As cable subscription prices have risen higher and higher, and customer satisfaction ratings have fallen lower and lower, cutting cable has never been more popular.
Sure, there are the usual big names in streaming services available for a monthly fee, but it is possible to charge the subscription fee in full.
Fortunately, there are more options than ever to replace the traditional cable setup. Many free streaming services have stepped up to provide access to content that subscription-based services overlook.
And you’re not limited to staring at your phone screen or the family gathering around your old iPad to watch your favorite TV series and movies – you can download apps to your smart TV or even your Xbox or PlayStation.
Of course, there are some shady options that stream pirated content. But we’ve put together free and legal streaming apps that provide cable cutting solutions without restrictions.
13 Free TV Apps That Will Help You Cut Cable
With so many free streaming options out there, it’s easier than ever to cut the cord and save a lot. Whether you’re looking to keep up with the news, find a good movie on a date or entertain your kids with educational content, there’s a streaming service out there to ensure you can do it without paying a dime.
Try these free TV apps and see what works for you.
Crackle is one of the go-to names not only in free streaming but in video streaming in general. The free service has a wide variety of content, ranging from classic TV shows like “Bewitched” and “Barney Miller” as well as the more recent “Snatch” series. It also has hundreds of films from major studios.
For a free streaming service, Crackle Library is really great. Crackle even has a few original series to its name. Best of all, Crackle works on almost all mobile devices, streaming boxes, and smart TVs.
2. TV tubes
A division of FOX Entertainment, Tubi TV has deals with major studios such as Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Lionsgate. It also features a lot of foreign and independent productions.
Tubi TV’s library is updated regularly, and the service claims to add new content every week. The Tubi TV app works on more than 18 devices, including Android, iOS, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox, Samsung Smart TVs, and Amazon Fire TV.
The library is strong and has started offering popular Fox TV series such as “The Masked Singer” and “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back.”
Since the service is ad-supported, you can expect to see a few minutes of ads every 10 minutes or so. The experience is very similar to watching regular TV.
3. Pluto TV
Pluto TV offers TV channels with linear content much like a cable package
There are dozens of classic TV, movie and sports channels – and even some highly curated streams of niche content.
If you are looking for breaking news, you can choose from a variety of major news channels that are broadcast live.
Kids (or kids at heart) can watch Nickelodeon classics like “The Fairly Odd Parents” and “Dora the Explorer.”
Or if you just want to get off the veggies, head over to Binge’s menu for a seemingly endless stream of TV series, like “The Hills” and “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
Pluto TV features a large list of supported devices including iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast and Android TV devices.
Like Tubi TV, Pluto TV has ads similar to loading ads for regular TV.
Video streaming is not always just about entertainment. The NewsON app provides hundreds of local and national news streams.
Both live TV and on-demand news can be broadcasted from over 275 local news affiliates in 160 markets. Broadcasts are available up to 48 hours after they air, so even if you don’t catch the news as it happens, you can catch up on it later.
Users can then select the news segments they want to watch from categories such as sports, weather or entertainment. NewsON is compatible with iOS and Android phones and tablets, as well as Roku and Amazon Fire TV.
5. PBS Kids
Kids need free streaming content, too. PBS has a PBS Kids Video app that provides hundreds of hours of educational and enriching content for the youngest members of the family. The application has a colorful and child-friendly interface, which makes it easier for children to control themselves.
You can even click the “Live TV” button to watch what’s currently being broadcast on your local PBS station.
Almost all networks and cable TV channels have their own free apps that you can download – although many do charge you to actually watch existing content.
Videos from many of the most popular series on PBS are available for streaming, including “Curious George,” “Wild Kratts,” and “Sesame Street.” PBS Kids app is supported for Android phones and tablets, iOS phones and tablets
Whether you want it now or later, Xumo offers live TV and on-demand options.
Like Pluto, you can choose from a variety of major network news channels like NBC News that goes live.
But it also includes more than 180 free channels, including themed channels in case you’re in the mood for action movies or comedies.
