By Hilary Thompson
Love to watch your favorite TV shows and movies, but would rather not pay for one of the big streaming services out there? Good news: There are alternatives to the streaming powerhouses where you can still find popular titles, different and unique programs, and even trending videos. Oftentimes, many of the same TV shows and movies that you’d find through Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime are available for less. Here are a few streaming services you’ve never heard of that can help you both find new programs and save money.
If you have a library card, chances are you can access Hoopla, the digital service of Midwest Tape, which is a key provider of media products to public libraries. Hoopla allows library patrons to borrow movies, audiobooks, ebooks, TV shows, music, and more on your device or smart TV. The ad-free service has hundreds of thousands of titles to choose from, allowing library card-holders to borrow content without the wait-list.
This is a documentary streaming service created and curated by documentary filmmakers, offering its content ad-free and high-definition to its subscribers. It has over 2000+ titles and the company says it adds new content weekly. Take a deep dive into history, space, science, nature, and true crime documentaries with curated playlists to guide your all-night binge session.
Also offered to member library cardholders and university staff, no cost and ad-free. New titles are added every month, with the aim to reach viewers worldwide with thoughtful entertainment. Kanopy Kids, part of the service, offers a collection of TV shows and movies for your little library enthusiasts.
Pluto TV offers thousands of on-demand movies and live TV in endless categories, as well as trending videos. Search movie categories including pop culture, music documentaries, anime, surf movies, creature features, and many more. This free, ad-supported streaming service, which is the source of content for Vizio’s WatchFree service, offers some popular networks as well as more than 240 channels.
Tubi claims to be the world’s largest ad-supported video-on-demand service, experiencing record growth in 2019, with more than 163 million hours watched in December 2019 – 160% more than the previous year. The company plans to spend more on content in 2020 to expand its library, building on its 250-plus content partners. Check out unique categories such as Highly Rated on Rotten Tomatoes and Not on Netflix.
Vudu offers more than 150,000 movies, 10,000 of them free with ads. No subscription is needed to watch the films that aren’t free; you simply pay for the movies or TV shows you want to watch. You can search movies conveniently labeled as “free with ads,” “sale,” “new to rent,” or “early access.” Early access films allow viewers to see new releases sometimes weeks before they come out on Netflix, Hulu, or via Blu-Ray and DVD.
This is the free ad-supported video channel of the film information site, offering TV, movies, and IMDb originals. See documentaries, comedies, date night films, sci-fi, family, real-life dramas, and more. Watch via the IMDb website on your laptop or PC, or via the Amazon Prime Video app and Amazon Fire devices. Available within the U.S. and its territories.
Xumo offers a vast library of free live and on-demand entertainment, with more than 190 channels, adding more each week. It’s a good place to go to keep up on breaking news, offering network news channels as well as Local Now for “hyper-local” news. It also features NowThis (“all the videos you need to stay on the news”), comedy channels, pet channels, court drama, black cinema, action movies, sci-fi, and more. Xumo and the applications it powers (including Channel Plus and LG Channels) are available in North America, some European nations, and Brazil.
Find more than 2,000 TV shows, original comedy shorts, and intriguing documentary and independent films on this free streaming service. The service’s mission is to promote “filmanthropy,” the power that documentaries have to inspire action (a term coined by SnagFilms’s chairman and founder Ted Leonsis). Search for movies by categories including Climate Change & The Environment, Celebrate Pride, Refugee and Immigrant Stories, History Lessons, and more.
This service from Sinclair Broadcast Group gives you access to local news and entertainment in your market. Browse by genre for popular movies and TV programs, complete with a channel guide for TV stations. While you won’t find current prime-time releases, you will have access to classic TV and stations like Charge! and Comet that play older (and offbeat) movies and programs.
Popcornflix’s parent company, Screen Media Ventures, LLC, is one of the largest indy distributors of motion pictures, with more than 1,500 titles. Search movies, TV shows, web series, and viral videos. No registration required; simply search the categories. If you need a dose of the latest dog or cat videos, this is the place.