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10 best free video streaming services for cord cutters

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Streaming killed the Blu-Ray
Samsung is discontinuing its Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray player lines. That’s lousy news for people who love older TV shows and movies.

When cord-cutting became a thing, it was all about saving money. Today, cord-cutting costs are catching up with cable. Indeed, with Disney Plus coming, with its must-watch package of Marvel Universe, Star Wars, and Disney films, plus internet TV streaming services like AT&T DirecTV Now drastically raising its prices, I can easily see a cord cutter’s total viewing bill crossing the $100-a-month barrier. 

Fortunately, there are some answers.

There’s at least one inexpensive TV-bundling service: Philo TV. At $16 a month for three simultaneous streams of 45 popular channels, it’s a steal. But, if you can live with commercials, there are at least 10 good free streaming services to try.

Cord cutting on the cheap

First, get a Roku

To access most of these streaming servcies, you’ll need an up-to-date Roku streaming device. A big reason why I recommend Roku is it gives you access to more online-streaming services than any of the others. To find these, check out the Roku Channel Store

For example, if you can’t put up a TV antenna for over-the-air (OTA) shows, many stations have their own local news Roku apps. These include FOX25 Boston, WSB Atlanta, and WGN Chicago.

In addition, there are literally hundreds of more obscure channels. Want to stream stuff for your cat? Your dog? Want to watch 50s TV shows? Practice yoga? Follow technology news with CNET? It’s all there — and it’s all free.

Next, try private channels

There are also private Roku channels, which are not listed on the Roku Channel Store. To add these, you’ll must manually enter their channel access codes. The best of these let you watch The Internet Archive’s public domain videos. The best known of private channel had been Nowhere TV with a hodgepodge of content, but it’s no longer available in the US.

While private channels can be fun, be wary of them. Roku doesn’t support or vet these networks. Some content may be pirated, or they may disappear from one day to another.

Now check out these free streaming services

The networks below are legal, stable, and will likely to be available for years to come.

Hoopla and Kanopy

The first two — Hoopla and Kanopy — require you to have a library card with a library system that supports either of them. Their offerings aren’t quite identical, but they both offer high-end movies and documentaries. They also come with a lot of PBS titles and The Great Courses (a personal favorite). Hoopla also offers ebooks and music, while Kanopy comes with movies from the Criterion Collection.

Unfortunately, you probably can’t get both services. Darn it!

Crackle

Crackle is perhaps the best-known free streaming TV and movie service. Sponsored by Sony, Crackle boasts TV shows and movies from the 80s through the 00s. You’ll also find newer films on it sometimes, as well as bit of original content such as StartUp, a dark show about technology companies. Call it organized crime 2.0. It’s a hidden gem of a show with actors such as Martin Freedman, Ronald Perlman, and Adam Brody. Give Crackle and StartUp a try.

IMDb Freedive

Everyone knows about Amazon Prime Video. It’s a great add-on if you’re already an Amazon Prime customer. But, did you know Amazon also offers a commercial-driven free video service? Well, now you do. It’s IMDb Freedive. This is a video-on-demand (VoD) service. It features older TV shows including Fringe, Heroes, The Bachelor, and Without a Trace and commercial movies such as Awakenings, Memento, Monster, The Illusionist, and Groundhog Day.

IMDb Freedrive is only available in the US. It’s also the only free channel not available on Roku. You can either watch it on your computer or with an Amazon Fire TV device.

FilmRise

For another good free VoD network check out FilmRise. Its movies tend to be more obscure, but it offers a good selection of popular TV shows such as Third Rock from the Sun, Cybill, and Roseanne.

Pluto TV

You may already know about Pluto TV. If offers access to dozens of other streaming networks with a single interface. Some of these “channels” aren’t that interesting, but then, there are others, like Mystery Science Theater 3000 (classic MST3K shows), The Onion, and RiffTrax, which bring a smile to my face. Give it a look. I’ll bet you’ll find something you like, too.

Viacom is buying Pluto TV, however, so I’m not sure how much longer Pluto TV will be free.

The Roku Channel

Roku is also offering its own network now: The Roku Channel. It borrows free movies and TV shows from other streaming networks and its own free content. It offers a mix of older and current TV shows and films. One interesting twist is you can watch these not only with your Roku but on the web via  The Roku Channel for the web.

Tubi TV

TubI TV is one of the better free VoD services. It comes with perhaps the biggest video library, with 7,000 titles. That’s thanks to its access to Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount Pictures, and Starz Digital’s libraries. If you register, which I recommend you do, you can resume play from where you stopped to let in the cat. For a free service, that’s a nice benefit.

