How to watch Best Movies & TV Shows Online

From free movies to Ultra HD 4K rentals, here are the best sites online for blockbuster entertainment.

No matter what your budget, there’s never been a better time to be a movie nerd. The market is flooded with movie streaming sites, all of which are sharing massive catalogs of every kind of film imaginable. With so many options, figuring out what are the best movie streaming sites can be a pain.

Fear not. We’re not strangers to cord-cutting. We’ve spent countless hours using the services detailed below. No matter what you’re looking for, we’ll help you find it. Here are the best sites for streaming movies, whether you’re willing to pay or you want to watch for free.

The average cable bill in the U.S. costs $107 per month, so it’s not surprising that consumers are looking for ways to watch TV and movies online for free. We spent a month researching the best free (and legal) streaming sites out there, and ranked them from best to worst, with two picks specifically for free TV streaming at the very end. We’d recommend downloading as many of these as you can onto your streaming device or TV of choice. That way, when you search for a specific movie or show, you can see if it’s available anywhere for free before you pay to rent it.

We’ll be honest: A lot of the movies on these sites are duds that companies like Netflix and Hulu deemed unworthy of paying for. Be prepared to see plenty of names you recognize in titles you don’t. (Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman’s “Trespass,” for example, pops up on just about every one.) That said, we were shocked at how good some of these services are — particularly the ones at the top of the list. If you’re looking to cut out cable or paid streaming services, these are worthy replacements.

The best of the best
The best free streaming sites have libraries with thousands of shows and movies that rival paid services like Netflix and Hulu. These are our favorites.

1) Hoopla (WATCH NOW)
Hoopla brings your library’s vast collection of movies and TV shows straight to your TV. It’s owned by Midwest Tape, a distributor of DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks that works exclusively with libraries in North America. Because libraries pay for the service, its catalogue is better than just about any other service out there — even rivalling paid services like Netflix and Hulu — and you can watch movies ad-free.

What it’s best for: Just about everything. Hoopla received top marks in our evaluation for documentaries, classics, drama, and horror, but its enormous collection means its solid across the board. And lest you forget this is a library service, it also has tons of great self-improvement videos for things like exercising, cooking, and learning to play instruments.
What it’s missing: There are no glaring weak spots in Hoopla’s library, but it didn’t have quite as many new releases as Kanopy. If you’re looking to catch up on Oscar contenders, we’d try that first.
Available on: Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast

2) Tubi TV (WATCH NOW)
Tubi has an absolutely massive selection of movies, with more of an emphasis on blockbusters compared to Hoopla’s critically acclaimed titles. Despite its huge number of movies, it’s not overwhelming to search through, as you can sort by 54 categories like “Highly Rated on Rotten Tomatoes” and “Not on Netflix” to help cut down aimless browsing.

What it’s best for: No matter what you’re in the mood for, you’ll probably be able to find it on Tubi. It especially stood out in the Family category, with popular titles like “Paddington,” “Hugo,” and “All Dogs Go to Heaven.” It also has an incredible number of 2000s reality TV shows if you’re in the mood for some nostalgia.
What it’s missing: Like Hoopla, we didn’t have many quibbles with Tubi’s selection, but we did score it behind Kanopy when it came to new releases.
Available on: Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, PlayStation 4

3) Kanopy (WATCH NOW)
Like Hoopla, you’ll need a library card to access Kanopy. And like Hoopla, that gives it one of the most impressive collections of free movies you’ll find. But Kanopy skews more towards serious fare rather than blockbusters. It’s the college library to Hoopla’s local branch — more international, more arthouse, and more film history. It also has thousands of educational videos on topics like business, communications, and global studies.

What it’s best for: If the words “Criterion Collection” mean anything to you, we recommend Kanopy. It has a broad range of quality movies, but it specializes in arthouse, foreign, and classic films. It also received our top score for new releases, with recent Oscar nominees like “First Reformed,” “Moonlight,” and “Lady Bird.”
What it’s missing: Kanopy isn’t your best option if you’re looking for comedy or family movies, and it’s also pretty bare bones when it comes to TV shows.
Available on: Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast

4) Vudu (WATCH NOW)
Vudu is mostly known as a video rental service, but it also has more than 3,000 movies and 250 TV shows available to stream for free with ads. Where most free streaming sites inflate their numbers with B-movie filler, Vudu’s free titles are surprisingly well-known.
Sometimes you want to stream a movie without signing up for a service. Vudu is the online rental solution, offering up the lowest prices with high-quality video content, including 4K movies. Vudu’s “still in theaters” section allows you to catch new indie movies before they hit home video. Even better, Vudu also features hundreds of movies that can be watched for free if you’re willing to sit through ads.

