The Best FREE Streaming Services in 2022
A few years ago, I became the first “cord-cutter” in my group of friends. I would tell anyone who would listen that the future was in streaming services. Plus, I was getting access to far more content than they were, at much lower prices. But now, thanks to the pandemic, everyone and their grandma has a paid streaming service (or three). So I have gone from a single paid streaming service to about four, and my content is dwindling daily. But what if I let you in on a little secret? There are free streaming services, and they aren’t as bad as you think! Interested? Read on, and I will give you my Top Five Free Streaming Services in 2022.
1) Tubi TV
Tubi TV is, by far, my top choice for the top five free streaming services. First off, it has about 40,000 titles in its library. No, you aren’t going to get access to the latest blockbusters. But you will get access to many great movies from the ’80s forward, plus access to some great TV shows. There is even some original content on there.
I usually doom-scroll Netflix, only to turn it off without seeing something I wanted to watch. Not so with Tubi TV! I usually find something I want to watch right away. My problem is that there is TOO much I want to watch!
Oh, and those ads? They are pretty unobnoxious. You see a couple before you start your show. Then they give you a couple more every 25 or so minutes. I barely noticed the ads in a movie. The breaks were so short that I didn’t have time to use the washroom and fix a new drink before my show was back on.
Its lack of obnoxious ads is enough to quickly get Tubi TV on my top five free streaming services list. But the icing on the cake is that if you want to sign up for an optional free account, you can remember what shows you watched and where you left off!
I know what you are going to say. Plex is the software you use to access your home media, not a streaming service that should land in the top five free streaming services. Well, you would be wrong twice.
Plex has been offering ad-supported free content for a while. And just like Tubi TV and the other services that we will discuss, it’s not blockbuster content. Plus, if you have a Plex-pass and OTA tuner, you can record local TV content (for free) and use the DVR feature to playback or stream later. I have not used the Plex OTA DVR feature so I can’t speak to that.
As for their on-demand movies? Well, you can access those through both the Plex app and their website. You can choose from genres or scroll through images until you find what you want. Ads are pretty reasonable. There was one every 10-15 mins for 30 seconds. This is much better than any cable service but falls far short of Tubi.
And remember when I said you would be wrong twice? The new universal search feature lets you aggregate all the content from your apps, including the free ones, to find pretty much anything you want! That alone makes Plex one of the top five free streaming services I recommend.
3) Crackle/Crunchy Roll
Crackle was the very first ad-supported free streaming app I downloaded. Early on, Crackle was the only free app to feature decent content from the ’80s and ’90s without incredibly annoying pop-ups every 30 seconds. In 2016 Crackle (owned by Sony) added a second specialty service called Crunchy Roll. Crunchy Roll, as the name suggests, focused on Anime content out of Japan.
Where Crackle has always shined was classic TV. There are many great nostalgic TV shows that it is an easy choice for my top five free streaming services. Right now (May 2022), I enjoy watching some shows like ALF from my youth on Crackle. But there are many TV programs from the ’70s, ’80s, and beyond that I am sure will appeal to many. Crunchy Roll still is the place to find anime. They have some very hard-to-find stuff from the ’80s and ’90s that will still appeal to the hardcore fan.
Ads are a mixed bag. I found that Crackle was very reasonable with their ads, averaging every 15 mins or so. Crunchy Roll was up and down, with some programs seeing ads every 5 mins or so, and then others matching Crackle at 15 minutes. I can only assume that more frequent ads are a sign that Crunchy Roll paid a premium for that show and are forced to shill more ads to support it.
4) ABC/NBC/PBS/CBC Etc.
Even though you may not have a cable TV subscription, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get the latest TV shows. Most cable networks have an ad-supported site that will allow you to stream some of the latest episodes. But there are some caveats.
First, the shows are generally released one to two weeks after their original air date. This limitation is not a deal-breaker because I am usually one month behind my shows – except for Star Wars and Yellowstone! But if you have a case of “must-see TV,” this would be difficult for you. On top of that, the episodes are usually up only for a limited time. If you really care about seeing every episode, you might need to keep a separate calendar just to remind you to watch before the episode disappears!
Secondly, the ads tend to be often and the same repeatedly. My wife and I saw the same commercial so often that we used it as a running joke for weeks. I found that watching on the streaming site was just as ad-laden as the cable station. That said, if you don’t subscribe to cable, you still get to see the same content I pay for.
Lastly, in the US, the major networks bundle use apps like Hulu to show their content, and there is a fee for that. If you want to see it for free, you will have to navigate their website. It’s not too cumbersome with an HTPC, but I just use my phone and cast it to my TV. Easy peasy! However, if you live in Canada, we have apps for CTV, Global, and CBC. So…winning…for Canada!
But if you can get over those few things, major cable apps/sites make my top five free streaming services.
5) Prime Video
Ok, so hear me out. I consider Prime Video as one of the top five free streaming services. My Amazon Prime membership gives me free and quick shipping. That’s why I signed up. But I also get Amazon Video, Music, Prime Gaming, and Reading for FREE as a value-added service!
The “problem” with Amazon Prime Video is that they show you ALL their content. This means you can search for a movie or show, and find it, but realize it is only available to buy/rent or as part of one of the add-on channels (Showtime, AMC+, HBO Max, etc.).
This means that if you want every movie and show they have to offer, you have to upgrade channel by channel. They start at $3/month and go up as high as $25/month for premium sports offerings. But I am happy with what Amazon offers with their “free” version. And to be honest, I don’t watch a ton of what they offer, so I have no desire to upgrade past free.
So until Amazon decides to ruin Prime Video by making it a stand-alone service versus a value-added one with my Prime membership, I will continue to count it as one of the top five free streaming services available today!
Cord-cutting was a viable option to cut your cable bill dramatically…five years ago. Now that there are som many different proprietary subscription services for content, the cost of being on the bleeding edge of streaming is approaching having cable TV again.
Hopefully, my choices for the top five free streaming services in 2022 will help you cut costs and get some decent movies and shows that you haven’t seen before or have been looking to rewatch.
What about you? What are some of the free services you use and swear by? Let me know in the comments below.