Crackle is a revolving door of TV and movie content that won’t cost you a thing, but of course that means it needs to generate ad-based revenue, and its library is relatively thin compared to what you’ll get from paid services. You might find great episodes of a show you’ve forgotten, but you also run the risk that the availability of said will be limited to a scant number of episodes or seasons. Crackle offers some original programming as well, like the docuseries Going from Broke and the horror-comedy movie Office Uprising. Given its ever-changing lineup, Crackle is best for sampling new shows or poking around for some forgotten entertainment from the past.
Tubi has a surprisingly large library, considering it is completely free. You’ll run into ads, of course, but you also might find plenty of shows or movies you wont’t find elsewhere. (I, for one, owe an eternal debt of gratitude for allowing me to rewatch Transformer’s Beast Wars not long ago, which I couldn’t find on any of my many paid streaming services at the time.) Don’t expect a ton for new or trending titles, but the free back catalog makes Tubi something that might even be worth paying for. You know, if it wasn’t free. (Its FAQs understandably feature the questions “Is Tubi really free?” and “Is Tubi legal?,” and fortunately, it’s both.)
Vudu isn’t completely free—there are plenty of titles you can pay for—but it’s worth adding to the list given the amount of free titles available. There are over 10,000 of them, and you can easily filter to find the free stuff, which includes plenty of B-rate movies, old sitcoms, and endless horror movies (if you’re browsing for something random in October). Vudu is great if you have no idea what you want to watch; poke around to discover an obscure old movie or random old series to watch for free—and if you see something newer that you want to buy, it’s just a click away.
Cost: $0 (more or less)