Cut the Cable Cord in 2021 With 3 Completely Free TV Apps

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If you’ve ever been under a cable contract, you’re probably familiar with the frustrations that can come with it, such as early termination fees, contract renegotiations, limited programming and consistently rising prices

As an alternative, there are many streaming options available, and the number seems to be ever-increasing. Watching your favorite TV shows and discovering new content without paying outrageous prices is now possible with a variety of free TV apps to choose from.

3 Best Free TV Apps for 2021

Read on to discover three of the top completely free TV streaming apps for 2021. Some of these services even offer free live viewing channels. Whether your preference is reality TV, world news, movies or sports, at least one of these free TV apps is bound to satisfy your taste for TV content streaming.

Typically, to access content on these free TV apps, you will need to create an account and be signed in to stream your programs.

1. Tubi

Tubi is one of the leading on-demand video streaming service apps and offers thousands of free TV shows and movies. Tubi claims to have fewer ads than its cable rivals and that the ads allow the programming to remain free for viewers. There is no subscription required.

Make Your Money Work for You

The app is available to download on any device. Once registered and signed in, you can begin enjoying Tubi’s library of over 20,000 television shows and movies immediately. You can browse across 34 genres and also filter content by popular categories such as Featured, Leaving Soon, New Releases and Trending Now.

One of Tubi’s most attractive features is that viewers can browse TV content by network or collections. For example, if you are into Academy Award-winning films, you would click the Award Winners and Nominees category to watch movies such as “Rain Man” or “Excalibur.”

For TV buffs, Tubi offers 14 networks such as A&E, Fox and Lifetime, from which you can choose to watch TV shows made popular by these networks.

2. DistroTV

DistroTV has over 150 live and on-demand channels featuring free movies and TV shows from all over the world. You can watch everything from sports to news, comedy shows and lots of indie programming.

A feature of DistroTV that makes it stand out from other free TV streaming apps is its broad span of original content. Shows include a variety of global interests, categories and topics in multiple languages. Having a diverse mix of genres, DistroTV is bound to appeal to different people and cultures around the world.

Relatively new to the streaming scene, the free DistroTV app has only been around since 2019 and has recently received an average rating (3.3 out of 5) from Amazon users. Some reviewers compare it to Pluto TV, which is next on this list of free TV apps.

3. Pluto TV

Launched in 2014 and acquired by Viacom in 2019, Pluto TV lets cord-cutters and anyone else access over 200 TV and movie channels that are part of the cable TV lineup, such as CNN, A&E, BET and Comedy Central. You may not see every show that you are used to watching on cable, but Pluto TV can certainly be a reasonable substitute for your usual cable television content provider.

One good thing about Pluto TV is that you do not need to set up an account or subscription to use the service. You can simply visit the website or download the app to your desired device and begin watching immediately.

Make Your Money Work for You

If you are an avid sports fan, one drawback of the free Pluto TV app could be that it lacks coverage of live games and only offers DAZN Fight Zone on demand.

How To Access Free TV Apps

Free TV apps can be streamed from almost anywhere, as long as you have a computer or laptop and an internet connection. You can watch free TV shows on the internet from the app’s website or by downloading the apps to a supported device. Some of the most popular streaming devices:

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Apple TV
  • Sony PlayStation
  • Roku
  • Xbox

3 of the Best Paid TV Apps for 2021

If you find that the free TV apps above don’t quite live up to what you’re used to in cable land, you might consider trying one of the following paid TV apps that offer some of the same programming choices — not completely free, but at a lower cost than the average cable service provider.

1. Xumo

Xumo offers over 190 linear live and on-demand channels featuring complete TV series, cartoons, breaking news and live events. With Xumo, you can watch your favorite programs, pause, rewind and channel surf as much as you want.

If you like a particular show that you’re watching on-demand, you can find that channel or network on the live lineup for more of the same entertainment. Xumo prides itself on being a premier source for engaging audiences with information and entertainment — all from its free TV app on your choice of viewing device.

2. Sling TV

Sling TV is one of the more popular cable TV substitute apps that includes familiar cable channels along with live sports and news. Sling TV offers two base services, Sling Orange and Sling Blue, which, altogether with its Spanish-language programming, can provide customers with over 700 channels in entertainment, news and sports.

Pros

  • Sling’s offerings start at $35 per month and there are two no-contract packages available: Sling Orange and Sling Blue
  • Sling Orange provides access to more than 30 channels, such as Disney, ESPN, Freeform, CNN, HGTV and more.
  • Sling Blue broadens the offerings with access to over 45 channels, including FOX (select markets), MSNBC, NBC (select markets), Discovery, FS1 and more.
  • Subscribers of both Slings Orange and Sling Blue, can enjoy a multi-service discount at $50 per month, providing access to over 50 channels.
  • All subscribers receive 50 hours of free DVR storage, with the ability to upgrade for an extra $5 for DVR Plus, which offers 200 hours of storage.

Cons

  • You can only stream the Sling Orange package on one device as opposed to three devices with Sling Blue.
  • There is no all-inclusive viewing package. You have to choose from news and entertainment content — Sling Blue — or sports and family-oriented content  –Sling Orange.

3. YouTube TV

At about twice the cost of Sling TV, you can subscribe to YouTube TV for approximately $65 per month after a seven-day free trial and an introductory price of $55 for the first three months. The TV app offers more than 85 news, entertainment and live sports channels.

Costing about the same as Hulu + Live TV, which has fewer channels to choose from, YouTube TV requires no annual contract, and you can have three simultaneous streams with six accounts per household.

YouTube TV is considered to be most comparable to the average basic cable TV service offerings. Lifestyle content is a focus of the paid TV app, with popular channels such as FX, National Geographic, TLC and the Travel Channel.

Pros

  • No hidden fees like with other traditional cable TV services, such as cancellation, rental box, DVR, local channel and broadcast fees
  • Unlimited cloud DVR storage

Cons

  • Does not offer 4K live streams
  • No live international sports coverage; only national and regional

Good To Know

Some television networks allow viewers to stream specific shows, sometimes full-length episodes in a series, on their websites. Some popular networks that offer free show streaming include the Food Network, HGTV, Fox and the History Channel.

Be aware that there’s usually a catch to having access to this free programming. Most networks require you to sign in with your TV provider to watch live TV on their website. This means that although you can watch for free, you still have to be a paying cable TV subscriber.

Watching TV and movies you enjoy doesn’t have to break your entertainment budget. You can try any of the above paid and free TV apps from the convenience of your smart TV, laptop, tablet, computer or smart device.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

About the Author

Kathy Evans is a personal finance freelance writer and entrepreneur with a technical writing and instructional systems design background. She holds an MS in technical writing and informational design and is currently a doctoral student in instructional technology at Towson University. Through work experience in the federal government as well as commercial and nonprofit industries, she has focused her freelance writing on finance, investing and economic content with a specialization in budget coaching.  

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