Vudu

You probably know Vudu as Walmart’s online rental VoD service. What you probably didn’t know is it also offers free movies and shows, with commercials. These are usually older shows  (21 Jump Street and WildFire) and movies (National Lampoon Vacation, Gods of Egypt). But, for free, what’s to argue with?

Xumo

Finally, Xumo is a lot like Pluto TV. It others a wide variety of networks with an even wider variety of shows. If you’re a golfer, you’ll like that Xumo is the first network to carry the  PGA Tour’ new streaming channel. One nice feature is that as it learns what shows you like and offers you selections it believes you’ll want to watch.

Yes, you do have to put up with commercials on all of these — and there’s no DVR features to be seen. But, they are free, and with so many selections to choose from, I can guarantee you’ll find something to watch that won’t hurt your pocketbook by even a single penny.

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Bob Iger Comments On The Apple Buying Disney Rumors In His Town Hall

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Disney’s CEO Bob Iger has publicly dispelled any rumors Apple is going to merge with the mouse-centered media giant. During a town hall with Disney employees, Iger described talk of an Apple takeover as “pure speculation” (via The Hollywood Reporter). While these rumors have been dismissed, talk of Apple acquiring Disney is nothing new. Iger himself had previously talked about a possible merger with the tech giant. In a 2021 interview with CNBC, the then retired Disney CEO speculated that Apple and Disney would have merged had Steve Jobs not died in 2011. Iger spoke about Jobs’ love of combining technology and creativity before talking about the hypothetical takeover. He said: “I’m pretty convinced we would have had that discussion. I think we would have gotten there,” (via 9to5Mac).

Iger did confirm some major Disney news during the call, though it isn’t as exciting as a merger between two of the world’s largest companies. He said that a hiring freeze put in place by his predecessor, Bob Chapek, will remain. Iger also confirmed that, as well as not being acquired, Disney had no plans to acquire any other companies during his second tenure. Disney has made a number of high-profile acquisitions over the years, with several of its most notable occurring during Iger’s first stint as CEO.

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The Secret Photos Feature That Makes Your Hidden And Recently Deleted Photos More Secure

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Much like with Notes, you can now set passwords for the Hidden and Recently Deleted albums in Photos and keep them locked and secure. This MacOS Ventura feature is enabled by default. You would be required to key in your Mac computer’s login password or use Touch ID to gain access to either of the two albums.

This is especially useful for people who regularly transfer photos into a secret space within the Photos app so that other people who may have access to the machine won’t be able to snoop and view private shots that easily. You can keep photos from being displayed in your library by following these steps:

  1. Launch the Photos app.
  2. From the sidebar, hit “Library.”
  3. Pick the photo or group of photos you’d like to conceal.
  4. Choose “Image” from the menu bar that runs along the top of the computer screen, then hit “Hide [number] Photos.”
  5. Click “Hide” to finalize.

Marked photos will then be moved into the “Hidden” photos folder, which can be accessed by going to “Library” again in the sidebar and hitting “View” from the menu bar in order to “Show Hidden Photo Album.” Since the password-lock feature is automatically turned on for the secret folder on MacOS Ventura, you may be required to enter your login password or use Touch ID (if you have it set up) to display hidden photos again.

In addition to hidden photos being password protected, other users who hop on your Mac computer will not be able to just check out or recover any newly deleted photos. Photos that were moved into the Recently Deleted album can be restored and moved back into the main Photos library within the period of time stated for each file.

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Sony Just Kicked Off A Huge ‘End Of Year’ Sale On PS4, PS5 Games

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In all, there are just over 800 items on sale across both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. Not everything is games, however, as there are some expansions, add-on packs, and other forms of DLC that are also included in the savings. Filtering out the extras, it’s closer to 600 (573 or so) games and game bundles.

There is, of course, plenty of older stuff in the mix like 2013’s “Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag,” “Knack,” and “Murdered: Soul Suspect” (wow, remember that one?). But there are also a fair number of newer titles that are being discounted as well. If you were curious about “Gotham Knights” or you really want the X-Factor Edition of “NHL 23,” both are up for grabs at around 50% off. But if you want something that moves a little faster, there’s also the Digital Deluxe version of “Sonic Frontiers” for 30% off ($48.99).

If you want to check out the full list, you can find it over at the PlayStation Store or hop onto the online shop via your PS4 or PS5 console. Just look for “End of Year Deals,” or open the intrusive ad Sony most likely dropped in your system’s main menu.

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