There’s no such thing as a free lunch, right? Wrong!
Well, there might not be such thing as a free lunch, as the old saying goes, but as we’re discussing today, there are plenty of streaming services with masses of great shows and movies that won’t cost you a penny.
With so many services demanding a share of your hard-earned cash, we’re often left wondering which way we should head for the best options, whatever genre or style floats each of our boats, and how much we want to pay—if anything.
StreamLocator has cracked over 20 free services so far. Don’t be fooled into thinking just because their content is free that it’s not worth watching. Many are ad-supported services, delivering irresistible blockbuster and classic viewing.
Free streaming services you can access using StreamLocator, to date:
|ITV Hub||Adult Swim|
|Zattoo (Germany & Switzerland)||Pluto TV|
|The Roku Channel (US & UK)||Plex|
We’ve broken our list into what we think are the most relevant categories for most of our viewers, and taken a deeper look into who’s got what you’re looking for.
Best free streaming services for movies
As you know, StreamLocator allows access to plenty of channels right around the globe. When it comes to getting your fill of movies, and without dipping into your pocket to pay for them, we’ve got plenty some great suggestions that deliver just that.
While you may not get the bang-up-to-date cinema release movies that some subscription services offer, or the craved own content from Netflix, Prime, or Disney, what you will get is an excellent selection of sensational, edge-of-your-seat movies.
But which of these striking list of providers are our top picks?
1. Free movies on Peacock
We thought we’d get it out of the way early in the fight. It’s hard to argue with the shows and movies that NBC has provided for every avid lover of TV in each and every genre. 13,000 hours of incredible content that includes cult favorites from 30 Rock to Parks and Recreation.
But let’s not forget—we’re here to talk movies.
Rotten Tomatoes compiled a list of Peacock’s best movies, and there’s plenty to go at—with over 70 titles in their list.
Everything on the list scores over 70% in the RT rating system, with the number one movie scoring a massive 99%. If you haven’t seen Starred-Up yet, it’s time to head over to Peacock and find out what all the commotion is about.
The Peacock top 10 highest rated movies, according to Rotten Tomatoes, looks like this:
- Short Term 12
- T. The Extra-Terrestrial
- Chicken Run
- Schindler’s List
- Love, Antosha
- Good Hair
If you look at those that narrowly missed the top 10, the titles from 10 to 20, they’re just as strong, if not stronger for my taste. There isn’t a single movie there that I wouldn’t bang on in an instant. And at #21 it’s a travesty that The Breakfast Club didn’t even make the top 20! It’s an absolute classic.
2. Everything and anything in movies from the UK big 4
If you live outside the UK, you’ll know how much pull its TV has over the rest of the world. They are the masters of period dramas, earthy soap operas, and are in a league of their own when it comes to the darkest of comedies.
The staple channels all have streaming services, and they’re all free to view.
Although none of these are stand-alone movie channels, they harbor a rich selection of ‘films’.
All 4 is bustling with titles, including many from its Film 4 channel. There are some brilliant British options as well as those from elsewhere around the world. Fancy a night in watching Instant Family, The Woman in the Fifth, or Donkey Punch? Get yourselves plugged into All 4 and everything’s good to go.
The Beeb, however, who won’t disrupt your viewing with ads and promos, also have plenty for movie buffs to dig into. Beautiful Boy, The Mole, The Windermere Children and The White Crow are some of the currently featured films. There are plenty of classic movies, too, for a superb night on the sofa (why not try Interview With The Vampire or All The President’s Men).
3. Free movies on Tubi
Tubi gathers content from some of the giants in movie-making. With Paramount Pictures, MGM, Lionsgate, Warner Bros., and Universal Pictures in the line-up, there’s no shortage of blockbuster movies for the even the hungriest of viewers.
Head over to JustWatch to get the full line-up. The current most-popular titles feature Donnie Darko, Memento, The Master and Train to Busan.
I took a quick scroll down the first few pages, and I’m already tempted to call in sick for work for the next few weeks. The range of genres is incredible. I wouldn’t know where to start. They seem to have everything from Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Some Like It Hot—and everything and anything in between.
Pass me the popcorn and shut off the lights …
Best free streaming services for TV shows
Once again, we understand the pull the UK big 4 (BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, and My5) has over the rest of the world, and they perform better than ever when it comes to what we love about TV.
Admittedly, a lot of British content is available over many of the other StreamLocator streaming services, but why not go straight to the horse’s mouth—it’s all free and ripe for the picking, after all.
1. TV Shows on BBC iPlayer
Where else are you going to find such a diverse mix that includes Eastenders, RuPaul’s UK Drag Race, and The Serpent? And that’s only skimming the surface.
iPlayer delivers drama like no other. Black Narcissus, Years and Years, Luther, Sherlock, Peaky Blinders, and if you haven’t seen I Will Destroy You yet, where have you been?
If you’re in the minority to not have sat on edge through each twist and turn of such a brilliantly written and performed program, then you probably haven’t heard the talk about Normal People either.
Seriously. Where have you been? Head over to the BBC iPlayer now and get yourselves caught up.
2. TV Shows on Pluto TV
What’s brilliant about Pluto TV is that it works like regular TV. Okay, so it’s streamed over the Internet but what you get is a great big list of ‘live’ TV channels.
You get the channel hopping option for those who can’t put down the remote, and, for those who don’t want the fuss of a live stream, there are still plenty of on-demand titles to pick your way through.
With 250 channels to pick from—many dedicated to a particular show—there’s plenty to work your way through.
Have you got a sudden urge to watch every Star Trek episode? All your favorite AMC shows (think The Walking Dead, Into the Badlands, and Halt and Catch Fire)? What about bingeing through old episodes of Dr Who, Hell’s Kitchen, or CSI?