What it’s best for: Browsing through Vudu is like walking into the video store from your childhood. It seems to exist entirely in the 1985-2005 range, with all the action, horror, and comedies to tickle your nostalgia bone. And if you’re watching with the kids, Vudu also has one of the largest selections of family movies we came across.
What it’s missing: Don’t look to Vudu for new — or especially serious — movies.
Available on: Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, PlayStation 4

5) IMDb Freedive (WATCH NOW)
In early January 2019, Amazon launched IMDb Freedive, a free TV streaming service to supplement Prime Video. While it’s library is pretty small — a little over 200 movies by our count — it synchronizes nicely with IMDb’s platform. If you use IMDb to look up a movie, for example, there’s a distinct banner saying it’s available on Freedive.

What it’s best for: Freedive has a great selection of dramas, comedies, and action movies. Even though it doesn’t have as many titles overall as some free streaming sites, it’s refreshingly free of fluff, so you won’t have to waste too much time searching.
What it’s missing: There are virtually no classics, foreign films, and indies on Freedive, and it’s also pretty light on documentaries and horror. You won’t find any movies released within the past few years, either.
Available on: Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox One, PlayStation 4

6) Sony Crackle (WATCH NOW)
Crackle’s ad-supported service lets you watch movies as long as you can tolerate commercial breaks. We say tolerate because Crackle feels like it has more ads than the other services on this list. Thankfully it makes up for it with a bizarre array of 80s, 90s, and 00s oddities. Crackle is the kind of service that serves up Phone Booth,The Adams Family, and the TV movie of Stephen King’s It, while producing original movies like Joe Dirt 2. It often feels as if a drunken college kid is programming it, but the results are entertaining.

The founding father of free TV streaming, Crackle was bought by Sony in 2007, and primarily streams Sony’s (and by extension Columbia’s) back catalog of movies. There’s generally a lot of overlap in free streaming libraries — most services have similar movies because they’re cheap or free to license — but because of its exclusive rights to Sony movies, Sony Crackle’s 200 movies usually aren’t on other free sites.

What it’s best for: While its library is modest, Sony Crackle has a surprising amount of classic comedies. Both Ace Ventura movies, “Superbad,” and “Sleepless in Seattle” are all available.
What it’s missing: Skip Sony Crackle if you’re looking for serious movies — you won’t find many Oscar winners or documentaries here.
Available on: Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, PlayStation 4

7) Roku Channel (WATCH NOW)
The Roku Channel is a free add-on to all Roku devices, and has a smattering of TV shows and movies if you’re in a pinch. It’s unique in that it also has 19 live TV channels. You probably haven’t heard of them, but they show up a lot in live streaming services you have to pay for, so it’s nice that Roku includes them for free.

What it’s best for: The Roku Channel has a decent number of dramas, particularly when it comes to past Oscar winners: “Capote,” “Monster,” and “Gahndi” are all up as of this writing. You can also find some solid horror movies, although they get pretty low-budget after the top 10 or so (withholding judgment on “Shark Attack 3” while we catch up on the first two).
What it’s missing: Family movies and new releases are non-existent on the Roku Channel, and the comedy section is pretty bleak, too.

8) Popcornflix (WATCH NOW)
At first glance, you might expect Popcornflix to be just another site for B- and C-grade crap, but a closer examination shows unexpected treasures like Secretary and John Ford’s Stagecoach. Thanks to a deal with Shout! Factory TV, Popcornflix also has a shockingly good horror section. If you’re willing to explore, there’s plenty to love here. Just expect to pass through a lot of John Cusack films you’ve never heard of to find them.

