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Canceling Netflix or Peloton? Try One of These Free Alternatives

Try this alternative subscriptions for free to help alleviate stress on your monthly budget.

With the cost of living going up everywhere, groceries, fuel and rent have become less affordable, and people are looking at their monthly spending to see where they can make cuts. The streaming and subscription landscape keeps changing as well, bringing price fluctuations and new options. It's a good idea to audit your subscriptions every once in a while to see what you could trim from the budget without missing it. 

A lot of Netflix subscribers seem to have made the choice to ditch the streamer recently. Netflix reported a loss of about 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022, its first loss in a decade. And Peloton announced in mid-April it's raising subscription prices (while lowering the up-front cost of buying a bike).

Even if you're just trying to save some cash (or beat inflation), many of the most popular services you might be paying monthly fees for -- including Netflix, Hulu, Apple Music, Grubhub and DoorDash -- can be swapped for free alternatives. You might not end up with the exact same product, but you can often get pretty darn close. And it might be worth trying if it allows you to stretch your budget further.

Unlike their paid counterparts, many of these free services operate with ads and the streaming services won't let you download content to watch or listen to them offline. But some have deals and decent free trials that you can take advantage of now.

Here's how to replace many of the services you pay for with the best free subscription services we've found. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Replaces: Hulu

Peacock, NBCUniversal's streaming service that debuted in spring 2020, offers a free, ad-supported tier with about 80,000 hours of content, including TV shows, movies, and some live news and sports. Standouts include Parks and Recreation, The Office, House and the Die Hard franchise. You'll also get episodes of current NBC shows like La Brea the week after they air. You can also find Yellowstone free on Peacock.

You can sign up for the free version of Peacock without a credit card. You'll need to upgrade to premium (which costs $5 a month with ads, or $10 a month without ads) to watch full seasons of new original series, like The Real Housewives of Miami and Premier League soccer highlights. You won't find a ton of brand-new movies, either. But the free tier is a great way to discover shows and films you might have missed the first time around, or want to watch again. 

Watch Peacock on Apple devices like the iPhone and Apple TV, Roku devices, Amazon Fire TV devices, Google devices like Android phones and Chromecast, Xbox and PlayStation consoles, Vizio SmartCast TVs and LG Smart TVs.

Crackle

Replaces: Netflix

Crackle is an ad-supported streaming service that offers movies and some TV shows, including original content. You can find a variety of flicks old and new including Train to Busan, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Melancholia, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, RBG, The Guilty, and Battle: Los Angeles. In terms of TV, you'll find more than 100 different shows, including a lot of classics such as Highway to Heaven, 3rd Rock From the Sun, and Benson. But not every series has all seasons available.

You can stream on Crackle without signing up for an account, and can watch on virtually any device, with apps for all mobile platforms, game consoles and any major streaming device. If you do create an account, you can save favorites, get recommendations and resume playback if you switch between devices.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Replaces: Hulu Plus Live TV (or your whole cable subscription)

One big caveat here: Much of the programming on Pluto isn't the same live TV channels you'll find on pay cable or satellite, even if the channels have the same names. So, while news junkies will find live programming from CBSN, NBC News Now and Bloomberg TV, Pluto's versions of MTV, AMC and CNN are time-shifted or alternate programming from those providers. 

Ultimately, none of that matters, because you're still getting a wealth of streaming video that's truly free (it's ad-supported, of course). And because there are literally dozens of in-progress streams to toggle through in real-time, Pluto offers the best analog to flipping through the myriad channels on a traditional cable system (or paid streaming alternative, like Hulu). You can also browse channels by categories like news, sports, comedy and movies, and find on-demand TV content, though it's mostly crime and reality shows. 

Pluto works on desktop browsers, through a Windows client, or through apps for Android, iOS and different smart TVs and channels for Apple TV, Fire TV and Roku. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Replaces: Apple Music

Spotify tops CNET's list of the best music streaming services thanks to its easy-to-use interface, extensive catalog and device compatibility. (However, if the Joe Rogan versus Neil Young saga left a bad taste in your mouth, we've got some alternative recommendations.) Plus, you can listen to its full music catalog for free, with ads. If you do want to upgrade, you can choose between four different premium plans (including a student deal for $5) for yourself or to split with others. 

If it's your first time subscribing to Spotify Premium, you'll get a month's free trial.

Getty/svetikd

Just call the restaurant

Best for ordering food

Replaces: DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates and Uber Eats

I know, it's not exactly a service. But third-party delivery apps such as Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats often charge big delivery and service fees that add to your bill -- not to mention the high fees that they charge local restaurants and the tip you need to pay the driver. The best option when you're trying to save money and support local restaurants is to call the restaurant directly to pick up your food or see if it has an in-house delivery service. Lots of restaurants now offer curbside pickup, delivery and other options for staying safe and healthy.

Nike Training Club

Replaces: Your gym, or Peloton

Nike Training Club is a free app for iOS and Android with a variety of home workouts and programs to help you set a workout schedule. You can filter workouts based on what equipment you have at home, and find bodyweight-only exercises, yoga and training programs.

MasterClass

Replaces: Online classes

MasterClass offers thousands of online lessons taught by veritable masters in their fields -- we're talking Gordon Ramsey on cooking, Ken Burns on documentary making and Helen Mirren on acting. While an annual membership costs $180, you can find a series of free courses called MasterClass Live available now. These include a session on building suspenseful thrillers with Dan Brown, the importance of science with Neil deGrasse Tyson and beauty tips from industry mogul Bobbi Brown.

More money-saving tips