Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Kourtnee covers TV streaming services and home entertainment news and reviews at CNET. She previously worked as an entertainment reporter at Showbiz Cheat Sheet where she wrote about film, television, music, celebrities, and streaming platforms.
ExpertiseKourtnee is a longtime cord-cutter who's subscribed to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Crunchyroll, Sling, Spotify and more. As a real-life user of these services, she tracks the latest developments in streaming, the newest reCredentials
Though Kourtnee hasn't won any journalism awards yet, she's been a Netflix streaming subscriber since 2012 and knows the magic of its hidden codes.
Think about your preferences for movies. If you love classics or blockbuster films certain platforms will offer more of what you want. Services like Vudu and Tubi have huge libraries, but you'll want to browse for newer releases, genres or kid-friendly titles.
Not every free streaming service has ads in their programming, and some have shorter ad loads than others. Decide whether you can tolerate commercials at all, and if not, aim for a paid subscription service or a platform like Hoopla.
You want to stream movies on an app that's easy to use on any of your devices with simple search and playback functions. Ideally, it should be easy to browse by genre or title, download, adjust parental settings or to create watch lists if the service offers it.
If you remove Netflix, Prime Video and Disney Plus, you're still left with what seems like an endless supply of streaming services. Yes, it's become more convenient than ever to watch movies, but thanks to the sheer amount of choice, it's also become strangely complicated. Finding out where movies are streaming is one headache, while the mounting number of monthly subscriptions is another -- and don't forget the dent in your wallet it creates. It can be a real pain in the neck.
Thankfully, there are still plenty of services out there that can help keep you entertained without spending a dime. We've pegged Tubi as the best option, but you should check out all nine services that offer totally free, totally legal movies you can watch on smart TVs, media streamers and mobile devices. Some offer TV shows as well. Just be ready to sit through some commercials while streaming movies, because that's how most of these services pay the bills. And don't expect the option to download free movies for offline viewing. At present, only Hoopla allows you to do that.
Note: Because selections change regularly, not all the titles listed here may still be available, but we'll try to keep it up to date.
Home to thousands of free feature films, indie movies and originals, Tubi TV's streaming platform offers content from major studios including Lionsgate, Warner Bros. and Paramount. Among the titles you'll see right now are Birds of Prey, Friday, Die Hard and Inglourious Basterds.
The service lets you know which movies are leaving, newly added or are up-to-date releases. To help separate the wheat from the chaff, browse all the genres or check out categories like Highly Rated on Rotten Tomatoes or Trending Now. Tubi also has some live channels that air movies, but the slate is fairly light and you must navigate to the "Entertainment" tab in the live guide to find it.
Freevee is part Amazon's streaming business, which also includes Prime Video. Formerly known as IMDb TV, the ad-supported platform offers a strong catalog of on-demand movies and 24/7 live channels for film lovers for just about any genre. You can watch titles such as The Hitman's Bodyguard, Crazy Rich Asians, Old or Paddington 2, and viewers can also check out its lineup of originals like Puppy Love or Hotel for the Holidays. The service isn't limited to movies either; there are TV episodes available as well.
You don't need a Prime membership to access Freevee, and you can watch content via Prime Video, web browser or on the standalone Freevee app. It's available on most devices, including smart TVs, streaming devices, PCs, phones, game consoles and tablets. Freevee is accessible for viewers in the US, UK and Germany.
Best for streaming feature films and animation on the go
While you can rent or buy movies on YouTube, you can also watch an array of titles for free if you don't mind ads. The platform has a dedicated YouTube Movies & TV channel/storefront section where you can browse free shows and films. Currently, the lineup includes titles such as The Fifth Element, All Dogs Go to Heaven, Concussion, World War Z and Donnie Darko.
You can scroll through its genre rows, including documentaries, animated movies or crime thrillers. You'll need to log in to stream mature content, but anything rated PG-13 or under is accessible without needing to sign in to your account.
Pluto began life as a live streaming service that offered multiple "channels" of content. Although the Paramount-owned brand has expanded its live TV reach with a growing number of news, entertainment and sports channels, it's also home to plenty of on-demand free movies.
Right now, you can watch four Indiana Jones films, titles such as Mean Girls, Knives Out and Rush Hour, the Saw franchise, and more. The selection for kids is limited, however. Additionally, Pluto's watch list feature is available without an account.