Pluto’s got you covered. If you want an idea of their range, you can pick from Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and Court TV—even with just those few options, we’re sure you’ll find something for each member of the family.
3. TV Shows on Adult Swim
Okay, I’m going to get it in the neck for this one.
Whereas the BBC iPlayer (and the other UK streaming services) offer a more mainstream array of what the typical viewer is looking for, then right at (or even ‘off’) the other end of the scale is Adult Swim.
Adult Swim is adult content for adults who forgot they were adults. If you think Family Guy (which you can still find on Adult Swim) is a little too much for you, or that Fleabag (possibly some of the best black comedy the BBC ever produced) is still a bit ‘out there’, then you ought to skip right on past Adult Swim.
Many of the most popular titles should give the game away alone: Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell, Black Jesus, and Momma Made Me Sheriff, are all the type of immature entertainment those with a darker and more twisted sense of humor relax and unwind to.
It has its share of sitcoms, adult animations, spoofs, and satires. Each more twisted than the last.
If you’re above such nonsense—as I’m certain many of you will be—and prefer something with a little more culture and class, our next category is probably more aligned with your TV viewing tastes.
Best free streaming services for documentaries
1. Documentaries on PBS
PBS is a non-profit, publicly funded US TV station that describes itself as ‘America’s largest classroom, stage, and trusted window to the world.’
It’s a bold claim, but it definitely puts its money where its mouth is—so you don’t have to.
PBS is full of documentaries, educational dramas, historical series, art, culture, and international viewing. 2020 has been one thumper of a year worldwide, and PBS has been there to document every minute. Current affairs coverage includes everything from COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement, to Trump vs Biden, and the Chinese government’s mass surveillance monitoring.
Given a generous share of its content comes from the UK, you’ll find some of its content available on All 4 and BBC iPlayer too.
It’s not all purely news-based and educational, though. Dip in and out of your favorite episodes of Downton Abbey, American Family and Journey of Dreams, when you’re all ‘documentaried’ out.
Every day’s a school day, as they say …
2. Documentaries on BBC iPlayer
Wired put together a list of the 40 best documentaries you need to watch, back in September 2020. Out of that 40, 7 were BBC iPlayer programs.
That might not sound like too many, but given there was only one show from All 4 (Leaving Neverland), the rest were predominantly Netflix, Prime, or YouTube features.
BBC iPlayer is one of the most consistent free services when it comes to amazing documentary programming.
An abundance of stunning content came from the BBC’s Natural History Unit with Sir David Attenborough. Seven Worlds, One Planet was huge. Attenborough features again with both series of the award-winning Blue Planet—the underwater exploration of our seas, reefs, and their animals.
Another legendary British filmmaker to make the Wired Top 40 is Louis Theroux—this time with Altered States and Mothers on the Edge.
If you head over to BBC iPlayer, there are over 46 episodes of Theroux’s documentary films available. He covers everything from the American criminal justice system, anorexia and eating disorders, to the LA porn scene, America’s most dangerous pets, and all kinds of investigations into drug culture.
3. Documentaries on My5 and All 4
My5 and All 4 each have a complete category dedicated to documentaries with hundreds of episodes to choose from.
As you’d expect from channels with a different demographic to the BBC, they’ve got some belters—and many, far more pop-culture based than political.
Try My5 for Autopsy: Whitney Houston’s Last Hours, Babies at 50, Alien Contact: Secret Societies, Death Row Stories, or if you’re looking for opposite ends of the spectrum, why not watch Diana: Queen of Hearts? and then Dick Emery’s Comedy Gold back-to-back?
You’ll be reaching for the gin for very different reasons …
All 4 brings us all the regular mainstream shows, including The Undateables (a personal favorite), The Secret Life of the Zoo, 24 Hours in A&E, and One Born Every Minute, plus a selection of specials such as Dogging Tales, Feral Families, and 100 Kilo Kids: Obesity SOS. Just look at that, there really is something for everyone.
Other honorable documentary mentions go to …
Both Tubi and Crackle have catered for our education seekers, with a generous provision of documentary viewing and educational programming.
Best free streaming services for concerts
I’m always surprised to see that more channels don’t offer a music category in their line-up. There are always the staples: entertainment and drama, sport, news, films/movies, lifestyle, etc., but what about those dedicated music fans? And there are millions out there, that’s for sure.
1. Streaming concerts and music on BBC iPlayer
It just goes to show just how good the BBC is at what it does. I guess with their expanse of services (a wide-range of all-encompassing TV and radio channels) they have access to more content, which nearly all makes its way through to their iPlayer.
Every taste is catered for, from teen-pop sensations to classical opera.
Other honorable music and concert mentions go to …
Although, its primary function is a streaming radio service, there are plenty of podcasts and music shows on Pandora.
While you might not track down the concerts and shows you crave from your favorite bands and artists, searching for playlists and podcasts is incredibly straightforward. There’s some real gold in there to be had if you’re ready to get digging.
Best free streaming services for new releases titles
Pluto scores well for new releases as it delivers live TV channels as opposed to licensed on-demand content.
Peacock is another service that offers a handful of live TV channels, so if your show is on any of those, then you can stay bang up to date. Much of their original programming features in their free tier, so keep an eye out for new episodes of your favorites added to their listings.
Tubi has its own recently added category, so you can see precisely which releases are available from their service and just how recent they are.
Once again, we have to praise the UK’s big 4—BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, and My5. As soon as a new show hits the screens, you can guarantee they’ll be in their streaming service catalogues.
One of the many advantages of choosing their streaming services to watch their latest offerings is that more often than not, you’ll be able to binge the full season or series before they’ve aired on their respective TV channels. Who wants to wait for one episode a week anymore? Not us, that’s for sure. Send us the season in one good hit.
Now that’s how to watch TV …