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Apple TV offers a variety of tvOS apps providing free TV shows and movies. This article examines the most popular apps offering free content.
At first glance, Apple TV may seem like a vending machine in your living room. The most popular video apps often require a subscription fee. Renting a movie on iTunes usually costs $5.99. For those who go for the most obvious options, cable may actually be the cheaper alternative. Fortunately, you can watch free TV shows and movies on Apple TV from a variety of sources.
This isn’t too good to be true. After all, if you have a TV and an antenna, you can watch free TV shows. As with broadcast TV, these free Apple TV content apps use advertising to make a profit. The difference is that, with Apple TV, many of these programs are available on-demand. You don’t have to plan your life around the TV schedule.
There are myriad apps offering free TV shows and movies, but it’s not possible to cover them all. Virtually every TV network offers a tvOS app. While most of them require a TV provider (cable, satellite) subscription for full activation, they usually offer a few shows for free. There’s also a lot of news apps that offer free, 24/7 news coverage. This article doesn’t cover these apps, as they do have limitations. We’ll be looking at apps that offer free TV shows and movies, instead of just free samples or news.
Sony Pictures Entertainment purchased Grouper in 2006 and later rebranded the platform as Crackle. The free service has been streaming video for about a decade, and is available on virtually every platform, including Apple TV.
The service features popular TV shows such as Seinfeld, Who’s the Boss and Firefly. Crackle offers original programming, including Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Joe Dirt 2, Sports Jeopardy! and SuperMansion. Overall, the service offers about 70 different shows, however, the selection changes often. Viewers don’t have access to every episode of a TV show. For example, there are only 9 episodes of Seinfeld available, from different seasons. It’s similar to syndicated shows on broadcast TV. The episodes are random, with a sparse selection. If you’re not picky, you’ll probably find something entertaining to watch.
Crackle also features a decent selection of over 200 movies, including new releases and classics. Movies include Animal House, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle and Apollo 13. Titles are rotated often. Make sure to watch your favorite movies before they expire. These movies are presented in their original, unedited form, with the addition of advertising breaks.
The Crackle tvOS app for Apple TV is simple and easy-to-use. The top menu makes it easy to access the Home, Shows, Movies and My Crackle screens. Users can quickly browse TV shows and Movies by category. Although there is no search feature, given the limited options, it’s unnecessary. Users can also activate Crackle, for free, to enable additional features. Activation is required to add videos to the queue.
Science fiction fans will find a lot to like about Comet TV. The new tvOS app streams science fiction programming to your Apple TV. Owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group and operated by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Comet TV delivers science fiction, fantasy, supernatural and horror programming to a variety of TV devices. Comet TV is also available on select digital broadcast TV stations.
Comet TV programming will probably appeal to some fans of science fiction, fantasy, adventure and horror programming. Don’t expect to watch Star Wars movies on Comet TV. That said, they offer some popular programs and movies, such as Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Terminator and Stargate SG-1. Programming is punctuated with advertising breaks, which keeps Comet TV free for all viewers.
Overall, the Comet TV app is simple, elegant and virtually flawless. Although programming isn’t offered in widescreen format, the tvOS app offers excellent picture quality, with stable, consistent streaming performance. The lack of on-demand content, however, is a throw-back to broadcast and cable television.
Founded in early 2006, The CW is a partnership between CBS, Warner Bros. Entertainment and other entities. The “CW” abbreviation represents the first letters of CBS and Warner Bros. Entertainment. Programming is geared toward 18 to 35-year-old women. The network is available in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The CW tvOS app differs from most network apps in that it is absolutely free. There is no need to activate the app with a cable or satellite subscription. Viewers can enjoy shows such as Riverdale, Supergirl and The Flash for free. Just like with cable, satellite or an antenna, content is monetized with commercial breaks. The CW tvOS app only offers content on demand. There is no live TV stream. Viewers don’t need to tune in at a certain time or remember to set their DVR. The CW has embraced the future of television and we can only hope other networks follow suit.
The app itself is similar to most network tvOS apps. The Home screen displays popular shows in a scrolling marquee. Viewers can also access new episodes and programs that are about to expire from the Home screen. (Like many digital TV apps, The CW doesn’t offer every program indefinitely.) Users can browse shows by name and also search for a specific program. The Recents screen keeps track of what you’re watching, making it easy to get back to your favorite show. Best of all, The CW integrates with Apple’s TV app, making it easy to access shows directly from tvOS Home screen.
For those who prefer Christian content, Godvo offers free live TV broadcasts on Apple TV. Founded in 2016, the California-based company is already the fastest growing religious TV network. Their mission is to “bring all churches to all people through free Christian TV”. The service isn’t supported by one specific church. Instead it provides access to numerous Christian TV channels, all in one app.
The Godvo tvOS app works just like the channel guide on a digital cable box. Users scroll through the channels and click the Touch surface to start a channel. Pressing the menu button displays the channel guide again. The channel guide features a small video window with a preview of each selected channel. That’s all there is. There’s no settings or on demand selections. It’s one of the simplest tvOS video apps in the App Store.
Live TV streams are easily accessible using the Livestream app. The New York City based company was founded originally as Mogulus in 2007, as a free streaming service with additional professional services. The company rebranded as Livestream in 2009. Beyond the app, the company develops hardware, software and offers professional services to facilitate live video streaming. (continue…)