A guide to watching movies and TV shows for free | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

A guide to watching movies and TV shows for free

Everyone with access to streaming services has been watching them nonstop. Watching TV is one of the few recreational activities we safely have left, besides cooking and reading and napping. I have siphoned nearly a dozen streaming passwords off of family and friends, but I know not everyone is so lucky. If you don't have access to or can't afford Netflix, Hulu, or any of the other 3,000 streaming apps, there are still plenty of ways you can (legally) watch movies for free.


No, I'm not talking about the weird bootleg uploads of movies where they turn the clips sideways so they don't get dinged for copyright infringement. You may have seen that you can rent or buy movies on YouTube, but there are also plenty of movies available for free (with ads, as most of these have). Some of the movies are weird trash you've never heard of, like The Prince & Me 4: The Elephant Adventure, but there are also some hidden gems and childhood favorites. Try: Penelope (the one where Christina Ricci has a pig nose), Kicking and Screaming (the Noah Baumbach one, not the Will Ferrell one), and Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Roku App

If you have a Roku device, or a TV with a built-in Roku system, then you can access a trove of free movies through the Roku Channel. Through May 15, you can even find a collection of free HBO shows and movies on the app, including classics like The Sopranos or The Wire and new movies like Lego Movie 2. Try Roku films like Airplane!, The Iron Giant, or Barbershop 2.


When it's open, the library is a great source of free DVD rentals. But you can still access free movies through the library with Hoopla, a site with free movies, music, and audiobooks. All you need to do is register with your Carnegie Library card (bonus: no ads). This is especially good for family-friendly and kids movies. Check out: Shoplifters, 13 Going on 30, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

Free Trials

Virtually every streaming service and app lets you have a free trial. Now is the time to run through as many free trials as you want. Get Hulu, then Netflix, then HBO Go, then Sling, then the NBC app, then CBS All Access, then Criterion Channel. Once you've gone through a free trial on every app, use your second email, or your partner's email to go through them all again. All of these streaming companies have so much money, they can spare a few free trials.

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