier available? Yes, but not until later this year. The subscription price for Vix+ has yet to be announced

Where to Start: No olvidarás mi nombre, Rookie Blue (dubbed), all of Vix Kids


Vudu

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Watch Vudu

Officially owned by Fandango (though originally launched as a joint venture between NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia), Vudu features both a free ad-supported tier and the option to rent and/or purchase whatever titles you might want to watch without ads. On the free side, there’s little that separates Vudu’s TV library from others on this list—you can stream Hell’s Kitchen, The Saint, and 3rd Rock from the Sun on Vudu just as easily as you can everywhere else. That said, one thing Vudu does offer that other platforms currently don’t is brightly colored, crystal clear signage as to what titles are free with ads and what are only available for rent/purchase. The organization of said free library is on the level of Amazon Prime (read: awful), but at the very least you won’t get stuck navigating through many screens of promising titles only to find they aren’t actually free.

What you get free: A lot! But not everything, and very little that’s exclusive
Do you need to register an account? Not to watch the titles available for free, but if you want the option to rent and/or purchase anything at any point, you will need to register an account
Paid tier available? Not in the subscription sense, but you can choose to purchase titles (by season or by episode) at will should you create an account and add a credit card number

Where to Start: Baby Einstein Classics, Drifters, Dance Academy


Xumo

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Watch Xumo

Another “live channel” service with a muddled history of corporate ownership—in this case, a 2011 joint venture between Meredith Corporation (under the auspices of Viant) and Panasonic that was then acquired by Comcast in 2020—Xumo aims to bring the linear channel surfing experience to the streaming age. Currently offering more than 190 “live” channels that cover everything from family fare and sports to live news (including, frustratingly, Newsmax), Xumo works best when approached with a flexible, channel surfing mindset. This is because, while individual shows and episodes are available on-demand, you have to first navigate to a home channel’s live feed, and then scroll down to see what shows are available under that particular umbrella. And even then, there’s no guarantee that whatever channel you’ve surfed to will offer anything beyond what’s currently running live. Also, there’s no native search feature, so if there’s anything you might want to look for specifically, you’ll have to turn to Google.

What you get free: Everything (though good luck finding things without a search bar).
Do you need to register an account? No. In fact, it’s impossible to do so
Paid tier available? No

Where to Start: Off-Script with Sohla (Food 52), It’s Showtime At the Apollo Season 1 (Xumo ‘80s TV), Yo Gabba Gabba! (Xumo Kids)



Alexis Gunderson is a TV critic and audiobibliophile. She can be found @AlexisKG.

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