With services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video, there's a lot of stuff to watch online — but it'll cost you a pretty penny. If you want to watch the latest and greatest TV and movies, you'll have to shell out some money.
But if you're just looking for a way to pass a lazy afternoon, you can find a nearly endless stream of content that won't cost you a dime. From Crackle, to Tubi, to Yahoo, the internet is positively teeming with free (and legal!) TV and movies for your viewing pleasure. Take a look; you have nothing to lose but a few hours.
Credit: Shutterstock; Crackle
Amazon Video is a paid service for the most part, but you can get a taste of its award-winning shows without ever opening your wallet. Amazon is perfectly willing to give away the first episode of shows like Mozart in the Jungle, The Man in the High Castle, Tumble Leaf, Transparent, Sneaky Pete and Red Oaks. Granted, one episode of a long-running show will probably only whet your appetite for more (almost as if Amazon isn't giving away content out of the kindness of its heart), but you could watch a solid few hours of free prestige TV before you decide whether to take the plunge.
Available on: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Apple TV, computers, iOS, Nvidia Shield, Roku, smart TVs, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
The great-granddaddy of free streaming services, Crackle is still one of the best. Sony owns the site, meaning that you'll be able to find some of your favorite TV shows and movies, from Seinfeld and Heroes, to The Karate Kid and The Thing. The shows and movies are all available on a rotating basis, so you won't always be able to find exactly what you're looking for, but you'll also never want for new content. You'll also have to watch ads, but it's no worse than sitting through the average network or cable program. There are even a few original shows, like SuperMansion.
Available on: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Apple TV, computers, Google Chromecast, iOS, Nvidia Shield, Roku, PlayStation 4, smart TVs, Xbox One
No one is exactly sure what Verizon plans to do with go90, but the service is free to enjoy while the company makes up its mind. Yes, Verizon has its very own ad-supported streaming service (we were just as surprised as you were), and it's not bad at all, especially if you like nostalgia-inducing TV shows. From Veronica Mars, to Babylon 5, to Fringe, you can find a lot of weeknight cult classics. The movie selection is so-so, but there's some decent anime and a handful of web shows. Verizon customers can also stream go90 content on their phones, and it won't count against their data limits.
Available on: Android, computers, Google Chromecast, iOS
Battle-hardened cheapskates know that the public library is often the best place to stock up on free movies and TV shows, but they also know that the library closes early and has often already lent out the best stuff to other patrons. Enter Kanopy, a streaming service that works in conjunction with your local library to offer you up to six free streaming movies every month. While it's mostly documentary and art-house fare, you can still find fan favorites like Donnie Darko, Memento and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Not every library offers it, but if yours does, all you need is a library card.
Available on: Android, computers, iOS, Roku
Although it probably draws its name from the legally shady Popcorn Time BitTorrent streamer, Popcornflix is actually quite innocuous. You just download the app or visit the site, then watch popular-ish movies for free, as long as you're willing to sit through some advertisements during them. The movies come and go on a regular basis, but you can find titles like The Warriors, Stagecoach, Secretary and The Hunt for Red October. There are some throwaway web shows as well, but you can safely ignore them in favor of the campy classic films on offer.
Available on: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Apple TV, computers, Google Chromecast, iOS, Roku, Xbox One
Streaming individual movies and shows for free is relatively easy; it's much harder to find a way to stream live content. Pluto TV offers more than 75 live channels, and the remarkable thing is that you're probably even familiar with some of them. Pluto TV is particularly useful for news junkies, as you can stream NBC News, CBSN, Bloomberg TV, as well as stations for weather and sports. There's a little something for everyone, whether you want classic TV shows, kids' programming or nonstop B movies. Of course, you'll have to watch on Pluto TV's schedule rather than your own, but that shouldn't be a problem for veteran TV watchers.
Available on: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, computers, Google Chromecast, iOS, Roku, Smart TV
Credit: Pluto TV
It's probably not worth running out and buying a Roku device just to get The Roku Channel. However, if you already have one of the company's streaming gadgets, this service is a nice little perk. The Roku Channel offers a rotating selection of streaming movies, although, like with many competing services, you'll have to sit through some ads in order to watch the content. The selection is pretty good, at least. Over the last few months, Roku has offered titles like Legally Blonde; Philadelphia; Girl, Interrupted; and The Pianist. You can also find some TV shows, like Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda and The Dead Zone, although there's not much of a selection.
Available on: Roku