Xumo is available on most smart TVs. It is also available on Roku and for download on iOS and Android devices.
Many free TV apps offer “premium” channels – if you see that word, expect to pay for these services.
7. Crunchy Roll
Anime and manga fans are likely to be familiar with Crunchyroll. It specializes in mostly Japanese content, but also shows movies and series from all over the world. Crunchyroll boasts a library of thousands of anime movies and series, many of which are hard to find on other streaming services.
There is a paid feature, but the free Crunchyroll service has thousands of hours of popular series like “Dragon Ball”, “Attack on Titan”, “Naruto” and “One Piece”.
Crunchyroll is supported by Apple, Android, and Windows mobile devices, as well as game consoles, Chromecast, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku.
Crunchyroll is a great app for anyone interested in anime. Of course, when it comes to cartoon content, you have to be vigilant with your young children, as much of it is geared towards teens (and sometimes adults).
For anyone with a passing interest in gaming and esports, Twitch is the free live streaming service.
Twitch hosts user-generated channels and broadcasts focused on video games and other esports. It features a built-in chat feature, so users can chat with other live streams in real time.
You’re there anyway – why not get paid to play video games? Here are four simple ways to start earning real cash for virtual play.
Although there are thousands of free streams, Twitch also has premium features for a monthly subscription. Twitch apps are compatible with PC, iOS and Android devices, game consoles, Chromecast, Apple TV, and Fire TV.
While Twitch is popular with kids, parents should be careful: Twitch streams are somewhat unregulated and can sometimes contain adult language or content.
9. IMDb TV
IMDb TV (formerly Freedive), owned by Amazon, has a collection of full episodes of your current and classic favorite TV shows as well as a selection of movies.
The catalog includes some great sci-fi works like “Lost” and “Fringe”.
The free version of IMDbTV is ad-supported, so you will have to sit for some commercial breaks.
It’s available in the US on IMDb, Amazon Prime Video, and Amazon Fire TV devices.
yes youtube. YouTube apps are compatible with nearly every device with a screen, and the service features videos to choose from on just about any topic imaginable.
Most of these videos aren’t completely premium content, but there are still plenty of full-length movies, documentaries, and curated channels that provide free entertainment for the whole family.
While there are ways to download YouTube content for offline viewing, proceed with caution: many of these sites and apps are riddled with malware.
NBCUniversal launched this streaming service, which includes over 7,500 hours of free content, in July 2020.
Although Peacock offers paid options, the free version includes current and classic TV shows, movies, news, sports, children’s shows, Spanish language programming, and even select episodes of Peacock’s originals.
If you’re a fan of shows like “The Office,” “Law and Order: SVU,” or “Saturday Night Live,” you can watch them on this streaming service.
Customers can stream Peacock on a variety of platforms, including LG Smart TVs, Vizio SmartCast TVs, Roku, Google, Apple, Playstation and Xbox devices.
12. Roku Channel
Even if you don’t have a Roku, you can download the free Roku Channel app. This channel hosts a rotating selection of free movies and TV series. Previous shows have included options like 24, Alias and Army Wives.
The Roku channel is also home to a large number of Roku Originals, such as Singled Out, Elba vs Block, and Mapleworth Murders. US residents in Canada can also stream live news 24/7. All content is ad-free, which is a rarity in the world of free TV apps, and does not require a subscription.
You can of course access the Roku channel from your Roku device. But you can also get it on any Samsung TV, Amazon Fire TV device, or any iOS or Android mobile device.
If you like action, sci-fi, or horror movies, you might want to check out Popcornflix. Some of the categories of free movies and free TV shows on this platform include: “Attack of the Giant Whatever”, “Horror + Action = Amazing” and “The Spy Who Saved Me”.
You can access Popcornflix on any Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, or Roku device. You can also access it via Xbox One, or any Apple or iOS mobile devices. While you won’t need a Popcornflix subscription, you will have to watch some ads scattered throughout the content.
Writer Nicole Dow and The Penny Hoarder contributors Chris Brantner and Brian Conroy contributed to this report.