15 best ad-supported streaming services [Highest rated]

by Sagar Naresh
Sagar Naresh
Sagar Naresh
Author
Sagar is a web developer and technology journalist. Currently associated with WindowsReport and SamMobile. When not writing, he is either at the gym sweating it out or playing... read more
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  • Subscription-based streaming services are available in plenty, but the main confusion is between the ad-supported streaming services.
  • In this guide, we have listed some of the best ad-supported streaming services that you can opt for.
  • The list includes video and audio streaming services that you can enjoy for free in exchange for some ads.
netflix

Gone are the days when you used to download a song, video, etc., on your phone, only to listen to it when you want to.

Now is the age of streaming, and everything from your favorite songs, movies, TV shows, sports, news, etc., is live-streamed using different streaming services.

All you need to do is download an app for the streaming service provider, and that’s it! You can take your content anywhere you go, and you need to have an active internet connection.

While there are multiple paid streaming services available, not everyone wants to go that route and shell out money only to stream their favorite song, video, movie, or sports event.

Fortunately, many streaming services let you enjoy all your favorite content, audio or video, in exchange for some ads. That’s fair enough.

This guide will show you the 15 best ad-supported streaming services that you can opt for and continue to enjoy your favorite content on the go, free of cost, with some ads.

What is ad-supported streaming?

Generally, when people think of or even talk about streaming services, the first thing that comes to mind is the subscription-based streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.

Subscription-based services will charge you a specific amount monthly or yearly and provide you access to all of its content ad-free.

On the other hand, when we talk about ad-supported streaming, it essentially means a video or audio streaming service that serves ads to its customers in exchange for accessing content on the platform.

Examples of ad-supported streaming services include YouTube Music, Pandora, Spotify, Crackle, Peacock, Hulu, Tubi, Roku Channel, etc.

But there are other trade-offs also attached to ad-supported streaming services that you should be aware of. Let us understand this by comparing ad-supported streaming services with ad-free streaming services.

Ad-supported streaming services

  1. You get to hear your favorite content free of cost.
  2. You will be served ads very often during your streaming session.
  3. The content library is often small on ad-supported streaming services.
  4. Ad-supported streaming allows consumers to explore the platform before paying any fee upfront for the ad-free experience.

Ad-free streaming services

  1. You need to pay a subscription fee to access all of the content.
  2. You can enjoy your music or video with no ads, interruption-free.
  3. The content library is massive, with some exclusive content as well.
  4. You have to purchase a subscription-based plan to view content on ad-free platforms.

Which countries have ad-supported streaming?

Since ad-supported streaming is present in every country, the latest analysis by Morning Consult suggests that consumers in every country prefer ad-supported streaming services over ad-free services because of only one reason, they do not go heavy on your pocket.

Consumers in major countries such as South Korea, the United States, Russia, India, France, etc., all prefer ad-supported streaming services because they don’t add to their monthly bills.

Significant services, including HBO Max, already have introduced ad-supported streaming options, with news hinting that Disney+ and Netflix might also join the bandwagon.

Which are the highest-rated ad-supported streaming services?

1. Crackle

Crackle, previously owned by Sony, is now under Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. It consists of original as well as acquired programs.

There are multiple popular shows that you can watch on Crackle, such as Barney Miller, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game, etc.

Crackle is available in 21 countries and can be streamed on mobile, tablets, smart TVs, desktops, and gaming consoles. Some of its original content includes Les Norton, The Uncommon History of Very Common Things, etc.

Pros:

  • Available for free.
  • Decent collection of on-demand content.
  • Reliable streaming performance.

Cons

  • Be prepared for tonnes of ads.
  • Mobile and web interface could improve.
  • The availability of new content is scarce.

Visit Crackle

2. Spotify

Spotify needs no introduction. It is the best music streaming platform that you can opt for. It has all the tracks you wish for and even curated playlists to feed your changing moods.

