Streaming video is still a relatively young technology, but most of us can no longer imagine sticking a disc into a DVD player. Yes, some of us still enjoy our Redbox rentals, and Blu-ray still offers some of the best imaging available.
Gone are the days of driving to Blockbuster, paying late fees, or digging out our membership cards. Streaming video has largely erased that way of life, although there is one last Blockbuster store standing.
Even the big streaming services no longer hold a monopoly. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime still dominate as top sources of streaming content, but more and more major companies are getting into the streaming business.
This year alone, those options will expand to AT&T, Warner Media, and IMDB streaming services. Disney+ will soon transmit the entire Mickey Mouse, Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars universe to your screen. AppleTV+ will release never-before-seen original TV series.
But that’s not why you’re here, reading my column. You’re looking for free content that you can stream on demand. Here are five streaming services that we’ve been, well, watching.
1. Sony Crackle
Sony Crackle is owned by Sony, of course, so it hosts a lot of Sony original content, plus programs and movies from other companies.
- It's a free service to watch some of your favorite TV shows, original programming, and movies.
- It breaks down the content into multiple categories such as spotlights, originals, action, drama, comedy, fandom, thriller, icons, anime, trending and a plethora of other categories.
- Crackle can be connected to a large variety of platforms such as TVs, mobile device, set-top boxes, gaming consoles and online.
- The service is ad-supported to allow it to continue to be free and offers no offline viewing options.
Tubi streams more than 12,000 titles, including movies and TV shows. Affiliated studios include Paramount, Lionsgate, MGM and more.
- Includes thousands of movies and TV show options for free.
- Stream anywhere on smartphones, Android, iOS, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Xfinity X1, Xbox, Samsung Smart TVs, Sony Smart TVs, PlayStation and the web.
- Includes content from many sources for kids of all ages and content that's not streamed anywhere else.
- Tubi is supported by advertisements during shows.
- Highlights sections called “Not on Netflix,” “Leaving Soon!” and for those Rotten Tomatoes fans a “Highly Rated on Rotten Tomatoes” section.
YouTube began as a platform for people to upload and display their own videos. That feature remains, but the site now offers videos and some live TV from major partners like CBS, BBC, and others.
- This is a mixture as some films are free if you can find them, while others are at a premium.
- Video quality can vary based on the program. Meaning you could see 480p, 720p, or 1080p resolutions.
- Unfortunately, there is no way to filter the content by genre or free versus paid, so it can be challenging to find what you're looking for.
- When searching and finding what you are looking for, your best bet is looking for content with high view counts and subscriptions to the content.
Shameless plug. You can watch my television show on YouTube. Here’s a link to the latest episode.
4. Pluto TV
Pluto TV is owned by Viacom and runs more than 100 free channels, from old TV shows to movies to a (limited) selection of sports.
- Runs on Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku and PlayStation.
- Channels include CBS News, Food TV, NBC, Bloomberg TV (which airs The Kim Komando TV Show), Crime Network and more.
- Apps are available for Apple and Android devices.
- Shows include ads.
Vudu delivers full-length movies and TV for free but offers more content in subscriptions.
- Free programs are thoughtfully labeled with the text in a subtle red highlight if they're free and with ads.
- The profiles provided on a particular film gives you a breakdown of the description of the media, MPAA score, Rotten Tomatoes (RT) scoring, if it has closed captions, length of the content, a trailer, cast and crew information and full RT Reviews.
- Content available for free with ads can also be rented and bought digitally.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer.
Copyright 2019, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.
Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.