13 Free TV Apps to Download Now
Disillusioned by Netflix’s password sharing crackdown?
Luckily, there are more options than ever for replacing your traditional cable setup without shelling out cash. Many free streaming services have stepped up to offer access to content overlooked by subscription-based services.
And you aren’t confined to squinting at your phone’s screen or gathering the family around the old iPad to watch your favorite TV series and movies — you can download apps to your Smart TV or even your Xbox or PlayStation consoles.
Of course, there are some rather shady options out there that stream pirated content. But we’ve rounded up free, legal streaming apps that provide no-strings-attached cable-cutting solutions.
13 Free TV Apps That Will Help You Cut Cable
- Tubi TV
- Pluto TV
- PBS Kids
- Xumo Play
- The Roku Channel
Whether you’re looking to keep up with the news, find a good movie for date night or entertain your kids with educational content, a streaming service exists to ensure you can do so without paying a dime.
Try these free TV apps out and see which works best for you.
One of the go-to names in free streaming is Crackle. The cost-free service has a variety of content, ranging from classic TV shows like “The Doris Day Show” and “Dennis the Menace,” as well as the newer shows and originals, like “This is Paradise. It also has hundreds of films from major studios.
For a free streaming service, Crackle’s library is truly impressive. Best of all, Crackle works on nearly all mobile devices, streaming boxes and smart TVs.
2. Tubi TV
A division of FOX Entertainment, Tubi TV has deals with major studios like Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Lionsgate. It also features lots 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 22 devices, including Android and iOS, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox, Samsung Smart TVs and Amazon Fire TV.
The library is solid and has started offering popular Fox TV series like “The Masked Singer” and “LEGO Masters.”
Since the service is ad-supported, you can expect to watch a couple minutes of ads every 12 minutes or so. The experience is pretty similar to watching normal television.
3. Pluto TV
Pluto TV offers TV channels of linear content much like a cable package, though there are plenty of on-demand options, too.
There are dozens of classic TV, movie and sports channels — and even some highly curated streams of niche content.
If you’re looking for breaking news, you can choose from an assortment of major network news channels that are live streaming.
The kids (or kids at heart) can check out Nickelodeon classics like “Hey, Arnold!” and “Rugrats.”
Pluto TV boasts a large list of supported devices including iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Google TV and Chromecast devices and Android TV.
Pluto TV has advertisements that occur with annoying frequency. But, hey, the service is 100% free.
Streaming video isn’t always just about entertainment. The NewsON app provides hundreds of local and national news streams.
Both live TV and on-demand news broadcasts can be streamed from over 275 local news affiliates in 165 markets. The broadcasts are available for up to 48 hours after they air, so even if you don’t catch the news as it happens, you can catch up later.
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 app has a colorful, child-friendly interface, which makes it easy for kids to take control themselves.
You can even tap the “Live TV” button to watch what’s currently airing on your local PBS station.
Videos from many of PBS’s most popular series are available for streaming including “Curious George,” “Wild Kratts” and “Arthur.” The PBS Kids app is supported for Android phones and tablets, iOS phones and tablets, and the Amazon Kindle.
6. Xumo Play
In late 2022, Xumo partnered with Comcast and Charter to expand their services to include devices and Xumo TVs. But don’t fret. If you’re looking for the free content, you can still find it all by downloading the Xumo Play channel.
Like Pluto, Xumo Play lets you choose from an assortment of major network news channels like CBS News that are live streaming.
But it also includes more than 180 free channels, including themed ones in case you’re in the mood for action movies or comedies.
Xumo is available on most smart TVs. It’s also available on Roku and for download on iOS and Android devices. Depending on your cable provider, you may be able to get it directly through your cable box, too.
Many of the free TV apps offer “premium” channels — if you see that word, expect to pay for those services.
Anime and manga fans are likely already familiar with Crunchyroll. It specializes in mostly Japanese content, but it also features films and series from all over the world. Crunchyroll boasts a library of thousands of anime films and series, many of which are hard to find on other streaming services.
There is a paid premium feature, but the free Crunchyroll service has thousands of hours of popular series like the “Dragon Ball” franchise, “Attack on Titan,” “Naruto” and “One Piece.”
The Crunchyroll app is supported by Apple, Android and Windows mobile devices, as well as by gaming consoles, Apple TV 4K, Google TV, Android TV, Fire TV and Roku.
Crunchyroll is a great app for anyone with an interest in anime. Of course, when it comes to anime content, you have to be watchful with your younger children, as a lot of it is geared toward teens (and sometimes even adults.)
For anyone with even a passing interest in gaming and esports, Twitch is the go-to free streaming service.
Twitch hosts user-created channels and streams focused on video games and other esports. It features a built-in chat feature, so users can chat with other streamers in real time.
While there are thousands of free streams, Twitch also features premium features for a monthly subscription. Twitch apps are compatible with PCs, iOS and Android devices, game consoles, Chromecast, Apple TV and Fire TV.
While Twitch is popular with children, parents should be aware: Twitch streams are somewhat unregulated and can sometimes contain adult language or content.
Owned by Amazon, Freevee (formerly IMDb TV) features a host of full episodes of your favorite current and classic TV shows as well as an array of movies.
The catalog includes some binge-worthy sci-fi hits like “Lost” and “The Dresden Files.”
Unlike some of the other channels you may stream with your paid Prime account, Freevee is ad-supported, so you’ll have to sit through a few commercial breaks.
You can watch Freevee on iOS or Android devices, Amazon Fire TVs, Roku TVs, Apple TVs, Android TVs, Google TVs, Samsung smart TVs, LG smart TVs, Playstation 4 or 5, Xbox and Xfinity devices.
Yes, YouTube. YouTube apps are compatible with just about every device that has a screen, and the service features videos to choose from on nearly any topic imaginable.
Most of those videos are not exactly premium content, but there are still plenty of full-length films, documentary series and curated channels that provide cost-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 full of malware.
CW has a free streaming app. While you can’t watch every episode of every CW show ever, you can catch quite a lot of content, including new episodes of shows that are currently airing on TV. There are also some shows that originally aired on other networks. Past offerings have included Heroes, Run the Burbs and 90210.
You can watch the CW channel at CWTV.com, or you can stream it Roku, Vizio smart TVs, LG TVs, Chromecast, and on iOS, Amazon Fire or Android devices.
12. The 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. Past offerings have included options like The Mentalist, Bones and Heartland.
The Roku Channel is also home to slew of Roku Originals, like UFO Cowboys, Children Ruin Everything and Panhandle. Those in the US in Canada can also stream live news 24/7. The Roku Channel does have ads, but it doesn’t require a subscription.
You can access the Roku Channel from your Roku device or by using the Roku mobile app.
If you’re into action flicks, sci-fi or horror, you might want to check out Popcornflix. Some of the categories of free movies and free tv shows on this platform include: “Legends of Action,” “Thriller Instincts” and “Sci-Fi Stop.”
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 subscription for Popcornflix, you will have to watch a few ads spread throughout the content.
Pittsburgh-based writer Brynne Conroy is the founder of the Femme Frugality blog and the author of “The Feminist Financial Handbook.” She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Former staff writer Nicole Dow contributed to this report.