The only true replacement for having cable TV is a service built to deliver cable channels. Those are typically the priciest streaming options on the market. They have their value but may not be worth the cost to those who just want to find content they can enjoy and pass the time with. That is why there has been such a rise in the popularity of FASTS. Free Ad-supported Streaming Services. There are a number of them in the marketplace now but there are a few that just do it better than everybody else. For this list we decided to avoid the trope of top 10 listings and just concentrate on the apps we thought would enhance the viewing and enjoyment of streamers everywhere.
Peacock can be tricky to describe because it is a free service and a premium subscription service at the same time. But there is a totally free loan back option built into the app called “channels” that featured 56 24-7 streaming channels built on company-owned content and select partners. For instance, there is a channel dedicated to showing SNL Sketches, a WWE based channel, an NBC sports channel with simulcasts of sports talk radio shows, and more. The company also uses the platform to highlight pop-up channels like (currently) a Downton Abbey Channel that just shows episodes of the series. The Channels section of Peacock is most definitely worth a look.
Pluto TV was one of the first of its kind in the streaming space. And it has stood the test of time. The company was merged with Viacom and later CBS becoming part of Paramount INC in the process. It features one of, if not the deepest, streaming channel lineups available anywhere. The app is searchable, organized and visually pleasing. Its mix includes multiple channels built around major Viacom and CBS properties including free streaming of multiple Nickelodeon programs, content built around MTV, Select shows from Showtime and Paramount+ along with the top independent streaming channels in the marketplace. It is a hub for free news channels, movie channels. sports channels and everything in between. Pluto TV also offers an extensive catalog of on-demand movies and TV shows. It might be the closest thing to a cable package without actually being cable you can find.
Distro TV has gone through a major facelift over the past few years and has taken aim at the international market. With news channels based all over the world, this app is a great way to get perspective from sources outside of the mainstream and even non-mainstream sources from the US. News sources include Euro News, World Is One, and Africa News. The majority of the content is in English but with channels originating around the world you can better believe you will find new perspectives and maybe some new favorites. Distro also offers familiar fare like a group of reality TV channels, general entertainment channels, sports etc.
XUMO is a powerful player in the free TV market. Now owned by Comcast, XUMO has built a free TV service that features some of the most recognizable brands in America. Its news section features NBC News, CBSN, ABC News. It’s entertainment selections include Hallmark Movies and More, a Crackle Channel, branded curated genre channels, channels dedicated to popular game shows, popular OTA channels and a large on-demand library of content built on all of its numerous partners. For instance, the Hallmark channel mentioned earlier features 20 Hallmark Hall of Fame movies. The app is built so that nearly every channel is also a provider for on-demand content. A very strong entry for any cord cutter or content lover.
The Roku Channel
The Roku channel is available on a number of platforms but Roku devices are the only ones that get Roku’s live TV grid as an option. The growing FAST offers channels from a number of its content partners along with some independent 24-7 streaming options. The live channel grid breaks up content by type with music sections, news sections, sports etc. The Roku Channel also features a deep library of on-demand content including its own exclusive Roku Originals, kids programming and more.
Nosey is the home of Daytime TV. Court shows and old daytime talk shows. It operates with five pillars of the genre, Jerry Springer, Sally Jessy Raphael, Maury, Steve Wilkos and Maury Spinoff Show Trisha. Stirr is not producing new content but it is a chance to relive the days when finding out someone was on the spectrum was a big deal and a scandal and of course a big fake surprise. Can you believe this guy didn’t know his girlfriend of 5 years is a man all this time. No I don’t believe it. But for the folks who loved that content Nosey is a treasur trove. The Channel also offers a curated grid featuring 24-7 streaming of its stalwarts. Its on-demand section offers fun daytime court shows such as Judge Mom, Judge Jerry, Judge Dad and Judge Karen’s Divorce Court!
Redbox TV is a very well-organized app featuring a live TV grid with a very easy-to-use selection tool that allows viewers to jump from one group of content channels to another. Redbox’s channels are not altogether unique, but the way they are organized will be appreciated by those who have had a lot of experience navigating the free ad-supported channels over time. Redbox also offers a surprising array of on-demand content (currently) featuring very well-known movies like Bull Durham, The Founder, Requiem For A Dream, The Artist, Zack and Miri Make A Porno, and National Lampoons Van Wilder.
A Sinclair broadcast group product, STIRR TV offers live feeds of the OTA channels that it owns including Charge, Comet, TBD, and Curated channels that pull content from numerous sources into themed channels. Stirr also offers streams of other OTA channels like BZZR, Circle, and many others packaged with Internet-based streaming options all in a digital TV-style guide. The app includes the ability to check out shows from Sinclair-owned channels on-demand where viewers can see the most recently aired episodes of the featured series. This is not a full catalog of a given show and there is not a specific order. But truthfully the content is from the era of totally episodic TV instead of complicated season-long storylines. Stirr also attempts to pair the viewer with news from their region by linking them with the closest broadcast news channel to their location.