Forced to Cut the Cord? Here are the Alternatives.

By Behind the Scenes in Hollywood Archives
Cover image for  article: Forced to Cut the Cord? Here are the Alternatives.

As the economic fallout from the current Coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll on everyone, the widespread effects continue to be felt. Unemployment numbers have skyrocketed, paychecks are increasingly dwindling, and millions of Americans are having to seriously reconsider spending on everyday items, re-categorizing them into the luxury items column of their budget. It's a dire move, but necessary in these troubled times. For the millions of Americans who were recently forced to register for unemployment, one of the first budgetary cuts to consider is their cable television. There's no doubt (for those that have/had it) reducing your service to an internet connection only, and relying on free-to-air stations for your news and entertainment, will save you money, but even if you only had basic cable as a part of your package cutting the cord could leave an entertainment void. And let's face it, as 'safer at home' and 'self-isolation' orders continue to be extended, without some sort of distraction it's easy to start climbing the walls. If you recently found yourself forced to say a temporary good-bye to your trusted cable box, and have a streamable device like Roku, AppleTV, or even a smartphone, there are a few free entertainment alternatives available to receive content via a downloadable app or your desktop computer. The majority are ad-supported and really no different from tuning to your favorite cable network to watch a movie or show. Below, is a sampling of some the comprehensively stocked streamers on offer for free to help maintain your sanity.

I repeat: They are free.

Tubi: (Fox Corporation) A personal go-to, Tubi is my favorite one-stop-shop for free entertainment. Boasting an impressive and genre-comprehensive library, there's something for everyone on Tubi. Be it action, anime, horror, drama, faith, indie, lifestyle, or LGBTQ, Tubi's 34 available genres contain thousands of titles, both in English and foreign language. While it's completely free, you will have to endure a few ad-breaks from sponsors, to keep it that way, but it's completely worth it. And if you start a movie you're not enjoying, go to another as it's not costing you anything.

Hoopla: (Midwest Tape) Here you can certainly believe the hoopla. Billed as 'a groundbreaking digital media service', it's offered free in conjunction with local public libraries. With all being closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, current library cardholders can browse and stream movies, music, audiobooks, eBooks, comics, and TV shows straight to a computer, tablet, or phone, or TV from the comfort of your couch. There's no waiting and titles can be streamed immediately or downloaded to enjoy later. With more than 12k family-friendly titles including classics, musicals, and romantic comedies, that are constantly being updated, you might even find an elusive title online, that may have not been readily available at the library.

Pluto TV: (ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks) Another personal favorite, Pluto is like having that DVR or cable box you just had to return. While not as functional as a paid cable service, the easy to scroll guide gives currently aired listings, along with the option to browse select on-demand movies, and with some currently in progress, the option to watch from the beginning. Everything from back-episodes of reality favorites, select titles from the James Bond library to documentaries and horror are just a click away. Subscribing to their email list extends your channel options and is well worth it. They also have a variety of news channels, from a wide range of services to keep you up-to-date.

Crackle: (Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment/Sony) Borrowing heavily from Sony's extensive library, Crackle isn't new, but remains a great destination for both original and existing curated content. While the focus is on-demand movies, it also boasts an impressive TV catalog of classics like Charlie's Angels, Bewitched, Who's the Boss and All in the Family. While it's another ad-supported platform, the commercial breaks are a little less frequent than broadcast television and a little more frequently during a movie. It's easy to navigate and there's plenty to keep you engaged. (That's a Crackle grid pictured up top.)

Vudu: (Walmart) In the midst of its sale to NBCU's Peacock, the service is available for smart TVs, connected Blu-ray players, assorted game streaming devices like Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, etc. It can also be downloaded to your smart device and boasts thousands of primarily film titles. It has an impressive list of genres, and should you have a spare few dollars available, gives you the option to rent a selection of recently released titles. Their rental fees range, but start as low as $1.99, but there are enough free ad-supported titles to keep you entertained for hours.

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