For TV and movie buffs who want to save money, there are a growing number of options for getting movies and TV shows for free. The main requirements for using them are an Internet connection and some kind of device, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone.
Some of the services, such as Pluto TV and Tubi, are supported by advertising. Other services such as Hoopla and Kanopy are offered by libraries, paid for by taxpayers, and only require a library card.
If you add a few apps to your phone or tablet, or add a few free channels to your Roku or your smart TV set, you’ll have access to a large number of free TV shows and movies
Such services are particularly useful for retirees on a fixed income, people with little money, or simply anyone who wants to save money, although there are limitations.
Popular franchise movies such as “Star Wars” don’t normally show up on such services; you can fill such gaps by checking out DVDs and Blue Rays from the local public library. In some cases, you may have to put a show or a movie on hold and wait for a little while. Fortunately, all local libraries belong to a library network, and nearly every title that’s commercially available can eventually be checked out.
Here’s a look at some of the free options:
Hoopla is a library service, available at nearly all public libraries, available to anyone who a valid library card.
While it lacks some of the very popular commercial blockbusters, it has a large selection of movies and TV shows. And since it’s a library service, you don’t have to watch commercials.
Sandusky Library allows 10 Hoopla checkouts a month. Each episode of a TV series counts as one checkout.
Available as an app and a website, Tubi has a big selection of movies and TV shows. You can create a free account and save titles for later viewing. Tubi is generally considered the best free alternative to sites such as Netflix, and I agree it’s a good resource.
Put the Pluto TV app on your phone and you’ll have a free version of cable television.
The app is organized into live channels. Pluto has more than a dozen movie channels, 11 news channels, a weather channel, comedy channels, sports channels, and various entertainment and lifestyle channels appealing to a variety of niche interests including true crime, food, technology, science, history and programming for kids that includes cartoons. There are also a variety of music channels.
The quality of the programming ranges from pretty good to not bad; the only section that strikes me as being weak are the sports channels.
There’s a section where you can watch movies and TV shows on demands. Many of the movies and shows aren’t there very long, so if you want to watch something, don’t put it off.
Kanopy is another movie service offered by public libraries; it specializes on foreign movies, independent productions and other films of interest to serious cinema buffs.
The catch is you’ll have to find a library that offers it; most local libraries don’t. I access it via my card from the Cuyahoga County Public Library. The Milan-Berlin library has it, however, so if you are a big movie buff, get a card from those folks.
Another site that offers TV shows and movies. I particularly like it because it has re-runs of the Seinfeld TV show.
There are lots of apps that offer old movies, taking advantage of the fact that many of them have gone into the public domain and are no longer under copyright.
The Old Movies app is the one I have on my phone; last Christmas, I watched the 1935 movie “Scrooge.”
Many of the movies on the app probably are deservedly forgotten, but among the ones I have saved on the app to watch soon are “Stagecoach,” considered a classic western; Orson Welles’ “The Stranger” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound.”