Cable TV Too Expensive? Try These Free TV Options

Category: Television

I’ve written before about various options for watching TV shows and movies via online streaming services. The good news today is that while Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Youtube are constantly raising prices for their services, a bunch of free options are popping up. Read on to learn how you can get local television channels, movies and popular shows without a subscription or monthly fees...

Check Out Free Streaming TV Services

You’ve probably heard about “cord cutting” as a way to save money on your entertainment costs. Cord-cutters are folks who cancel their cable TV service, and use online streaming services to access their favorite shows, movies, news and sports. Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Sling, YouTube TV, ESPN Plus and Peacock are some of the most popular streaming services, each with their own lineup of shows, movies, news and sports offerings. But it’s not always easy to find the right combination of providers to match up with your TV wishlist, and still save a few dollars a month.

Taking into account the recent price hikes by the dominant players in the streaming arena, you may wonder if it would be cheaper to stick with your cable TV provider. But there is good news... there are some streaming services that won’t cost you a dime. Check out these options, and see if they offer up the mix of viewing content that you and your family require.

In the past, I've written about Locast, a service offering free over-the-air local TV channels via the Internet. Unfortunately, they were sued by cable TV operators, and forced to shut down that service. But there are other options for free entertainment.

Free Streaming TV options

I've also highlighted Kanopy, a streaming video service that comes to you from local public libraries. Kanopy doesn’t offer millions of movies like Netflix; instead they focus on the classics. Forbes magazine called Kanopy, “One of the most unique and compelling film collections in the world.” See my article Bored With Netflix? Your Library Has Free Movies Too for details on how to access Kanopy via your library card.

If you use a Roku device to stream to your television, there are quite a few free channels that may satisfy your content craving. The Roku Channel offers Hollywood hits, classic TV shows, and live news. Check out these Roku Models for Cord Cutters, starting at $29.99 on Amazon.

Hoopla is another streaming service offered via local public libaries, and it’s more than just movies. They also provide “hundreds of thousands” of TV shows, music, audiobooks, and ebooks. Use your browser, tablet, or phone via instant streaming, or downloaded titles for offline consumption.

Pluto promises free access to 250 channels and thousands of movies, TV shows, breaking news, live sports and more. It’s available on Amazon FireTV, Android or iPhone, Chromecast, Playstation and Roku.

The CW, another popular network, offers a lineup of their shows on CW Network. You can watch the live feed, or pick from a selection of dramas, comedy, action, mystery and thrillters.

Crackle is a free entertainment network featuring full-length movies, TV shows, and original programming. It is available on a wide variety of platforms including the Crackle website, smart TVs, mobile devices, set-top boxes, and video game consoles.

Vudu is another free streaming service that offers over 10,000 free movies and TV episodes. They tend not to be the latest and greatest, but they are free. Vudu is owned by Walmart and also offers a premium tier.

Tubi lets you watch movies and TV shows for free, via the Web, iPhone, Android, Roku, or Amazon Fire devices. Tubi is ad-supported and provides content from studios like Paramount, Lionsgate, MGM and about 200 others.

If you subscribe to Amazon Prime, there are lots of movies you can watch for free on Amazon Video. Amazon also produces quite a few original and highly-rated TV series.

FreeVee (previously called IMDb TV) is another Amazon-owned service, offering thousands of movies, TV shows and original content. You can watch FreeVee on your Android or Apple mobile device, or via your favorite streaming device (Roku, Fire stick, Apple TV).

Have you tried any of these free streaming TV services? Do they offer everything you want on the big (or small) screens in your home? Post your comment or question below…

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Most recent comments on "Cable TV Too Expensive? Try These Free TV Options"

(See all 23 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

24 Apr 2023

The ONLY reason I've stuck with cable is for the local stations..specifically local news (metro DC area). If I could find a streaming service that provides local news, I'd finally make that jump.

Posted by:

Cold City
24 Apr 2023

Anything for Canadians? The free sites all say not for your region.
I though Canada and the US were the best of friends…
May be VPN?

Posted by:

24 Apr 2023

We use HOOPLA from our County Library. Each member of our family has a library card and each can view several shows a month.
Check if your state allows you to join any County Library ... that would exponentially raise the number of shows available to you each month.
Yes, they are mostly old shows, but we find them so much better than most of the new shows available these days.
We also alternate between 2 streaming services that are $7.99 per month, sometimes even pausing them both for a while.
Together with our mouse pad shaped indoor antenna that picks up all 4 broadcasters plus their multiple add-ons, and multiple PBS channels there is plenty to watch.
You can even watch some of the cable news channels on ROKU (but not live) as was mentioned.

