Are you looking to cut the cord from expensive cable and satellite subscriptions? Thanks to free TV streaming apps, ditching traditional pay TV is easier than ever. This guide will overview 11 of the top free streaming apps to watch live TV, sports events, news coverage and on-demand shows without breaking the bank.
As an experienced analyst in streaming media and devices, I‘ve tested and reviewed all the most popular free TV apps available in 2022. I‘ll provide an in-depth look at each service, outlining their key features, content libraries, platform availability and overall value. My goal is to help you find the best free streaming options to replace cable TV based on your viewing preferences.
The Benefits of Free TV Streaming Apps
Before jumping into the recommendations, let‘s look at why free streaming apps are becoming so popular:
- Cost savings – No equipment rentals, taxes, contracts or hidden fees. Just an internet connection needed.
- No commitments – Sign up and cancel anytime with no penalties.
- On-demand content – Access thousands of movies, shows and episodes whenever you want.
- Live streaming – Watch news, sports, events and channels in real-time.
- Latest releases – New movies and shows are quickly added for streaming.
- Original programming – Apps like Pluto and Tubi create unique, exclusive shows.
- Mobility – Stream over wifi on phones, tablets, laptops and TV devices.
- Simplicity – Intuitive apps with one-click streaming.
According to eMarketer, over 31% of US households are expected to cancel cable in favor of streaming apps this year. This shift is being driven by the convenient viewing experience and extensive content libraries these free apps provide.
Now let‘s look at the top free streaming services across five categories:
Overall Best Free Streaming Experience: Pluto TV
Pluto TV has firmly positioned itself as the market leader in free streaming television. The app provides over 250 live TV channels spanning categories like movies, entertainment, news, sports, comedy and more.
Pluto‘s channel lineup mimics the cable TV experience. There‘s an intuitive channel guide, familiar channel numbers, and a diverse mix of content. You can seamlessly flip between channels just like regular cable.
In addition to live TV, Pluto has a massive on-demand library with over 100,000 hours of movies, shows, and viral videos available to watch for free. The service contains ads to cover costs, but far fewer than regular TV.
With a cable-like interface, extensive live TV and endless on-demand libraries, Pluto TV provides the most polished and well-rounded free streaming experience.
- 250+ live TV channels
- 100,000+ hours on-demand video
- Intuitive channel guide
- Chromecast support
- Available on all devices
Best for Live Sports: CBS Sports
For streaming live sporting events, the CBS Sports app is a must-have. It provides access to thousands of live games including NFL football, PGA Tour events, Champions League soccer, college basketball and much more. Fans can watch top-tier sports action from CBS and associated networks.
In addition to live coverage, the CBS Sports app is stacked with on-demand highlights, analysis, news, stats and scores. You can get video highlights for MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA, PGA Tour, and more within seconds of events happening. Tailor the experience by customizing alerts for your favorite teams.
CBS Sports does require TV provider authentication for some events like NFL games. But overall, it‘s a robust (and free!) streaming option for sports fans.
- Live games from NCAA, NFL, UEFA, PGA, etc.
- 24/7 live sports news
- Video highlights & analysis
- Customizable alerts
- Supported platforms: iOS, Android, Fire TV, Roku
Best for Kids: PBS Kids
The PBS Kids Video app is a parent-approved way for children to stream free educational programming on-demand. It provides over 1,000 ad-free episodes and clips featuring iconic shows like Sesame Street, Arthur, Cyberchase, Dinosaur Train and Nature Cat.
Kids can watch full episodes or shorter clips on their own in a safe, commercial-free environment. The app also has over 100 learning games to help reinforce STEM and literacy skills through interactive songs, puzzles and activities.
As you‘d expect with PBS, the video content is high quality and educational. For parents wanting a trusted source of children‘s programming, PBS Kids is a top streaming choice.
- 1,000+ videos and episodes
- 100+ learning games
- Parental controls
- No ads or in-app purchases
- Trusted PBS characters
Best for Live News: CBS News
The CBS News streaming app provides live, breaking news coverage from CBS, CBSN and local affiliates. It offers a 24/7 live newscast along with on-demand video clips and stories you can watch free on your streaming devices.
For major events like elections, natural disasters, and global news, CBS News provides uninterrupted live video coverage. You can also set alerts to receive breaking news notifications about your desired topics.
While it contains some ads, the CBS News app delivers reliable, up-to-date journalism. The anchorman-style delivery of CBSN combined with local affiliate reporting make it a go-to news streaming source.
- CBSN 24/7 live newscast
- Local affiliate streams
- Breaking news alerts
- On-demand clips & segments
- Chromecast support
Best Free On-Demand Shows & Movies: Tubi
With over 25,000 movies and TV shows available for free streaming, Tubi stands out as a leader in on-demand libraries. The service has content from nearly every major Hollywood studio including Warner Bros., Paramount and Lionsgate.
While you‘ll see some ads, the streaming library is completely free. There‘s no account signup required. Tubi is available on pretty much any streaming device too.
Whether you‘re a fan of classic movies, comedy specials, cult TV shows or Korean dramas, Tubi has an abundance of free ad-supported options. For the sheer volume of movies and shows, Tubi is a must-have app.
- 25,000+ movies & shows
- Content from major studios
- Limited ads
- Create watchlists
- No signup required
Other Notable Free Streaming Apps
Beyond the main categories above, here are a few other excellent free streaming apps worth mentioning:
- The Roku Channel – Ad-supported movies and shows streaming only on Roku devices.
- Plex – Organize your media library and enjoy free live TV channels.
- Crackle – Sony-owned app with Hollywood movies and TV shows with ads.
- IMDbTV – Ad-supported on-demand movies and shows owned by Amazon.
- Peacock – Stream NBCUniversal content like The Office for free with ads.
- Vudu – Walmart‘s ad-supported app with 100,000+ free movies and shows.
- Xumo – Provides over 160 free live TV channels and on-demand libraries.
Key Factors When Selecting the Best Free TV Apps
Here are a few important things to consider when picking free streaming apps for your needs:
Internet speed – Faster broadband connections provide better streaming quality. Aim for at least 25 Mbps download speeds.
Supported devices – Make sure the app is available on your streaming platforms like Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, etc.
New releases – Look for apps that quickly add new movies, shows and episodes after they air.
Original programming – Some apps like Pluto are creating unique, exclusive shows.
Interface – Find an app with an intuitive design for easily discovering and watching content.
Ads – Expect some commercials, but look for apps that don‘t excessively interrupt viewing.
Troubleshooting Free TV Streaming Apps
Here are some tips for troubleshooting common issues with free streaming apps:
- Buffering/quality – Close and re-open the app, restart your device, check internet speeds.
- App crashing – Reinstall the latest version of the app. Delete and add it back if needed.
- Won‘t load content – Ensure the app is updated, uninstall/reinstall if issues persist.
- Can‘t find app – Not all apps are on every platform. Google to see if available on your device.
- Account issues – Reset password if possible, or contact customer support.
Go Stream with the Best Free TV Apps
Cutting cable TV doesn‘t mean you have to lose access to live sports, news and endless on-demand shows. Thanks to free streaming apps like Pluto TV, CBS Sports, PBS Kids and Tubi, you can ditch traditional pay TV services and still watch tons of content online.
Review the key features, content libraries and platform availability for each of my recommended apps above. This will help you find the best free streaming options tailored to your viewing preferences.
With mobile devices and big screen streaming platforms, enjoying free TV app content is quick and convenient. Replace expensive cable packages with these free alternatives to save money while still watching everything you love. Happy streaming!