Crackle is an ad-supported streaming service, one that offers both movies and TV shows -- including some original content and web series. It's available on a wide variety of devices and doesn't require you to set up an account to watch free movies online, though doing so enables you to save favorites, adjust parental controls, get recommendations and resume playback if you switch between devices.
If you love B-movies, you'll have a field day on Crackle, but you'll find content in just about every genre and era, including titles featuring some of your favorite Hollywood actors. Look out for movies starring Tom Hiddleston, Kirsten Dunst, Jet Li, Ray Liotta and even Beyoncé.
Vudu has been consistently expanding its free, ad-supported section, which lets you choose from a generous selection of Hollywood movies (mostly older titles, alas) to watch at no charge. To watch free movies online, you'll need a Vudu account, but it's free to set one up. Word of advice: Use parental controls -- you're going to need them if you have kids.
Got a library card? Check to see if your library has partnered with Hoopla. This digital-media service allows you to check out all kinds of stuff -- including movies. When you "borrow" one, you have 72 hours in which to watch it. Your library determines the total number of movies you can borrow each month.
Surprisingly, Hoopla's mobile apps offer not only streaming but also a download option for offline viewing. You can explore its recommendation rows or search by genre, title or collection. There are mainstream titles such as My Cousin Vinny, Eagle Eye, The Imitation Game, The Joy Luck Club and Disney's Anastasia. Collections from MGM, Lifetime, Hallmark and other brands are also available.
Best if you love A24, foreign flicks, documentaries, quality movies
If your library doesn't offer Hoopla, maybe it has Kanopy? This commercial-free (yay!) service, which began life in Australia, has made its way to thousands of college campuses worldwide and various US libraries. Check the website to see if your library has it -- and ask for it if it doesn't.
Kanopy offers some mainstream stuff but also a large selection of indie films and documentaries from the likes of PBS and The Great Courses. Its library also houses titles from the esteemed A24, including Everything Everywhere All at Once, Hereditary and Pearl. There's also a Kanopy Kids section with loads of family-friendly content. Other notable titles on the app include Moonlight, The Big Short and The Secret of Kells.
The Roku Channel isn't exclusively a free movie provider but also an aggregator of new and existing no-cost content. Thus, don't be surprised if there's some overlap with some of the free movies available on other services. You'll find movies from Roku partners such as Lionsgate, MGM, Sony and Warner, along with Roku originals and free content from existing Roku channels such as FilmRise and Popcornflix.
Needless to say, the channel is available on Roku TVs and devices, but it's accessible on desktop web browsers, on Amazon Fire TV streamers and in app form as well.
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Factors to consider
Parental controls: Some services don't provide the ability to change age ratings or block certain content for kids. Look for this feature if you want to control access to mature content.
Library: The biggest question to ask is whether there is anything you want to watch on the service. Do you prefer well-known feature films, obscure releases, classics or campy low-quality titles? If you have kids, you'll want platforms with enough free movies to keep everyone entertained.
Finding content: Is the interface user-friendly? It should be fairly easy to search for what you want, including titles, genres or designated "free movies" if applicable.
How we chose these services
You may already be familiar with several major free streaming services that provide TV and movies on-demand, including a few FAST TV options. While there are multiple platforms out there on which you can stream movies live or on-demand for free, we kept several factors in mind for this list. We looked at catalog offerings, whether the service is easy to find/install, app design (i.e. ease of use across different TV and mobile platforms) and features (like search, mobile downloads, watch lists and parental controls).
Free movie streaming FAQs
Do I have to watch ads?
Yes, for the most part. The trade-off for streaming free content is that you have to tolerate commercials. Whether you're watching a live channel or on-demand video, most of these services will run ads during your viewing experience. The only exceptions on this list are Kanopy and Hoopla.
What about free apps for networks like ABC, PBS, CW and others?
These may also be options. You can stream a small amount of movies from your favorite networks on their dedicated apps, but we opted not to include them on this list as some (like ABC) require you to be registered with a cable/TV provider to watch. We'll note that The CW has a limited slate of feature films available on its app such as Looper, Men in Black and Shrek the Halls.
What if I like the live TV experience?
You can still stream free movies on a services like Pluto or Tubi via their live channel offerings. Keep in mind that titles are pre-programmed, so you will have to wait until a specified broadcast time to watch a movie that you want like traditional TV.