Posted by:

24 Apr 2023

I live about 70 miles away from Los Angeles, but because of the location of most LA TV stations transmitters, on a mountain about 6000 feet above sea level, I could watch local TV at no cost. And I have an excellent internet subscription (a stable 350 Mbps), and I do have access through ROKU to many streaming services, including the Free Kanopy, but I also subscribe to cable ... and yes, it is expensive. Why? Because I love Baseball and Ice Hockey andm to me, Baseball means the Angels and Ice Hockey means the Anaheim Ducks. Neither team is on "local" TV, Neither Team can be seen "live" for all games on a streaming service ... I guess I could watch the Angels on the MLB steam, but all games are delayed for my Zip Code ... and I assume the same situation would occur with the NHL steam for the Ducks, too. The only place I can watch these two teams live is with a Cable Channel, Bally Sports (though that might be changing soon as it appears that Bally may soon be out of business because of bankruptcy ... MLB promises to replace them, at least temporarily if that happens, and I'd assume the NHL would do the same, but I'd guess that would mean another subscription to pay). So what's a guy to do? If a cable channel is the only place to get what you want to watch, cable cannot be cut.

Posted by:

24 Apr 2023

A good portion of your cable TV bill is going to pay fees to the various program providers such as Fox Corp.,ESPN and its various channels,Disney and others.You still have to pay for them if you watch or do not watch them.

Now that the streaming option is here and you have many,you can probably drop your cable TV service with no issues.Make sure you know what is being dropped so there are no surprises.

Posted by:

24 Apr 2023

FreeVee is ad-based. For me, I have gotten so used to no ads and no on-screen stuff (logos and hashtags and text promoting whatever) on my netflix streams (and DVDs) that I even get annoyed by amazon trying to jam an ad down our throats when I start to watch (granted, there is the skip button, but why do I have to have my hand poised to click it?). So, for me, granted, no sports are desired, my netflix, amazon prime (the real one), and as of recently, paramount+ courtesy of either walmart's or amex's promotion are the only things I watch.
I suspect the hulus and other platforms, even if they are ad-free, might slap their logos on the screen during the content. Well, then, for me, they are a no-go. It is bad enough the CBSs and NBCs of the world do it, but I am not going to pay to have logos on the screen while I am watching a movie or tv show.
As for ads, right now, I watch stuff via my computer, and the whole computer experience is not set up for 4-minute commercial breaks.

Posted by:

24 Apr 2023

Re: COLD CITY above-
Yes, Canadian offerings are far below par,even similar named services are only a shadow of their American counterparts. I have tried Pluto in Canada and it is quite disappointing, but you might try it anyway. Also, I believe that CBC Gem is available WithOUT a TV subscription service, but not 100% sure. Perhaps others can suggest more. Another alternative MIGHT be a VPN to access American content through a server in the USA. But, be warned, that many services use a Distributed Content provider like Cloudflare that blocks the IP addresses of VPNs. My experience indicates that this is becoming increasing more pervasive.

Posted by:

24 Apr 2023

I've tried some of the free services but of course one also gets a bunch of commercials with them and edited movies to make them fit to time slots.

Amazon prime has a ton of free unedited movies with no commercials.

I tried a free trial of Showtime but few of the movies or offerings interested me in that I'm not watching woke, PC or some mutant gender related mind rot. Movies with far far left actors in the main role also don't interest me.

COX cable TV access got waaaaay too expensive and as a single old Marine on social security I must budget.

I ended up with the Basic Blue Sling offering at $40 a month, and add the Orange pkg during football season. Worth a look.

Posted by:

bernice freedman
24 Apr 2023

i am visually impaired and need help with tech i can use - computer ipad monitor my current computer is lenovo 17 inch. please advise me as what i could use

Posted by:

24 Apr 2023

Another free movie platform is youtube there are ads but you can hit the button to skip the 2nd or 3rd ad.
You do need to dig around to find something to your liking, in the search box you need to type that you want free movies and then add text on the topic desired.

Posted by:

24 Apr 2023

@bernice - if you have the desk space, you might investigate a 32" (or bigger) TV (NOT a computer monitor) to use as your monitor. I have a 32" TV as my main desktop screen, plus a 21" regular computer monitor on the side. TVs are quite inexpensive compared to monitors, and often go on deep sale as back-to-school or "big football game" specials. Just make sure both your computer and your TV have suitable HDMI connections.
My vision isn't great, but even after having cataracts removed from both eyes last week, I can still make out text on the big TV while I wait for new glasses.

Posted by:

24 Apr 2023

Thanks Bob for this great information! We dropped cable 10 years ago. Kanopy and Hoopla -both ad free - on multiple library cards, along with PBS give us more great films, TV shows and series than we can get to. We love that they include Indie and world cinema and TV, and their monthly newsletters for their newest additions. Kanopy also offers impressive collection of documentaries and courses in photography, crafts, cooking, the Great Courses, science, business, history.languages, etc. Life is good!

Posted by:

24 Apr 2023

I've gotten spoiled over the years. Won't watch anything with ads and most "free" streaming services have them and you can't fast forward through them. The very few network shows I enjoy are available the next day on Paramount+ (CBS), Hulu (ABC) and Peacock (NBC), get Peacock free through my cable which I do still maintain because there are things there I can't get elsewhere. The convenience of being able to watch what I want, when I want, and repeatedly if I want is useful to me. I grew up with three channels and if you missed a show your only option was catch it in reruns over the summer. Those days are gone, thankfully. I'm retired, so keep a different schedule from most and like what I'm able to do now. I have tried the ad supported free services and cancelled them all when the ads showed up. Virtually anything they offer one can find free somewhere with an internet search.