The interface across platforms is super modern and smooth. You can create unlimited playlists in the free version as well.

It can be played on a web browser, Android or iOS, or even as a desktop application on your macOS or Windows PC.

Pros:

  • The best collection of music.
  • It lets you create unlimited playlists even in the ad-supported version.
  • Available across all platforms.
  • Streaming quality is the best among its competitors.

Cons:

  • You need to create a user account.
  • You will come across a good number of ads now and then.
  • Some features are locked behind a paywall.

Visit Spotify

3. YouTube Music

Another popular platform that will give you access to almost all songs that you can think of is YouTube Music.

YouTube Music is a version of YouTube where you can stream audio. There are so many ways you can search for your favorite track, subscribe to your famous artist’s channel, create new playlists, and much more.

You can also upload any music track and find playlists for specific genres, decades, activities, moods, etc.

Pros:

  • You can easily switch between audio and music videos.
  • Search among thousands of playlists.
  • Search for your favorite songs using lyrics.
  • Allows you to subscribe to a channel so that you do not miss out on new content.

Cons:

  • Lacks Hi-res audio streaming.
  • You will be bombarded with ads.

Visit YouTube Music

4. Peacock

Peacock is NBCUniversal’s streaming service, which gives you access to one-third of its massive library content in the free plan.

You can stream shows, movies, news, sports, and exclusive original programming, without paying a penny, but just viewing ads, which are a lot. You miss out on live sports events and blockbuster programs with the free tier.

It also includes content from its parent companies, including NBC, Universal Studios, USA Network, Syfy, Bravo, Telemundo, and Universal Kids.

You can use Peacock on all platforms, including Apple devices, Google Android TVs, phones, tablets, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation consoles, etc.

Pros:

  • The free tier has no significant limitations.
  • The free tier lets you stream 1080 content.
  • The ad-supported plan gives you access to over 13,000 hours of content.
  • Offers three concurrent streams on the free plan.

Cons:

  • Not much.

Visit Peacock

5. Plex

Plex has a decent collection of free movies and shows that you can watch for free. You need to sign up or sign in using Google or Facebook account, and you are all set.

The ad-supported streaming service provides access to thousands of free movies, TV shows, documentaries, musicals, etc.

It also comes with a free TV service that features over 80 channels, most of which are good enough to skip. There is also kids programming, live sports from Fubo Sports Network, etc.

Plex is available on Android, iOS, Android TVs, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox, and PlayStation gaming consoles.

Pros:

  • The free version is decent.
  • The interface across the platform is clutter-free.
  • Setting up is easy.
  • Offers Live TV.

Cons:

  • Lack of new content.
  • There is no original programming.

Visit Plex

6. HBO Max

The ad-supported plan of HBO Max comes at a price tag of $10/month, which is $5 less than the ad-free plan. Annual ad-supported programs start at $100.

Unlike most other free ad-supported streaming platforms, HBO Max has a good collection of content to watch for. The ads or commercial breaks are also less intrusive than other free platforms.

However, there are no ads on HBO original series, including Mare of Easttown, Game of Thrones, or The Wire. Your streaming will be limited to 1080p.

Pros:

  • Great collection of content.
  • Ads aren’t intrusive.
  • The interface is user-friendly.

Cons:

  • You have to pay for the ad-supported version.
  • You do not get same-day theatrical releases.
  • Viewing is capped at 1080p.

Visit HBO Max

7. Pandora

You will find all the tracks from your favorite artists on Pandora. Moreover, when you search for a specific artist, genre, or composer, it automatically creates a playlist based on what you like.

Pandora lets you create over 100 custom stations based on the tracks or genres you like. But, of course, if you aren’t sure what to listen to, you can always opt for the reliable Top Stations or Genres page to get going.

Pandora works on almost every device, and all the music is always free to listen to. Moreover, you can skip tracks as many times as possible with the ad-supported version.

