Free Binge-Watch­ing:

Top Ap­ple TV Apps You Don't Have to Pay For


If you're like me, you like things that are free. Luck­ily, Ap­ple TV has plenty to of­fer in the way of free movie apps. You won't get the lat­est the­ater re­leases here, but you will find clas­sic shows such as Se­in­feld, oldie-but-goodie pub­lic do­main flicks, older doc­u­men­taries, in­de­pen­dent and in­ter­na­tional films, and much more. Dif­fer­ent apps of­fer dif­fer­ent ways in which to watch free movies and TV shows. Some of the apps be­low fea­ture movies from the pub­lic do­main, which means they're free to the pub­lic. Apps that fea­ture clas­sic movies don't need to mon­e­tize to pay for the con­tent. How­ever, Ap­ple TV apps with more re­cent con­tent do, which is why the apps be­low, such as Crackle and Tubi TV, of­fer great con­tent that in­cludes short ad­ver­tise­ments in or­der to pay for that con­tent. Over­all, it's sur­pris­ing the amount of good free movies and TV shows you can watch on your Ap­ple TV—and these apps let you watch the same con­tent on your iPhone or iPad too!

Rewinder! (Free)

This app has a huge col­lec­tion of pub­lic do­main con­tent. That means, of course, that the con­tent is dated. But it has a lot of clas­sic ma­te­rial that can still be very en­ter­tain­ing. It claims to have the largest li­brary of free films avail­able—these in­clude clas­sics such as Al­fred Hitch­cock's The 39 Steps, The Lady Van­ishes, and The Man Who Knew Too Much. You'll find Charlie Chap­lin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Three Stooges, Frank Si­na­tra, and many more. There's also a large selec­tion of “B-Movie Mas­ter­pieces,” such as Plan 9 from Outer Space and Night of the Liv­ing Dead. Clas­sic TV in­cludes Bev­erly Hill­bil­lies, Drag­net, Grou­cho Marx, Jack Benny, and The Lucy Show. Plus, there are hun­dreds of short doc­u­men­taries from the 1940s and '50s that are pretty weird, such as How to Be Well Groomed and What to Do on a Date. You prob­a­bly won't find a more eclec­tic and odd col­lec­tion any­where else.

Crackle (Free)

This col­lec­tion of ad-sup­ported movies is more apt to have movies from re­cent decades. More re­cent movies are typ­i­cally avail­able for a set pe­riod and then ex­pire, to be re­placed by new ti­tles. At the time of this writ­ing, well-known films such as Rudy, Ali, The Leg­end of Zorro, Rox­anne, Birdy, The Net, The China Syn­drome, About Last Night, Crash, La Bamba, and The Ca­ble Guy were avail­able. Crackle also has orig­i­nal shows and films, in­clud­ing Se­in­feld's Co­me­di­ans in Cars Get­ting Cof­fee. TV shows in­clude Se­in­feld, Mar­ried with Chil­dren, Dil­bert, All in the Fam­ily, and The Larry San­ders Show. There are reg­u­lar com­mer­cial in­ter­rup­tions dur­ing the movies, which is the trade­off for free con­tent. But the amount of ads is less than you'd see on net­work TV.

Viki (Free)

Viki has a large selec­tion of in­ter­na­tional movies and TV shows, mostly from Korea and China, but also a selec­tion from other coun­tries such as Ja­pan, In­dia, and the United States, with sub­ti­tles avail­able. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, there's no com­mer­cial in­ter­rup­tion. The app also has a selec­tion of TV shows. You can sort con­tent by coun­try. TV series from the US in­clude clas­sics such as The Lucy Show, The Bev­erly Hill­bil­lies, Ozzie and Har­riet, Pop­eye, Felix the Cat, Casper the Friendly Ghost, The Lone Ranger, and The Ad­ven­tures of Robin Hood.

Pub­lic Do­main Movies (Free)

This app has over 100 movies that are in the pub­lic do­main that you can sort by di­rec­tor, ac­tor, writer, and year, as well as by genre. Clas­sic movies in­clude those with Cary Grant, Charlie Chap­lin, Fred As­taire, Laurel & Hardy, Ab­bot & Costello, and Kirk Dou­glas.

View­ster (Free)

This app of­fers free an­ime in ad­di­tion to movies and TV shows. Con­tent is ad sup­ported, with com­mer­cials both at the be­gin­ning and dur­ing the videos. This app is some­what dif­fer­ent from the oth­ers in that many of the movies and TV shows are in­de­pen­dent or for­eign-lan­guage orig­i­nals that haven't had a the­atri­cal re­lease or haven't been shown on reg­u­lar TV chan­nels.

Pluto TV (Free)

This app sim­u­lates a ca­ble TV ser­vice. In­stead of movies/shows on de­mand, it has a view­ing guide with chan­nels, with spe­cific pro­grams stream­ing at spe­cific times. The view­ing guide is or­ga­nized into cat­e­gories, with the Me­mory Lane cat­e­gory in­clud­ing the chan­nels Drive-In Movies, Clas­sic Movies, Shout TV, and Mys­tery Sci­ence The­ater 3000. Cur­rently play­ing as I write this are Son of Ram­bow, Sher­lock Holmes: Ter­ror by Night, H.G. Wells: The In­vis­i­ble Man, Route 66, and The Cas­tle of FuManchu.

SnagFilms (Free)

SnagFilms has over 5,000 in­de­pen­dent movies, TV shows, and doc­u­men­taries you can stream. With pop­u­lar doc­u­men­taries such as Su­per Size Me and well-known in­de­pen­dent movies such as Vi­sioneers and Brook­lyn Rules, there's lots of op­por­tu­nity to dis­cover movie gems. Named the “Best iPad Video App” by the Huff­in­g­ton Post, there's sure to be some­thing here for every­one.

Tubi TV (Free)

Tubi TV has some sur­pris­ingly re­cent films for a free app for watch­ing movies. The com­pany be­hind the app is able to do this by mon­e­tiz­ing with com­mer­cial in­ter­rup­tions. It may be a trade-off, but for free qual­ity con­tent, it's worth it. En­joy An­ime? Tubi TV streams new an­ime the day after it's re­leased in Ja­pan. It also has a selec­tion of Korean dra­mas and ex­clu­sive cat­e­gories such as, “Highly Rated on Rot­ten Toma­toes.”

Jim Karpen, Ph.D, is on fac­ulty at Ma­har­ishi Univer­sity of Man­age­ment in Fair­field, IA. He has been writ­ing about the rev­o­lu­tion­ary con­se­quences of com­puter tech­nol­ogy since 1994. His Ph.D dis­serta­tion an­tic­i­pated the In­ter­net rev­o­lu­tion. His site,, con­tains se­lected reg­u­lar col­umns writ­ten for The Iowa Source. Con­tact him at

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