Popcornflix the place to go if you’re looking for your favorite star’s most obscure movies (Channing Tatum in “Battle in Seattle,” anyone?). It’s a pretty weird service to navigate, with categories like “bro movies” and “old school cool.” We were also a little dubious of the “Popcornflix Originals” stamp — the streaming service somehow claims the 2003 Oscar winner Monster as its own.

What it’s best for: Popcornflix has a deep roster of horror movies, including parts three through eight of the Friday the 13th series, a handful from icons like Hitchcock and John Carpenter, and newer horror classics like “Zodiac.” It also has a ton of family movies, but a lot of them seem to be knockoffs of beloved Disney movies.
What it’s missing: Popcornflix has almost nothing released this decade, and most of its movies never saw a theater to begin with.
Available on: Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox One

9) YouTube Movies (WATCH NOW)
If the only thing you’ve ever used YouTube for is watching music videos or vlogs, you’re in luck. Films in the public domain are free to watch on YouTube and completely legal. Then there’s the murkier side of YouTube. Whether the movie studios like it or not, it’s become one of the largest movie streaming for movies in the world. Users have uploaded hundreds of thousands of movies onto the site; you just have to look carefully to find them.

They’re a little difficult to find, but YouTube does have a little over 100 movies to stream legally and for free

What it’s best for: YouTube has a decent amount of documentaries streaming for free, with an emphasis on bios of celebrities like Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and Kanye West.
What it’s missing: Pretty much everything else. You might be able to find a random title that piques your interest, but most of those are also available on the free streaming sites listed above.
Available on: Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, PlayStation 4

The best sites for free TV shows

10) Pluto TV (WATCH NOW)
Pluto TV is unique among free streaming sites in that it offers live TV channels. Granted, they’re not what you’d find in most cable subscriptions, but they could provide a reasonable stand-in if you want the experience of channel surfing.

What it’s best for: Most people want live TV for two things: news and sports. On that front, Pluto succeeds pretty well. It has 15 sports channels, including ones like Fox Sports and Stadium that are staples of many live streaming services. We were also impressed by the quality of its 13 news channels, with well-known networks like CBS News, CNBC, and NBC News. It’s also the only free service we saw with on-demand shows from popular channels like Discovery, TLC, and Animal Planet.
What it’s missing: While Pluto has a small-but-mighty movie collection, it’s pretty bare when it comes to action, comedy, and drama.
Available on: Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast

11) Yahoo! View (WATCH NOW)
Yahoo! View is the only streaming service we found that lets you watch new TV series online for free. The five most recent episodes from shows on ABC, NBC, and Fox go up eight days after they originally air on TV and stay up until they’re replaced by newer episodes. Unfortunately, if you want to watch through a streaming device, Yahoo! View is only currently available on Roku.

What it’s best for: Yahoo! View is by far the best way to keep up with network shows without paying for cable or Hulu. Some of the most popular shows on TV — including “This is Us,” “The Good Doctor,” and “Blue Bloods” — are all available on the free streaming service.
What it’s missing: Yahoo! View has a little more than 50 movies, and most of them are pretty obscure. It’s clear that the service prioritizes television over film.
Available on: Roku

The Bottom Line
You might not find everything you’re looking for on these free streaming sites, but they can still be a great way to supplement (or replace) paid options like Netflix and Hulu. We recommend downloading all of them to your streaming device or TV if you can. That way, their libraries will be included every time you search for a movie, so you won’t pay for anything that’s out there for free.

12) Amazon Prime (WATCH NOW)
Amazon Prime is quickly becoming Netflix’s main competitor thanks to its larger film library and incredible original productions. Amazon Studios has produced actual Oscar winners (Manchester by Sea) and nominees (The Big Sick). Thanks to deals with movie studios, it’s also starting to get more new releases than Netflix is direct from theaters. Its interface can be intimidating, mostly due to the size of its library, but Amazon Prime is an incredible service, and it offers movies in stunning 4K Ultra HD.

13) Hulu (WATCH NOW)
Amazon and Netflix might get the focus, but Hulu is an underrated source for great movies. Hulu has deals with some of the same studios as Amazon Prime, leading to a regular overlap in titles on both services for movies fresh from the theater. A recent redesign made navigating through its options a more frustrating experience, mixing movies and TV shows in genres. Still, if you’re willing to do some digging, Hulu has plenty of hits from the last 40 years to keep you watching. Here are the best movies on Hulu, what’s new, the best shows on Hulu, the sexiest movies you can stream on the service, scary movies, Hulu documentaries, anime, and the must-see Hulu originals.

