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9 Ways to Watch Free TV and Movies Online (or Cheaply)

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watch free tvHave you noticed lately that the cost of cable services are slowly rising and yet the number of channels being offered is shrinking?

I’ve personally switched from three different cable companies over the last ten years and finally cut the cable cord and have saved so much money and got more channels to view instead.

Let’s compare the three cable companies I had:

DirecTV: We purchased this as a bundle under AT&T and were paying roughly $135 for 185+ channels plus 5 Mpbs unlimited internet. (We had Vonage VOIP phone for another $24. Total: $160 a month.

Dish Network: After moving to a new place and a dispute with AT&T we then switched to Dish Network and then paid roughly $110 for 190 channels plus internet. We still had the Vonage. Total $134 a month.

Suddenlink: We had so much customer service trouble plus frequent loss of service on the satellite due to weather, (we live in Oklahoma), we decided to switch to Suddenlink. We paid roughly $118 a month for 200+ channels and 100 Mpbs unlimited internet. We also switched our phone service to MagicJack which only costs $35 a year. Total $121 a month.

We decided to cut cable all together and go for streaming services:

We signed up for a SlingTV’s special and got a free Roku Express and we pay $24 a month for 45+ channels that we really want and kept the Suddenlink internet of $80 (we’re still shopping around for better internet prices though).

Total $104 a month. But with the Roku service, we added so many free movies and tv channels that we enjoy.

Here are 9 ways you can cut cable and watch tv and movies for free (or cheaply):

1. Roku

Roku offers several types of streaming products for different needs. They start at $29 and up and are:

  • Roku TV – Offered in a variety of sizes and is a Smart LED TV with everything included
  • Roku Express – An easy portable streaming stick to plug into any compatible HDTV
  • Roku Ultra – Streaming Player with more enhanced features than the portable versions

Roku devices are easy to set-up and use. They can give you access to over 500,000 movies and TV episodes from top free and paid channels, so you can stream almost anything you want. The paid services are other streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, SlingTV, Amazon Prime, and a few others.

2. Internet

Many television and cable channels offer free streaming of their shows on their websites after the show has aired. So, if you don’t mind being a day or two behind, this is a great option.

For example, the AMC network will stream free episodes of The Walking Dead the day after with no login required, just click an episode and watch. Other networks may require you to sign in to your cable provider account, which if you’ve cut off – won’t work.

It may take time to find all your favorite shows and see which ones are free streaming to bookmark them, but once that’s done, it’s easy to click and stream them whenever you want.

3. Crackle

Crackle is a free streaming service from Sony. They offer many movies and television shows and even some of their own original series.

It’s available to stream on multiple devices – Roku, Android, Xbox, Apple TV, PS3, iPhone and more. It doesn’t have the large variety like Netflix does or is able to show new television shows quickly as Hulu does, but it’s completely free.

The only drawbacks are having to sit through ads and that their library changes so often that movies and shows you added to your list may not be there the following month.

4. SlingTV

SlingTV is set up like a cable provider with television listings for each channel and offers a DVR option. They offer 3 main packages and several add-on packages. These are:

  • Sling Orange – Offers about 30 channels and can only stream on one device at a time
  • Sling Blue – Offers 42 channels and is a different channel lineup than Orange and can stream on three different devices at once.
  • Sling Orange + Blue – Offers both packages

The two separate packages, Sling Orange and Sling Blue are $25 a month, while Orange + Blue is $40 a month. The extra add-ons include Latino, International, Lifestyle, Kids, Sports, News and are for a small extra fee, usually about $5.

Available on Roku, Apple, Android, AmazonFireTV, ChromeCast, Xbox One, AirTV player and more. They have several offers running now – Get a free Roku Express, and 20% off their Orange + Blue Package.

5. Netflix

Most of have heard of Netflix and probably use it frequently. Full of movies, television shows, original creations and even rent new releases.

Available on almost any device – TV, Laptop, Tablet, Gaming devices, Smartphones, and Streaming media. The bonus is you can have up to 6 people on your account and streaming different shows and movies that they want.

Netflix only costs $10 a month for the streaming service. They also have a DVD delivery service – $5 a month for their starter plan (2 DVDs a month), $8 a month for their standard plan (unlimited DVDs), and $12 for their premier plan (unlimited DVDs a month). The first 2 DVD plans only allows you to have 1 DVD out at a time while the premier plan allows 2 DVDs.

6. Hulu

Hulu is the other well-known streaming service. Unlike Netflix, they offer two packages for viewers, Hulu and Hulu Plus.

  • Hulu – $6 a month for 1-year (then increases to $8 afterward), stream from their library of movies and television shows with no (or limited) commercials
  • Hulu Plus – $40 a month and stream from their library of movies and television shows with no (or limited) commercials plus gain access to 50+ Live and on demand channels.

Again, you can watch on a huge variety of devices, but depending on your plan, streaming is limited. On-demand streaming can only be done on 1 device at a time and the Live option can only be streamed on two devices at a time.

7. Amazon Prime

If you have Amazon Prime, you get a streaming video service included. You can watch thousands of popular movies and TV shows, including exclusive Amazon originals.

You can stream on all Amazon viewing devices – Firestick, FireTV, Echo Show, as well as all the other smartphones, gaming consoles, and computers. You can stream up to 3 videos at a time on one Amazon account and stream the same video on 2 devices at the same time.

Amazon Video also offers the option to rent or buy movies and television shows as well as new releases. The prices depend on what type you want to rent or buy. They are either in SD or HD modes and renting an SD movie is around $5, renting a HD movie is about $6. Buying an SD movie is about $15 while an HD version is about $20 for the new releases.

8. Streaming Sports

Now if you’re a sports fan there are a lot of options to watch your favorite game for free. Here are 5 different ways:

  • ESPN.com – Watch many games live online on ESPN (some games require a log-in from your cable or satellite subscription)
  • Facebook Watch – Go to Facebook Watch, enter sports in the search bar, and scan the list for a live game to watch.
  • Reddit – The site itself doesn’t stream sports, but you’ll find subreddits of fans listing links to current live games
  • Stream2Watch – Has a comprehensive list of sports that can be viewed for free.
  • Cricfree – Specializes in Cricket, but has a variety of other sports as well.

A word of caution though, be sure to have a strong anti-virus program on your computer to prevent any malware hidden on some sites. A few of these sites are also heavy with pop-ups.

9. Antenna

Yes, you can still watch TV with an antenna. Depending on where you live and how much exposure you can get, this could be much cheaper than cable.

Having a digital TV converter box lets your analog TV be able to receive digital signals. The advantages of doing this include having enhanced audio and better picture quality; and the possibility of interactive video and data services.

Use this map to find out the signal strength in your area and what channels you may be able to receive.

Final Thoughts

Being able to watch your favorite shows and movies shouldn’t be expensive at all and it’s quite easy to ditch the cable services and even gain better viewing options.

Did you know that the average American watches about 5 hours of television a day? Think about how much you could be doing if you cut back on that considerably? Spend that time with your family, working a side hustle, learning a course online, or anything else besides being glued to the “boob tube”.

Bonus Tip: If you don’t have a smart TV or a streaming service device, you can connect your laptop or computer to your TV with an HDMI cable and watch from the internet that way.

For other ideas for  watching your television or smartphone you can read:

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