My daughter in law switched to YouTube tv and is happy with it, I'm not going that route, but there are options for just about everyone. Though I do freely admit the constant price increases for streaming services with no appreciable improvement in content or service is annoying.

Posted by:

24 Apr 2023

If you are only hanging onto cable service for local news, there are some streaming options.

If you have an Amazon Firestick, the News app has a list of cities around the country that you can pick stations from. Pluto TV also carries some local news broadcasts.

Posted by:

24 Apr 2023

I'm a senior Citizen (in my 70s). I grew up with 'OTA' TV (we just called it 'TV' then). After marrying, while raising a family, we got cable TV from a local provider (a bundle of TV, phone, and Internet). When the cost of that service went above $225.00/month, we dumped it for Direct TV, ATT-50 Internet, and phone (bundled). After my wife passed away, I dropped the Direct TV bundle, and became a 'cord cutter' (I replaced the home phone service with a MagicJack, switched the ATT Internet to Fiber 300 - now Fiber500, a free upgrade from ATT, and got a Roku box for each of my four TVs).

With the ATT Fiber 500 Wi-Fi-6 Internet, my adult son and I can watch whatever we want whenever we want, and still have enough bandwidth left for our PCs. A few years ago, the TV in my bedroom died, so I got a Samsung Smart TV that was on discount at BestBuy (I think it was a soon to be discontinued model). My Samsung TV has a feature called Samsung Plus. If I connect it to the Internet (via Wi-Fi), I can watch a bundle of streaming add-supported TV channels for 'free'. The TV provides a guide to facilitate switching/selecting OTA channels, and the Samsung Plus channels are integrated into the guide starting at channel 1000. I have installed apps for the streaming services I subscribe to (see below). For my Samsung TV, I have a GE indoor (bar-type) TV antenna that comes with the heaviest signal amplifier I have ever seen. The antenna seems to do a very good job receiving my local TV stations and their sub-stations, although, this year, my reception is frequently disrupted by the peaking solar activity we are all experiencing. If the solar activity continues as it has, I may consider getting an outdoor/roof-top omni-directional antenna to see if it helps to mitigate the disruptions, despite the fact that outdoor antennas start at about $40.00 going up to over $150.00, while indoor antennas typically range from less than $20.00 to less than $100.00.

I subscribe to Netflix, Paramount+, Disney+, and now I have Amazon Prime, so I can watch a variety of movies and TV shows in addition to what I get over the air and on my Roku devices. My son doesn't watch Disney+, and I haven't watched it much in the past few months, so I may drop it for a while to see if I miss it.

For me, the best thing about cutting the cord (other than reducing home entertainment costs) is that I can pick and choose the streaming services I subscribe to, adding one or another when I see offerings I want, or dropping a service if I lose interest in what it offers.

We all have our entertainment preferences, so what works for me may differ from what works for you. If you use Cable TV, consider what you pay for what you get, then ask yourself "Is it worth it?" If so, great! If not, do your research - a LOT of research - and consider cutting the cord.

Note: I've been seeing commercials for Sling TV. I'm not impressed. I had Sling for a while, and I liked it, but the cost started going up most every month, so I dropped it, and never looked back. YMMV, but don't be taken in by advertising gimmicks. Do your research, and think for yourself,



Posted by:

25 Apr 2023

I use Ontvtonight web site. FREE TV sites in your zip code, I have 36 stations in my zip code. The only web sites I miss is sport channels, but they are also the highest tier channels [Dollars} on cable ,satellite. Click on Antenna TV stations.

Posted by:

Mark G.
25 Apr 2023

We have a (promotional) account for Paramount+ (through WalMart's Prime competitor), and I found the ad breaks so long and frequent and irritating that I stopped watching (which was too bad; they had some shows I enjoyed).
OTOH, we've watched Peacock, and we find the ad breaks not bad at all - usually one minute (and the timer is on the screen, so you can manage your kitchen/bathroom breaks around them).
Most of the others we've used (FreeVee, Hulu) are somewhere in between. But still beats a lot of the OTA stuff.

Posted by:

Thomas Joyner
26 Apr 2023

How do cord cutters get internet service? If one cuts the cord, that eliminates cable or landline access. Satellite and cell internet service is both expensive and slow, plus is usually data capped. So how do streaming devices get internet service?

Posted by:

26 Apr 2023


The term 'Cord Cutting' refers to dropping Cable TV service, not cutting the Cable cord altogether. As for myself, I don't have a Co-axial cable at all here, I use ATTs Fiber500 Internet service, so I have a Fiber-optic cable to connect me to the Internet.

I hope this clears thing up for you,


Posted by:

29 Apr 2023

I just looked at my library site (Toronto) and Kanopy is available. Also the CBC has programs but you'd need to look and see what they have. CBCGem is available online. I have seen old movies and tv series on YouTube. I don't watch tv so I don't know what else there is if I searched for it.

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