14) Netflix (WATCH NOW)
The leading name in streaming is still the best movie streaming site online, though the competition is closing in fast. Netflix’s smart suggestions learn from your viewing habits, making recommendations based on what you watch and how you rate it. With vast libraries across every genre, Netflix has a little bit of something for everyone in your house, from war movies, documentaries, anime, and indie flicks to true crime and movies based on true stories. The only knock on Netflix is that it’s relatively light on classic movies.

15) Disney+ (WATCH NOW)
Hands down the best place to catch Disney movies, Disney+ is also your place to go for Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic content.

If you’re looking for movies right out of theaters, HBO Now is invaluable, with new releases dropping every Saturday. HBO’s original movies and documentaries are award-winning in their own right and provide months of viewing options on their own. HBO Now is an A+ movie streaming service, and it’s even cheaper as an add-on service. Here are the best ways to watch HBO online.

17) Crackle (WATCH NOW)
Sure, lots of the movies available are totally random, but you can’t argue with free, can you?

18) iTunes (WATCH NOW)
If a movie is available to rent or buy, iTunes probably has it, but you’ll have to download it if you don’t have Apple TV.

19) Shudder (WATCH NOW)
For horror fans, there’s no service that offers a bigger selection or hidden gems than Shudder. Over the last year, the service has expanded its focus on dark cinema in general, adding more crime and psychological thrillers to its usual assortment of slashers and ghouls. If it goes bump in the night, Shudder has it.

20) FilmStruck (WATCH NOW)
FilmStruck is Netflix for cinephiles, gathering together a library of hard to find but critically celebrated classics designed to enrich your film knowledge. If Netflix’s focus on modern cinema leaves you bored, FilmStruck brings repertory theater right into your living room. Splurge and get the Criterion add-on (bringing your total subscription cost to $10.99 per month), if only for the exclusive samurai movies.

21) Showtime (WATCH NOW)
On paper, there’s no real difference between HBO and Showtime. However, a closer look at Showtime’s library shows the service has a surprising number of indie hits populating its channels. While competitors like HBO and Starz chase big blockbusters, Showtime’s collection is full of dramas and smaller-scale major releases. Showtime also has the strongest horror section of any premium movie channel turned streaming movie site.

22) Starz (WATCH NOW)
Starz is the best deal among the premium movie channels turned streaming sites. For just $8.99 per month (or less if you get it as an add-on through DirecTV Now or Hulu), Starz gives you a host of blockbusters and a surprisingly vast collection of classic movies from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. While it hasn’t entered the original movie space yet, Starz’s original series are on par with HBO and Showtime. Here’s our regularly updated guide to the best movies on Starz.

23) Sundance Now (WATCH NOW)
Where FilmStruck is a goldmine for fans of classic cinema, Sundance now fills the same niché for modern independent cinema lovers. That’s not to say there aren’t classic films to be found here too, but the vast majority of Sundance Now’s library is from the indie cinema of the ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s. If you’re looking for Wes Anderson’s early work or a film from 2010 Best of the Year list, Sundance Now is your best bet.

24) SnagFilms (WATCH NOW)
Documentary lovers on a budget need look no further than the archives of SnagFilms to get their fix. This ad-supported free movie site also includes a small sampling of top-shelf indie films, but the main draw of its 5,000-films-deep library is the incredible number of documentaries it offers. Sports, politics, racial history, business, religion, scandal: SnagFilms has stories on every topic you can imagine. Most importantly, its ads never feel oppressive, popping in occasionally without ever overwhelming the experience.

25) Viewster (WATCH NOW)
Viewster has the kind of site any movie fan could fall deeply in love with. It’s ad-free and movies stream in high definition. It’s a shame it doesn’t have more selection right now. Its live action section is largely terrible z-horror films, but viewers who are interested in anime should make a point to check out the site. What it lacks in modern live-action films, it makes up for with important classic anime like Fist of the North Star, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, and Lily C.A.T. Hopefully one day the rest of the site catches up.

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