How to Watch Free Movies Online (and some TV, too.)
There are plenty of ways to stream movies online — whether it’s mystery or action — without paying a dime.
This guide will quickly show you where to find all kinds of movies to watch for free, including foreign and independent films. Along the way, you’ll also be surprised to discover that some popular TV shows once exclusive to cable are online for free.
These websites and streaming platforms aren’t just showing on-demand content. You can now live stream things like college football games and pro wrestling with Pluto TV. Extreme sports like cliff diving and live music festivals are on Red Bull TV.
I’m going to assume that you already know about using YouTube to watch interesting documentaries, free concerts and live streams.
These recommendations show you how to watch free movies online using a computer, a smartphone, Roku or other streaming device. The sites and apps listed below have no fees. You may have to set up a profile and provide an email address, but you’re not giving away any personal information beyond that.
Forget about using someone else’s Netflix username and password. You don’t need it anymore.
Pluto TV: Watch free movies online (and TV and live sports!)
Without question, Pluto TV is the best free live TV streaming service out there. If you only tap into one site or app on this list, make sure this is it. You could describe Pluto TV simply as free online TV. But it’s really much more than that.
Just about every movie genre is represented in the on-demand section thanks to a deal that Pluto TV struck with major studios Lionsgate, MGM and Warner Bros. You can find documentaries alongside independent films and major studio blockbusters. It’s easily one of the best ways to watch free movies online.
Pluto TV has 90 live streaming channels. There are a dozen live news channels from NBC News & MSNBC to The Weather Network. Under sports, you’ll find pro-wrestling, kickboxing and college football with channels like Big Sky Conference.
The live movie channels have action, and some are genre specific fare like Horror 24/7. If you sign up for a free account, you will also be able to tap into the massive on-demand movie section when you use the Pluto TV app.
My favorite live TV channel is Live Music Replay, which turns out live concerts around the clock and performances rarely seen anywhere else.
Speaking of music, there are 32 channels that give you every genre of music you can think of. You’ve seen channels like this in cable packages like Comcast. But really, this could also be as decent as Pandora.
How to Watch: Pluto TV works on a PC with a viewer you can download. Consider it your portal to free TV online. There are Pluto TV apps for smartphones and tablets. It’s also available on all major streaming devices like Roku, Fire TV and Android TV. (Streaming device app has on-demand movie menu.)
What to Watch: Live Music Replay, a live channel offering a buffet of live music from nearly every genre. (But where’s the hip hop?)
Smithsonian Channel: Free TV online, on-demand episodes
You don’t need a cable TV subscription to enjoy full episodes from Smithsonian Channel. There is a rotating selection of about 28 episodes that covers the spectrum of programming that Smithsonian Channel offers.
Episodes like Hunt for Atlantis, The Great Galveston Hurricane and Castro’s Secret Reef are currently available to stream for free. Aerial America is one favorite show that my wife and I always watch. It makes for great background eye candy while you’re in front of the TV doing something else like reading.
How to Watch: Stream free episodes online from the Smithsonian Channel website or use the app on Roku, Fire TV and Android TV.
What to Watch: Aerial America gives you an eye opening/bird’s eye view of beautiful spots around the U.S.
The CW: Live stream or on-demand
Super heroes are all the rage these days. Being an avid comic book collector as a teen, I have no bones about it. Personally, I’m more of a Marvel guy.
If you’re fans of The Flash, Supergirl or Arrow, The CW offers up free episodes. What’s interesting is that you can get The CW a number of ways. It comes with cable packages. You can find it on live streaming services like fuboTV, and even get the channel with your antenna. But you really don’t need a pay-TV option to watch it.
The CW website has full episodes online and even notes if there’s a casting device on your home network. The app works well, too.
How to Watch: Stream free TV online with episodes from The CW website or use the app on Roku, Fire TV and Android TV.
What to Watch: Any superhero series you please — like The Flash.
Comet TV: Stream classic Sci-Fi and watch free movies online
A free Sci-Fi channel is pretty cool, especially when you notice the pay-TV content that’s on it. With shows like Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate SG-1, The Outer Limits and Mystery Science Theater 3000, you’ve got some nice premium sci-fi on Comet TV.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) just rolled out a digital platform called Stargate Command, a hub for everything Stargate. The Outer Limits has stood the test of time and can be found on Netflix these days. Mystery Science Theater episodes also reside on Pluto TV at the moment. Cost to you thanks to Comet TV? Nada.
How to Watch: You can get a live feed for Comet TV directly on its website. For antenna users, it’s also available as a sub-channel in many parts of the U.S.
What to Watch: The Outer Limits
CBSN: Live Streaming News platform
There are few networks dealing with this migration to live streaming better than CBS. Their standalone live streaming channel CBSN functions with its own news anchors and has a vibrant roundup of breaking news from around the world. So it really kicks cable-stalwart networks like CNN in shins. CBSN has original programming, including CBSN: On Assignment.
CBSN also draws upon segments from some of its anchor shows like 60 Minutes and Sunday Morning. So even if you don’t have those shows in your DVR wheelhouse, there’s a good chance for you to catch up some of the compelling interviews and features that both shows are known for. If you have a need for more news options, look at my comprehensive roundup of the best news apps for live streaming on Amazon Fire TV & Roku.
How to Watch: You can get a live feed of CBSN directly from the web, or apps for popular streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Android TV devices like NVIDIA Shield TV.
What to Watch: Breaking news and catch up on segments of 60 Minutes and Sunday Morning.
