Maybe you’re sick of paying for streaming services you don’t use as much as you thought you would. Maybe you’ve just gone through all the movies you want to see on Netflix. Maybe you’re looking for something a little weirder or less mainstream than what you’ll find on traditional streaming services. Whatever the reason, there may come a time when you’re looking for something to watch that won’t dent your wallet. There are tons of sites and services out there, but some are less legal or trustworthy than you may feel comfortable using.
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That’s why we put together a list of sites where you can watch movies online for free — without breaking any laws or jeopardizing your computer’s security. The following are some of the most trustworthy free video-streaming services on the web and, combined, they host more movies than you could watch in a lifetime.
The big players
Sony Crackle, Crackle, or Crackle Plus
Once known simply as “Crackle,” this free streaming site has been through almost as many name changes as P. Diddy. Initially controlled by Sony, it’s now a joint-venture between Sony and Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment (CSS). That partnership created a new entity called Crackle Plus, and it was believed that this would also become the name of the streaming service too. However, one look at the site and it’s clear that simplicity has won: It’s just called Crackle.
Whatever you call it, the service includes content from six ad-supported CSS streaming services (Popcornflix, Popcornflix Kids, Popcornflix Comedy, Frightpix, Españolflix, and Truli), as well as some Sony movies and television shows.
You’ll find a good number of blockbuster hits like Speed, The Transporter, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and a generous smattering of obscure-but-interesting B-movies. Crackle is a great resource, though the constant interruptions from advertisers can get old pretty quickly. The service is offered in 21 countries but has shut down its Canadian, Latin American, and Australian offerings.
Newer to this roundup is the Amazon-owned IMDb TV (formerly known as Freedive). It has free, ad-supported TV shows and movies. In February 2020, the service acquired the rights to over 20 Disney-owned series, including Lost, Desperate Housewives, Malcolm in the Middle and My So-Called Life. It’s also the only site that lets your stream Lost and Malcolm in the Middle for free.
Other TV shows in its relatively small library include Fringe, Heroes, Quantum Leap, and Forensic Files. Movies include Memento, La La Land, Drive, Monster, Donnie Darko, Dune, The Illusionist, Zodiac, Clue and more. You can watch IMDb TV on the web, Amazon Fire devices, and Apple TV, and through the Amazon Prime app that you can find on many smart TVs, tablets, and phones. IMDb TV is U.S.-only for now, although a European expansion is in the works.
Walmart-owned Vudu might be better known for its subscription streaming service, but the platform also has an impressive and free ad-supported content section. Titles such as Gravity, The Iron Giant, and Bad Santa are good examples of what you’ll find.
If you take a cruise through the site’s selection of 4K/HDR titles, there are even one or two free-to-watch options, such as Apocalypse Now and Shutter Island. You’ll still need a Vudu account, but you can create one for free. The Vudu app is already supported by plenty of platforms including Roku, Apple TV, game consoles, and more. Plus there’s an app for most mobile devices. Vudu is only available in the U.S.
Hoopla Library Lending Movies
How’s this for a good deal: Sign up for a library card and get free downloads or streams of movies, with no ads at all. That’s the deal when you use Hoopla, a digital media streaming platform that has partnered with local libraries to let members access borrowable content online. It’s similar to Overdrive, but with more than just ebooks and audiobooks.
The availability of any given title will depend on your location and the number of copies available for download, but we found some surprisingly decent flicks when we checked in February 2020. Streaming will work on any device with a browser, while downloads require the Hoopla app on a mobile device. Not every library currently supports Hoopla, so make sure you ask. So far, libraries in the U.S. and Canada have access to Hoopla.
This one is a no-brainer. Everyone knows YouTube is the biggest video-hosting service online, and you probably already use the site for silly cat videos and footage of people getting hit with exercise balls. But YouTube has a sizable collection of feature-length movies on its free tier as well. Granted, the majority of these are B-list novelties, but there are a few quality flicks hiding in there.
In addition to the free, Google-curated movies, there are thousands of films on the site that won’t show up unless you search directly for them. If you’re looking for a particular title, especially an older one, it’s worth performing a quick search on YouTube to see if someone has posted it. These aren’t always uploaded by the film’s rights holders, and many of them are divided into episodes and playlists, but as they say, beggars can’t be choosers.
Finding free movies on YouTube has gotten more difficult lately, as more rights holders are opting to offer their films for rent via the service, and YouTube also has subscription tiers like YouTube Premium and its live TV streaming service, YouTube TV. Still, you’ll find plenty to watch, especially if your standards aren’t too high regarding the quality of the stream.
YouTube might be the biggest video-hosting site, but Vimeo is probably the best. Yeah, them’s fighting words, but Vimeo has the muscle to back them up. The site has a clean layout that’s devoid of ads and benefits from an active user community that’s widely considered more professional and constructive than YouTube’s.
From this community emerges a lot of great original short and feature-length films. Vimeo also has an On-Demand section where users can purchase full-length movies and television shows. The majority of these are independently produced by Vimeo users, but some offerings are produced by major studios as well. Either way, Vimeo is a great place to find free, high-quality movies.
The Roku Channel
When Roku initially launched its free, ad-supported Roku Channel, it wasn’t technically eligible for this roundup, because you had to have one of the company’s streaming media devices to see it. Roku devices certainly won’t break the bank, but they aren’t free. Now, however, the Roku Channel is available to anyone, via the web, as well as through the company’s free apps for iOS and Android.
The service boasts more than 10,000 titles to choose from, including old favorites such as Training Day, It Follows, Starship Troopers, Donnie Darko, and Police Academy. You’ll need to create a free Roku account before you can watch, but that’s a quick and painless process. If you ever decide to expand your choices, the Roku Channel is now home to several premium subscription options including Showtime, Epix, and Starz. The Roku Channel is available in the U.S. and Canada.