It also serves you podcasts, lyrics of the song you listen to, displays artist tour and ticket information, etc.

Pros:

  • Free for life.
  • It offers unlimited skips if you watch ads.
  • Shows you lyrics and other details about the artist’s tour, etc.
  • Works on multiple devices.

Cons

  • You have to watch ads to select specific tracks.
  • Does not support Hi-Res audio.

Visit Pandora

8. Jango

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Jango Radio is the best option available to listen to songs with fewer interruptions and commercials.

Jango works on a desktop, laptop, or smartphone and allows you to stream your favorite track without creating an account.

You can select from various genres or pick your favorite band or singer and start listening to their songs. There is a good amount of customization on offer. There is no limit to the number of tracks you can skip.

Pros:

  • Listen without creating an account.
  • No skip limit.
  • Available on all devices.
  • Very few commercials.

Cons:

  • It doesn’t let you play a specific track.
  • Also, you cannot share your custom stations.

Visit Jango

9. Sling Free

Sling Free is the new-kid-on-the-block, and it offers you access to over 5,000 shows and movies free of cost. Moreover, it does not require you to enter your credit card number or register to use the platform.

Some popular shows that you can watch on this ad-supported Sling Free platform include Rick & Morty, Hell’s Kitchen, Forensic Files, etc.

The collection of the free movies is decent at best, but that is what the free version is all about. In addition, sling Free offers a bit of free live news programming with shows such as Good Morning America and Anderson Cooper 360. There are some kids content to watch also.

Pros:

  • Available on a variety of devices.
  • Offers about 100 live TV channels.
  • You do not need to sign in or enter credit card details to use the platform.

Cons:

  • Video streaming is a bit laggy.
  • Also, the content collection is not that exciting.

Visit Sling Free

10. TiVo+

If you are ok with buying hardware and watching content for free, you should consider TiVo+. First, however, you need to purchase either a TiVo DVR or TiVo Stream 4K to stream ad-supported content on TiVo+.

It features over 160 channels and offers older TV shows, including 3rd Rock From the Sun, America’s Funniest Home Videos, 21 Jump Street, Hell’s Kitchen, TMZ, Outside TV, PowerNation, FailArmy, and more.

You can also watch free live news from NBC News Now, USA Today, and Sky News. In addition, there are some free sports channels.

Pros:

  • It is more affordable than ad-free platforms.
  • Also, the free content collection is decent.

Cons:

  • You have to purchase TiVo hardware to stream free content.
  • Confusing interface.
  • Limited customization option.

Visit TiVo+

11. Tubi TV

Tubi TV is a popular name that has been around for quite some time now. The ad-supported version comes with the support of libraries from Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Bros.

You will find content right from old classics to new-gen movies. There are a few Tubi TV originals on offer as well.

It supports multiple devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung and Sony TVs, Android, Apple devices, Xbox, PlayStation, etc.

There are many categories to choose from, giving you access to your favorite genre pretty quickly. In addition, it doesn’t require you to sign in to start watching content.

Pros:

  • Offers a vast collection of free content.
  • Provides content from the libraries of Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Bros.
  • It does not require you to sign in to use the platform.
  • Modern interface.

Cons:

  • Streaming is capped at 720p.
  • Lack of ad-free option.
  • Does not feature live TV.

Visit Tubi TV

11. Vudu

Owned by Walmart, Vudu is now merged with the FandangoNow service, bringing a growing ad-supported content collection.

You can quickly find all the free content available on the platform via the Free section on the tap navigation bar of the home page.

TV and movies are categorized nicely, and you can hop on to the specific genre pretty quickly. In addition, you can watch older films and some recent ones, including content from other free services as well.

Pros:

  • Do not require your card information to use the free service.
  • An extensive library of content with over 10,000 free movies and TV episodes.
  • Some more notable titles may occasionally appear for free viewing.

