12 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.
12 Free TV Apps That Will Help You Cut Cable
- Tubi TV
- Pluto TV
- PBS Kids
- 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 not just in free streaming but in streaming video in general is Crackle. The cost-free, ad-supported service has a variety of content, ranging from classic TV shows like “Just Shoot Me!” and “The Doris Day Show,” as well as the newer “Going from Broke” series. It also has hundreds of films from major studios.
For a free streaming service, Crackle’s library is truly impressive. Crackle even has a handful of original series to its name. 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 23 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 “Master Chef: Back to Win.”
Since the service is ad-supported, you can expect to watch a couple minutes of ads every 10 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.
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 movies like “Zapped” and “Rock Dog 2.”
Those who are a little older can watch classics from their past, like “Harlem Nights” or “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” There are even current TV shows that are still airing, like “Ghosts.”
Pluto TV boasts a large list of supported devices including iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Playstation consoles, and Android TV.
Like Tubi TV, Pluto TV has advertisements similar to the ad load of normal TV.
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 only states that don’t have coverage are Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, South Dakota, and Wyoming. 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.
Users can then select which news segments they want to watch from categories like sports, weather or entertainment, depending on what’s available in your market. NewsON is compatible with iOS and Android phones and tablets, as well as Roku, Samsung Smart TVs 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 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 “Sesame Street.” The PBS Kids app is supported for Android phones and tablets, iOS phones and tablets, and Amazon Fire tablets and TVs.
6. Xumo Play
Whether you want it now or later, Xumo Play offers live TV and on-demand options.
Like Pluto, you can choose from an assortment of major network news channels like NBC News that are live streaming.
But it also includes more than 250 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.
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 “Naruto” and “One Piece.”
Other shows are split between free and premium. You can watch the “Attack on Titan” series for free, but you’ll have to upgrade to Premium to watch the “Chronicle” movie. You can watch the first three episodes of “Dragon Ball” for free, but after that you’ll need a Premium membership.
The Crunchyroll app is supported by Apple and Android mobile devices, as well as by gaming consoles including Nintendo Switch, and on Chromecast, Apple 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 “Fringe.” It also has a lot of original content, like “Judy Justice,” “Sprung” and “Love Accidentally.”
Freevee is ad-supported, so you’ll have to sit through a few commercial breaks.
It is available in the United States on a host of devices, including Apple TVs, Rokus, Xbox, and iOS and Android devices. Oh, and on FireTV and Prime Video. Obviously.
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.
11. The Roku Channel
Even if you don’t have a Roku, you can download the free Roku app. This channel hosts a rotating selection of free movies and TV series. Past offerings have included options like 24, Alias and Army Wives.
The Roku Channel is also home to slew of Roku Originals, like Martha Gardens, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, and a new version of Punk’d hosted by Chance the Rapper. Those in the US and Canada can also stream live news 24/7. The Roku Channel does have ads, but it’s about half the ad-load of traditional TV, and doesn’t require a subscription.
You can access the Roku Channel from your Roku device, iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire TV and select Samsung TVs.
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,” “Animals Attack” and “We Are Not Alone.”
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.