The spread of broadband Internet is changing the way we watch TV and movies. A lot of people are cutting the cable company cord or dropping that satellite service in favor of online streaming. If you’ve been wondering where you can find movies and TV shows to watch for free online without breaking the law, then we’ve got you covered.
Below is a compilation of seven services where you’ll find everything from older films or B-movies to documentaries, cult classics, and more popular mainstream releases from the big and small screen. We also have a few honorable mentions covering traditional TV networks that are streaming their content online as well as popular paid online streaming alternatives.
Over 6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every single month. Most of them are music and funny videos, but you can find free full length movies and TV shows on there as well. The vast majority are older films or B-movies, but you’ll discover the odd gem if you look hard enough. Videos may be split into multiple chapters, and you’ll have to put up with ads.
You can find an impressive selection of TV shows and movies on Hulu for free, and the content is supported by ads. Hulu is backed by NBC Universal, Fox, and Disney, and it has struck agreements with a wide variety of networks and partners.
There is also an optional subscription service called Hulu Plus ($7.99 per month) which offers a much wider library of content and support for mobile devices, although it stillincludes ads. In either case their video library can only be watched from within the United States.
Owned by Sony and available for free, Crackle is a good place to check for TV shows and movies. The service is supported by ads and it offers a mixture of older content and B-movies with the odd blockbuster or top TV show. There’s also a free Crackle app for all major mobile platforms. The content changes quite frequently and big titles tend to be available for a limited time only.
This is a great resource for full-length movies, TV footage, and all kinds of videos that are in the public domain. Most of the movies are older, but you’ll find some real classics on offer. The archive is also packed with curiosities and oddities including sporting events, old news broadcasts, and propaganda films.
Here’s another collection of relatively obscure movies and TV shows that you can stream for free. Viewster is ad-supported with an interesting mixture of content and apps for various platforms.
You can find documentaries, cult classics, and film festival favorites at Snag Films. Everything is neatly categorized, so you can dip into the strange mixture and identify something worth watching. The content is ad-supported and it’s available as an app for all the major platforms.
This is a creative hub for a lot of amateur and indie filmmakers, and you’ll find a wide variety of videos divided into lots of different categories. Most of the content is short form and you aren’t going to find big name shows or movies, but there’s still some very interesting content on there.
There are a few other locations worth mentioning, although the first two are mostly curated lists that point to content on YouTube or the Internet Movie Archive. First there’s Top Documentary Films, which lists documentaries in various categories and ready to stream for free. Then there’s the Open Culture free online movies list which will direct you to some really interesting classics and short works by famous filmmakers. If you like anime and Asian shows check out Crunchyroll.
Free TV Network Websites
A lot of the big networks also offer free TV show episodes to stream online. There may be limitations in certain regions and you may need to be registered with a particular TV provider or cable service in order to gain access. But there are a few that seem to be completely free:
- ABC Family: TV show episodes a day after they air
- CBS: Free TV show episodes of recent series and classics
- CW TV: Full recently aired episodes of TV shows
- Fox: A range of full episodes of recent shows
- History Channel: Some episodes of selected shows, mostly clips and recaps
- Lifetime: TV series and movies from the network
- NBC: Full episodes of current TV shows
- PBS: Free episodes of recently aired TV shows
If you have an eligible TV provider or relevant cable service, then you can also stream content from ABC, Disney, ESPN, MTV, Nickelodeon, TBS, TLC, TNT, and USA Now.
Worth Paying For
If you do decide that you can afford a monthly subscription service then we recommend Netflix, currently $8.99 per month, as the best bang for your buck in terms of TV shows and movies. You may also consider an Amazon Prime account at $99 for the year, as it offers access to a wide range of streaming TV shows and movies, as well as other benefits.