Streaming TV services can be broadly split into two categories: free and paid. Everyone likes free stuff, but paid options obviously offer more (and newer) content. In this article, we list the best free streaming TV apps and the best paid streaming TV apps.
The Best Free Streaming TV Services
Let’s begin with the best free streaming TV services…
Owned and operated by Chicken Soup for the Soul, Crackle has been one of the best free tv apps for cord-cutters since its launch back in 2007. The company has content partnerships with several leading film and TV studios, including Universal Studios, Disney, MGM, and Warner Bros.
In more recent years, Crackle has also started to invest in original shows. Some of the best TV shows to watch on Crackle include The Oath, Sports Jeopardy, and StartUp.
Crackle is available in the United States and its territories, and it has not been available in the UK since 2014, though you can always use a VPN like ExpressVPN or CyberGhost to bypass the geo-blocking.
2. Tubi TV
Tubi TV is a free alternative to Netflix, and it has a library of more than 12,000 TV shows and movies for you to dig into. The company has partnerships in place with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, Warner Bros., and NBCUniversal.
Despite the partnerships, we don’t feel the quality of the content is as high as that found on Crackle. There are some gems, but there are a fair number of sub-par shows that you’d never really want to watch.
Just like other options on this list, the Tubi TV streaming service is ad-supported.
3. Pluto TV
Rather than offering on-demand video, Pluto TV is a live TV streaming service. Again, it’s free to use. Although the service has been around since 2013, it’s currently receiving considerable investment thanks to a January 2019 buyout by Viacom—now called Paramount—for $380 million.
Some of the channels you can expect to find include NBC News, CNN, Bloomberg, FOX Sports, Eleven Sports, and an adapted version of MTV.
There are also 24/7 channels devoted to series such as Doctor Who, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, and many more. You’ll even find Paramount, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon content on Pluto’s own in-house streaming TV channels. For sports fans, there’s a dedicated MLS channel.
The Roku Channel is an on-demand TV streaming app. Since its launch in October 2017, it has rapidly risen to become one of the best free TV streaming services available.
It features TV series and movies from Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Warner Bros., and Sony Pictures Entertainment. There is also content from streaming TV providers who already have apps in the Roku Channel Store (such as American Classics, FilmRise, OVGuide, and Popcornflix).
The Roku Channel is only available to people in the United States, the UK, and Canada, and the service is ad-supported.
Freevee (formerly known as IMDb TV) has been growing in popularity since its launch in January 2019. Amazon rebranded IMDb TV to Freevee in April 2022.
Freevee has deals in place with Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Entertainment, and MGM Studios. You can be sure there will always be something on the platform worth watching. Before, you could only use this platform on Amazon’s own Fire Stick. Now, however, you can find the app on mobile and web browsers, including browsers on Android TV to watch any show or movie you want.
6. Sling TV
Did you even know that Sling TV offered free movies and TV shows to anyone inside the US?
Of course, the app is most well-known for its live TV subscriptions; it is a rival for Fubo and Hulu + Live TV. But in 2019, a free version of the app was launched. Unfortunately, it only offers on-demand shows. So while you can’t use it to watch live TV, there’s a surprisingly decent selection of content.
The Best Paid Streaming TV Services
While those free options are good, there are also streaming TV services available to those willing to fork out for a subscription.
Here are the best TV streaming apps that you need to pay for…
Netflix remains the gold standard for paid streaming TV services despite the increasing competition. It invests billions of dollars in producing its own original content while also offering hundreds of your favorite TV shows and movies from other creators and studios.
The company has expanded to be available in more than 190 different countries. The only major exception is China, though it’s also unavailable in locales where US businesses are banned from operating (such as Syria and North Korea).
The available content differs between locations, but Netflix’s original shows and movies are available everywhere.
In the US, a Basic plan (one screen and no HD) costs $9.99/month, a Standard plan (two screens) costs $15.49/month, and a Premium plan (four screens and Ultra HD) costs $19.99/month.
Hulu offers several different streaming packages you can choose from, starting at $6.99/month and going all the way up to 75.99/month.
Disney owns the company, so some Disney shows and films are available in the on-demand catalog. However, you will also discover numerous Hulu originals and plenty of non-Disney content. Plus, Disney offers a bundle that includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for a lower monthly price.
Hulu + Live TV comes with more than 65 channels as standard. You’ll get access to major networks like NBC and CBS, sports content from ESPN and FOX, and other mainstream channels such as CNN, National Geographic, History Channel, and Cartoon Network. You can buy add-ons for more sports and foreign-language content. The service is only available in the US.
Amazon Prime Video is one of Netflix’s greatest rivals. Like Netflix, Amazon invests heavily in its own original content while simultaneously providing a vast library of content from other networks and studios. Much of the streaming service’s original content has been met with critical acclaim.
The app has a similarly large worldwide reach as Netflix; the only countries where it is unavailable are the usual suspects, such as Cuba, China, and Iran.
In order to use Amazon Prime Video, you have to be an Amazon Prime member; there is no way to open a standalone account. The benefits and the cost of Amazon Prime vary from country to country. In the US, a Prime subscription costs $12.99/month.
4. HBO Max
Because of its name, you might think the service is HBO-centric. Sure, you get access to much of the company’s huge catalog of content, but you’ll also find a lot of non-HBO TV shows or movies. You’ll also find a lot of critically-acclaimed films and classic TV shows, and sitcoms.
There are two plans available in the US. An ad-supported plan for $9.99/month and an ad-free plan for 14.99/month.
Peacock is the name of NBCUniversal’s streaming app. It launched to much fanfare in April 2020 and quickly became the second-fastest-growing brand in the US during the year.
Three subscription plans are available. The ad-supported free plan provides access to thousands of hours of content but does not give access to the most popular shows on the platform.
The two premium plans ($4.99/month and $9.99/month) will let you access the full library of content, but the cheaper of the two is ad-supported.
Peacock is available in the US, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Italy.
6. YouTube TV
YouTube TV offers live TV and on-demand shows from more than 85 networks in the US. The service’s wide selection of content partners means it can satisfy all tastes. Movie lovers will find the latest Hollywood hits, while sports fans can tune into the World Series and NBA finals.
The service also has excellent DVR features (included in the base price, unlike many of its competitors), a selection of add-on packages for you to customize the content you can watch, and a competitive price ($64.99/month).
On the downside, it has been criticized for less-than-robust parental controls, so families with young children might want to give it a miss. It is also only available in the US, so international viewers will have to look elsewhere.
7. fubo TV
You might be a total fubo TV beginner, but this paid streaming service is perfect for sports lovers in the US. If you love sports, fubo TV is the best TV streaming service around. It starts at $64.99/month but provides access to a wide range of live competitions, including the English Premier League, NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, and more.
One of the big selling points of fubo TV is its add-on packages. They include premium channels such as SHOWTIME, STARZ, EPIX, niche packages for extra sport, foreign-language shows, news, and add-ons for specific sports channels like NFL RedZone and NBA TV.
Learn More About Watching TV Online
The apps we’ve discussed above are the best TV streaming services available today.
If you’re still not satisfied and would like to learn about even more options, check out niche services like MUBI and IndieFlix that cater to fans of independent cinema.
Source: Make Use Of