Cons:

  • You have to watch ads, a lot of ads.
  • The free library maxes out at 1080p.

Visit Vudu

12. Pluto TV

If you want a service that can serve you free TV, Pluto TV is a good option. It supports multiple devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Android, Apple devices, Chromecast, Roku, web browser, etc.

Viacom-owned Pluto TV offers a dedicated TV guide, allowing you to know the currently running show and upcoming shows.

You can watch from over 250 live TV streams, with the entertainment category shining the brightest with Comedy Central, Fuse, MTV Pluto TV, Paramount Movie Channel, etc. You can also tune in to news channels such as CNN, NBC News, Sky News, etc.

Pros:

  • Best for free live TV watching.
  • It does not require you to create an account.

Cons:

  • Not much on-demand content on offer.
  • Live channels stream at 720p.

Visit Pluto TV

13. Roku Channel

If you purchase any Roku device, you get automatic access to Roku Channel, but it can be easily downloaded on smartphones and tablets or used on a web browser.

To watch content on Roku Channel, you do not need to register for an account. However, signing up unlocks the perk of continuing to manage content on another device.

You can stream the first episode of premium shows such as Game of Thrones, Billions, Outlander, and Watchmen. In addition, it has over 10,000 free concerts and movies and offers some original shows.

Pros:

  • Offers a decent collection of live TV, Roku originals, movies, etc.
  • Access to the first episode of premium shows.
  • You don’t have to create an account to watch free content.

Cons:

  • Limited control over video quality.
  • Mostly older content.

Visit Roku Channel

14. Freevee

Formerly known as IMDb TV, Amazon Freevee has an impressive collection of on-demand free content. You can your favorite shows for free, movies, and some originals.

You can access Freevee via the Amazon Prime Video app or the web browser. Moreover, you do not need an Amazon Prime subscription to access Freevee.

Amazon Freevee is available only in the US and the UK. However, there are reports that it might debut in Germany by the end of this year. You can binge-watch series such as Schitt’s Creek, Mad Men, Chicago Fire, Lost, The X-Files, and movies like Knives Out, The Invisible Man, etc.

Pros:

  • Good collection of free content.
  • The user interface is easy to understand.
  • Easily accessible on multiple devices.

Cons:

  • Has older titles.
  • Originals aren’t that impressive.

Visit Freevee

15. Kanopy

Last but not least, we have on our list of best ad-supported streaming services is Kanopy. It is an excellent platform with content for everyone, without ads, and accessible.

Thousands of on-demand films and shows are available in good quality, giving you access to Kanopy Kids content.

Besides, there is no limitation on concurrent streaming from a single account. Some of the unique content you can watch on Kanopy includes Moonlight, I Am Not Your Negro, and shows from History, A&E, PBS, Bleecker Street, HBO Documentary Films, and Paramount.

Do note that to access the Kanopy library, and you need to have a library card or a university email address to sign up for the service.

Pros:

  • Thousands of free content.
  • No ads, and it is free of cost.
  • No limits on simultaneous streaming.

Cons:

  • You cannot use the platform without a library card or university email.
  • Does not support offline downloads.
  • Does not feature original shows or anime.

Visit Kanopy

What is the most popular streaming service in 2022?

Cutting it short, with over 200 million subscribers, Netflix is the king of video streaming services. On the other hand, Spotify is the most famous music streaming service, with over 400 million subscribers.

No wonder these platforms offer and are investing in a tonne of original content, attracting new users and keeping subscribed users glued to these services.

However, one would argue that they find content on other platforms such as Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or even Pandora more entertaining than the most popular ones. It depends on personal choice.

The one important thing to note here is that these streaming services require a subscription to unlock all the platform’s features. So, if you do not want to shell out money, you can go with the list of best ad-supported streaming services presented above.

Let us know in the comments below which one of the ad-supported streaming services you use and which one you find the best in terms of content and user interface down in the comment below.

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