Web exclusive: Stay entertained at home with free video streaming

Home COVID-19 Casual Content Web exclusive: Stay entertained at home with free video streaming

By Megan Salzano

When Netflix isn’t enough, or you just don’t want to spend your money on another streaming service, there are actually 10 free options you can turn to for all the movies and TV you can possibly binge watch while stuck indoors. (Starting today, April 3, HBO is also jumping on the free streaming bandwagon!) Each service provides its own unique offering—some with classic black-and-white films; others with newly released blockbusters. Below find well-known services as well as those less explored (but equally worth diving into).


Crackle is Sony’s ad-supported streaming service that offers both movies and TV shows, including some original content. No account is necessary (although signing up does unlock some useful features like saving favorites and resume playback) and the service is available on a variety of devices.


Starting today, April 3, and for a limited time, HBO is offering access to about 500 hours of free streaming content in the hopes it will help alleviate the isolation blues (and, of course, bring awareness to its new HBO Max streaming service set to launch in May). Users without a subscription will be able to access some of its most popular content, including shows like “The Sopranos” and “Veep” and a variety of Warner Bros. movies. A lot of the content is aimed at family audiences (I’m looking at you, “Pokémon Detective Pikachu”) and is available to stream on HBO GO and HBO Now. (A quick Google search will also bring you to a host of paid services that have extended their free trial timeframes.)


Hoopla is unique in that it partners with libraries to offer a wide assortment of available-to-stream content—including movies. The service allows you to “borrow” your content for up to 72 hours before it has to be “returned” to the library. Check to see if your library is a partner and then “check out” content with your library card.

The Internet Archive

If classic, black and white is your thing, then The Internet Archive is for you. It’s home to everything public domain, meaning thousands of feature-length black and white movies. The service is free and requires no account setup, but, like Crackle, signing up does have its perks. (There is a whole lot of additional content, including free books and software, too.)


We usually turn to IMDb as a source for movie and tv information, but its newest venture now allows users to watch those movies and TV shows for free. It’s got an impressive list already available, including “Schitts Creek,” “The Never Ending Story” and “Elf”.


If your library isn’t partnered with Hoopla, there’s a chance it’s because it signed up with Kanopy. This service also partners with some U.S. libraries to offer commercial-free content—including a large selection of indie films and documentaries. There’s also a new Kanopy Kids section with family-friendly content (with some pretty unique and rarely-seen-elsewhere movies). 


At its core, Plex is about its server software. However, the company has stepped into the free movie streaming life. While there are movies here that can also be found elsewhere, it also supplies user-friendly access to news, podcasts and more.

Pluto TV

Pluto is CBS’ free streaming service. It might not be that well know, but it does offer a sleek look and user-friendly navigation—movies are sorted into useful categories, including its oddly obsessive ‘James Bond 007’ category. It has a variety of on-demand movies and TV shows—even an option for Live TV.

The Roku Channel

The Roku Channel doesn’t provide free-movies itself, but instead acts as a conduit to currently available free content that can be found elsewhere. It features content from some of its partners like Sony, MGM, Lionsgate and Warner as well as from existing Roku channels.


Tubi has thousands of available TV and movies to watch, but its claim to fame is probably offering a variety of titles not easily found elsewhere—in fact, be sure to check out it’s “Not on Netflix” category. 


Walmart’s streaming service, Vudu, is maybe best well known as the Blue-ray code redemption site or video rental platform. But, it also has a massive library of free movies (and they’re constantly changing the assortment). You will have to deal with some ads, but they don’t have long run times and usually fade into the background.


Have you heard of it? Okay, so YouTube is one of the better-known digital content services. And, yes, while you can watch everything from music videos and Honest Trailers (these have been keeping me so hilariously sane this week) to make up tutorials and how-to wash your clothes in the sink videos, they also a have a good selection of free movies (ads included, but, hey, it’s free).

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