Does Netflix put a strain on your budget? Following a price increase3 and its ultra-HD level to $ 16. streaming service now starts at $ 9 per month, with its most popular plan now at $ 1
Don't fear: As long as you have an internet connection, you can continue to enjoy the movie night. Sure, you may not be able to stream Hollywood's latest (OK, you definitely can't ), but you can still see gems like Captain Fantastic, Eighth Class, Gravity, Raging Bull and more, all without spending an extra penny .
Here are ten services that offer totally free, completely legal movies that you can watch on smart TVs, media streams and mobile devices. Some also offer TV programs. Just be prepared to sit through advertising, because that's how most of these services pay the bills. And don't expect the opportunity to download movies for offline viewing. Currently, only Hoopla lets you do it.
Note: Because selections change regularly, not all titles listed here may still be available.
Sony's Crackle is an ad-supported streaming service, one that offers both movies and TV shows – including original content. It exists on a variety of devices and doesn't even require you to set up an account, but by doing so you can save favorites, get recommendations and resume playback if you switch between devices.
Top choices as of December 2019: Adaptation, Aliens, Captain Phillips, Groundhog Day, Whiplash
This relative newcomer, formerly known as FreeDrive, is part of the IMDb, Internet Movie Database, owned by Amazon. In other words, IMDb TV Amazon's way of offering ad-supported movie streaming is independent of Amazon Prime. And it's not limited to movies; There are TV shows as well. Unfortunately, there is a rather large viewing restriction: The service only works on computers and Fire TVs.
Top Picks from December 2019: Founder, Gravity, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land
Do you have a library card? Check if your library has partnered with Hoopla. This digital media service lets you check out all kinds of things – including movies. When you "borrow" one, you have 72 hours to look at it. Your library determines the total number of movies you can borrow each month.
Surprisingly, Hoopla's mobile apps not only offer streaming, but also a download option for offline viewing.
December 2019 Top Choice: Ex Machina, The Illusionist, Life is Beautiful, The Sting, Good Will Hunting, The Commitments, Thelma & Louise
Screenshot by Rick Broida / CNET
The Internet Archive is home to all things that are public utility, including thousands of films in the long run. It may not be surprising that it does not cost to use the service, nor do you need an account (but you can create one if you want to select favorites and such).
"Public domain" is code for "old" or "mostly black-and-white," making this the place for people interested in classic movies. Thus you will find ones like His Girl Friday, Plan 9 from Outer Space and Gulliver's Travels. However, the archive is only available on the web, so you need a browser to access it. (Most mobile browsers should work.)
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, more recently, to various US libraries. Check out the site to see if your library has it – and ask for it if it doesn't.
Kanopy offers some common things, but also a large selection of indie films and documentaries from PBS and The Great Courses. Its library also contains titles from the esteemed Criterion Collection, which is the code for "movies." There's also a new section of Kanopy Kids with lots of family-friendly content.
December 2019 top pick: Captain Fantastic, eighth grade, Logan Lucky, Super Size Me 2, What We Do in the Shadows
Plex is best known for its media-slinging server software, but the company is now making a proposal for free movie streaming. It is perhaps not surprising that there is some overlap with other services. But the Plex app also offers an admirably simple portal for news, podcasts, web shows and other content.
December 2019 Top Picks: Apocalypse Now, Evil Dead II, Raging Bull, The Right Stuff, Tucker: The Man and His Dream
A fast growing live television streaming service (with content from both CBS and, ahem, CNET), Pluto also offers on-demand movies – including, as of this writing, most of the former James Bond Titles. You will find everything from Dr. No to Tomorrow Never Dies. (Unfortunately, nothing from the Daniel Craig era – although you can find him in the Layer Cake.)
Top Picks from December 2019: Dances with Wolves, GoldenEye, Memento , Terminator, Rain Man, Thelma & Louise
Roku Channel is not a free movie provider, but rather a compilation of new and existing free content. Therefore, do not be surprised if there is some overlap with some films available on other services. You will find movies from Roku partners such as Lionsgate, MGM, Sony and Warner, along with free content from existing Roku channels such as FilmRise, Popcornflix and Vidmark.
Of course, the channel is available on Roku TVs and devices, but it is also available in desktop browsers.
December 2019 Top Picks: Groundhog Day, March of the Penguins, Spotlight, The Iron Giant
Home to thousands of free commercial movies (but definitely not commercially free), Tubi TV offers content from studios including Lionsgate, MGM and Paramount. To help distinguish wheat from the cormorant, check out these two categories: high rating on rotten tomatoes and not on Netflix.
Top Picks from December 2019: The Aviator, Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2, Rat Race, Red Dawn
Walmart's Vudu video service has continuously expanded its ad-supported section, allowing viewers to choose from a generous selection of movies (mostly older titles, unfortunately) to watch at no cost. This option requires that you have a Vudu account, but it is free to set up one.
December 2019 Top Picks: Jerry Maguire, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, No Country for Old Men, The Stone
Originally published two years ago. Updated regularly to reflect new services and movie choices.