Crackle: Watch free movies online, and original shows like Snatch
This Sony-owned platform has original programming like Snatch, loosely based on the popular movie directed by Guy Ritchie that was released in 2000. The show has been an unlikely hit and well received due in part to its great cast. Original programming is where Crackle shines. From the Basement is another hidden gem on Crackle that has such great live music in just about every episode. You can see performances from bands like The Shins and ex-‘Til Tuesday frontwoman Aimee Mann. On the network TV front, the entire season of The Blacklist: Redemption is available to stream.
You can watch free movies online with Crackle, too. The movie selection has some hidden gems like Mission Impossible 3, the original Flatliners movie starring Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland. Harry Brown, The Professional and The Ides of March are also all available as of this writing.
How to Watch: Stream Crackle on your computer or download the app to any Fire TV device, Roku or Android TV device.
What to Watch: From the Basement has some great live music and the series Snatch showcases some real acting talent.
Bloomberg TV: Live stream business news
If you want live, around-the-clock take on the stock market and business news, Bloomberg TV fill out any needs that a cable channel might satisfy. The live feed has the latest episodes of Charlie Rose, which also airs on PBS. Aside from the live feed, there’s on-demand content that you’ll also find on the Bloomberg TV cable channel.
How to Watch: Watch Bloomberg TV online or watch it on Fire TV and Roku using streaming apps.
What to Watch: Live business news and new episodes of Charlie Rose.
Tubi TV: Watch Free Movies and TV online
There’s a huge selection of shows on Tubi TV, including ones that you would regularly see on channels like A&E and National Geographic. Fans of stand-up comedy have an entire section of specials to watch from pros like Gary Gulman and DL Hughley. There are shows for kids and family movies.
The way Tubi TV organizes its movies and shows makes it easy to find something to watch. Some of my favorite sections are “Docuseries”, “Highly Rated on Rotten Tomatoes”, “Indie Films” and “Award Winners & Nominees”. There’s also a very handy Leaving Soon!” section. So you don’t need A&E to watch Season 7 and Season 8 of Dog The Bounty Hunter. Tubi TV has it for free. The movie selection on Tubi TV is huge. The best place to start looking is the “Most Popular” section.
You can either watch free movies online or stream them from a Roku or Amazon Fire TV.
How to Watch: Either stream Tubi TV directly from its website or download apps to Roku, Fire TV and Android TV devices so you can stream on your TV.
What to Watch: Stand-up comedy specials, shows from A&E and independent films.
Popcornflix: Watch free movies online and National Geographic on-demand
Want to watch free episodes of Alaska State Troopers? Popcornflix has a section dedicated to National Geographic/Nat Geo Wild shows.
If your guilty pleasure is that old reality TV show Cheaters, Popcornflix will hook you up with 87 episodes. The movie selection on Popcornflix is poor compared to what you can find on other free sites and apps like Pluto TV, Crackle and Tubi TV. But it’s another way to watch free movies online, and it’s worth looking over their section of foreign films and indie flicks.
How to Watch: On Windows 10, you’ll need to download the free Popcornflix app to access its library of movies and shows. Otherwise, download the app to your favorite streaming device.
What to Watch: Cheaters, of course.
Shout! Factory TV: Free TV online from the ’60s and ’70s
The best way to access Shout! Factory TV is through Pluto TV because that’s where you’ll find the best shows and movies it offers. The Shout! Factory TV channel has movies from the 1960s like The Pink Panther. If you watch Shout! TV Factory through its website, head over the Specials section under TV.
When you’re perusing the selection of movies and TV shows, Shout! Factory TV is like strolling through aisles of neatly arranged VHS boxes on display at a Major Video store in 1987.
There’s an episode of The Glenn Campbell Goodtime Hour, featuring a performance by Stevie Wonder that you can find around 5 min. and 50 seconds in. Just about every episode of Soul! has great performances by talents like Al Green and conversations with James Baldwin. His thoughts about race relations are as relevant today as they were back in the ’60s.
How to Watch: Stream Shout! Factory TV from its website, Pluto TV or via an app on just about any streaming device.
What to Watch: Every episode of Soul!
Yahoo View: Free TV online from NBC, FOX and ABC
This is probably the most underrated (and unknown) source for free TV online. It’s really useful for catching an episode of Saturday Night Live the day after it airs, or newer shows like The Orville. If you miss the days of when Hulu offered a completely free plan, it has basically relocated to Yahoo View. The streaming platform partnered with Yahoo to offer up the last four episodes of TV shows from FOX, ABC and NBC. There is a movie section within Yahoo View, but its offerings are pretty thin. That said, Yahoo View is a valuable resource for anyone without a TV antenna and DVR setup.
How to Watch: Stream Yahoo View from your web browser.
What to Watch: Catch up on episodes of Saturday Night Live or prime time shows on NBC, FOX and ABC.
Hoopla: Free on-demand movies for library card holders
A library card can be a powerful thing. With hoopla, you can use your library card to borrow movies and TV shows each month. The selection might not exactly be as current as what you’ll find in your local Redbox parked outside the grocery store, but it’s a massive resource to watch free movies online. It’s worth considering since it’s right in front of you.
The best way to browse through Hoopla is to search by category. You can also borrow music, audio books, ebooks and comics.
How to Watch: You can stream Hoopla content online or on Apple TV and Chromecast.
What To Watch: Silence of the Lambs or Made In America, the 2012 documentary of a music festival created by Jay-Z.
How do you watch free movies or TV online? Share with fellow readers below what you use to watch favorite shows and movies without paying for cable.