Did you know there are great Netflix alternatives that won’t cost you a single dollar? That’s right, you can enjoy all the live TV channels and on-demand content you want via several free streaming services. Considering the emergence of paid streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and Apple TV Plus, streaming subscriptions can quickly add up—but with the best free streaming services, you can kick back and relax knowing you’re saving money. Keep in mind, all of the free streaming services on this list include ads, but that’s no different than commercials on cable TV anyway.

The best free streaming services:

Also, if you want to skip ahead, you can learn how to get premium paid streaming subscriptions, such as Netflix and HBO Max, for free.


1. Peacock TV

Original content: Yes
Live TV: Yes
Registration required: No

NBC’s Peacock TV is our number one pick for the best free streaming service of 2020 because of its variety of high-quality content, such as Friday Night Lights, Parks and Recreation, This is Us, 30 Rock, Heroes, Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU, House, and Ray Donovan. You can also enjoy hundreds of movies, including American Psycho, Jurassic Park, Shrek, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Scarface, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and more.

Peacock has both a free and paid version—with the free version, you’ll have to watch ads, but we think it’s worth it for the wealth of content you have access to. You also don’t need to create an account, which is a huge plus since a lot of free streaming services require you to do so.


2. Pluto TV

Original content: No
Live TV: Yes
Registration required: No

Pluto TV has a nice selection of on-demand TV shows and movies, as well as live TV streaming. You can watch channels like BET Her, MTV Teen, VH1 Reality, and TV Land Drama. You’ll also have access to Fox Sports and CNN, although you can only watch clips from these channels as opposed to the live broadcasts.

Like Peacock, Pluto TV has ads, but that’s pretty much par for the course at this point. It’s to be expected that free streaming services will have some compromises, but ads are a relatively small sacrifice to make for no-cost TV. And like Peacock, you don’t have to make an account to get started, which is always a pro.


3. Roku Channel

Original content: No
Live TV: Yes
Registration required: No

When you buy a Roku TV or device, you automatically get the Roku Channel app, but you can also download it on your smartphone or tablet or stream on the web. The Roku Channel offers on-demand TV shows and movies, and will soon feature a Roku Live TV Guide, which allows you to channel surf. You can watch live TV on channels such as USA Today, Comedy Central, MTV, BET, ABC News, and more. One of the nice things about the Roku Channel is that the content is regularly updated. Not to mention, the ads are fairly limited compared to rival streaming services.

You don’t have to register in order to start streaming on the Roku Channel, but signing up does have its benefits, such as seamlessly continuing to watch content on another device, accessing premium channel subscriptions, and receiving recommendations based on your watch history.


4. IMDb TV

Original content: Yes
Live TV: No
Registration required: Yes

Now owned by Amazon, movie review site IMDb has expanded its territory into streaming subscriptions. The IMDb TV channel is automatically included with Fire TV Sticks and Fire TVs, and you can also watch it through the Amazon Prime Video app. IMDb TV’s library is very impressive with some of the highest quality content out there today, such as Schitt’s Creek, White Collar, Psych, Fringe, Lost, Mad Men, Friday Night Lights, Desperate Housewives, and Lie to Me. Some great movies include Donnie Darko, Hitch, Rain Man, The Amityville Horror, Midnight in Paris, Lincoln, The Hunger Games series, and Rudy. The one downside to having such great content is that you’ll have to endure quite a few ads—but remember, it’s free.

Unlike a few other free streaming services, you do have to sign up for an IMDb TV account in order to access these excellent titles, but it’s easy. And if you already have Amazon Prime, then you can watch IMDb TV via your Amazon Prime Video app without registering.


5. Tubi TV

Original content: No
Live TV: No
Registration required: No

Tubi TV is the closest thing to a free Netflix alternative on this list, boasting a library of more than 20,000 TV shows and movies. However, Tubi TV doesn’t have the newer and premium shows and movies that a service like Netflix has, nor does it have originals—but for a free service, it’s not doing half bad. Where Tubi TV shines is with its older, nostalgic titles, such as 3rd Rock From the Sun, Alf, Mr. Bean, Flavor of Love, The Boondock Saints, Donnie Darko, Heathers, Barber Shop 2, and Shrek Forever After.

Another cool thing about Tubi TV is the sheer amount of categories you have access to—from traditional ones like Action and Comedy to LGBTQ, Black Cinema, Movie Night, and my personal favorite, “Not on Netflix.” You don’t have to sign up for Tubi to start streaming content, but registering will allow you to see your viewing history, create a queue, and use parental controls.


6. Vudu

Original content: No
Live TV: No
Registration required: Yes

Vudu is a great free streaming service because aside from access to tons of free TV shows and movies, you also have the opportunity to buy or rent movies as well. This makes it a great alternative to Amazon Prime, especially since you don’t have to pay a monthly subscription in order to have this option. Popular free TV shows on Vudu include Shameless, Being Human, Hell’s Kitchen, and America’s Serial Killers. Free Vudu movies include The Prestige, Hoosiers, Night of the Living Dead, and more.

One thing we like about Vudu is the fact that the ads all come at the beginning of your program so you don’t have to worry about interruptions. That said, sometimes the ads can be annoying because they require you to choose an option on the screen before it will continue.


7. Sling

Original content: No
Live TV: Yes
Registration required: No

The paid version of Sling costs $30/month and includes over 50 live TV channels, and as of late, you can access Sling for free with on-demand and live content. The content isn’t going to blow you away, but you can watch ABC News Live as well as a few other channels, and you can access on-demand content like Unsolved Mysteries, Forensic Files, and 3rd Rock From the Sun. That said, the library is pretty unimpressive, especially compared to the others on this list, which is why we’ve listed it last—but it is a cool new opportunity from Sling that could include better titles in the future.


Free streaming with your phone plan

As thrilled as you may be about all the free streaming services at your disposal, sometimes nothing can really replace the streaming powerhouses like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max. The good news is you can get these streaming services for free with select cell phone plans. Here’s a list of which carriers include which streaming services free of cost:

  • AT&T: Free HBO Max
  • Verizon: Free Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu
  • T-Mobile: Free Netflix
  • Metro by T-Mobile: Free Amazon Prime

Keep in mind, only select plans through these carriers include entertainment perks. For instance, you can only get free HBO Max on AT&T’s flagship unlimited plan, Unlimited Elite, which costs $85/month. However, HBO Max is the most expensive streaming subscription on this list at $15/month, effectively dropping the AT&T Unlimited Elite Plan to a respectable $70/month. Before choosing a phone plan that’s right for you, you’ll want to compare plans and carriers.