7 Hit TV Shows You Had No Idea Were Streaming for Free
Several major series have popped up on free, ad-supported streamers you maybe haven't heard of.
It's been 10 years since Netflix released House of Cards Season 1 in 2013, kicking off the streaming television revolution. And in the ensuing decade, the entertainment landscape has been upended. Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video are now top-tier streaming services along with Netflix and Hulu. HBO Max and Paramount+ are struggling to keep up by merging with Discovery+ and Showtime, respectively; while Peacock and AMC+ are grappling to find their footing. But while "cord-cutting" initially promised to make watching TV simpler, many viewers are stuck paying multiple monthly bills while losing track of where their favorite shows are streaming any given month. However, with FAST (Free, Ad-supported Streaming TV) services now in the mix, there's a chance that a series you've been looking for is currently streaming without a subscription fee. Read on for six hit shows that you probably didn't know were available on streaming—and for a grand total of $0.
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The Great British Baking Show, Seasons 1-7
Fans of The Great British Baking Show (a.k.a. The Great British Bake-Off) may have noticed when they tuned in for the Fall 2022 season that several "collections" had disappeared from Netflix. But all those older episodes, the ones featuring with Mary Berry as judge and Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins as hosts, are now available—for free!—on The Roku Channel. Even better, Roku lists the seasons in proper numerical order and includes dozens of episodes that never made it to American viewers, including the show's original Seasons 1 and 2, all episodes of the after-show An Extra Slice, and the celebrity editions featuring stars including Jameela Jamil, Daisy Ridley, and James McAvoy.
Where to watch it: The Roku Channel
Star Trek, Various Series
Pluto TV is one of the most popular FAST channels due to its interface. Set up like a TV Guide listings channel, the FAST streamer's offerings are arranged by show name. Its offerings include a classic Doctor Who channel, The Walking Dead channel, a Survivor channel, and a Stargate channel, to name but a few. But of its free content, the most extensive is its Star Trek channel, which has The Original Series and The Next Generation playing on a constant loop. The next channel up is the More Star Trek channel, which has Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. So eventually, you're bound to catch your favorite.
Where to watch it: Pluto TV
Mad Men (Amazon Freevee)
There's a lot to love on Amazon Freevee, the recently rechristened FAST channel formerly known as IMDb TV. For science fiction nerds, there's The X-Files, Fringe, Lost, and Farscape. But when it comes to award-winning hit shows, Freevee's major get is all seven seasons of the critical darling Mad Men, starring Jon Hamm as Don Draper, an advertising man with a mysterious past who weathers the changes of the 1960s along with his family and coworkers.
Where to watch it: Amazon Freevee
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Even though Disney bought out most of 20th Century Fox in 2019, FCC rules made it so the actual broadcast network, Fox, couldn't be part of the deal. While the network may be shorn of its production studio, it's made up for it with Tubi, one of the most popular FAST services currently out there. Moreover, it's been ready to scoop up shows from larger networks that don't have ad-supported free services, like HBO. Among its free offerings that once were once exclusive to the premium pay channel is the one-season wonder Lovecraft Country, a horror series set in the Jim Crow South and a breakout moment for star Jonathan Majors.
Where to watch it: Tubi
Xumo was, until recently, NBC Universal's other free streaming service after Peacock, but since the latter dropped its free tier, Xumo is now NBCU's main FAST streamer. While you may not have been aware that it even exists, it may be time to add the service to your Smart TV. Xumo is slowly adding complete collections of comedies and dramas for free streaming, including all five seasons of Anger Management, the sitcom Charlie Sheen moved on to after being fired from the hit Two and a Half Men. The 2012 comedy series is a loose adaptation of the 2003 Jack Nicholson movie, starring Sheen as a former baseball player who becomes an anger management therapist after working through his own issues.
Where to watch it: Xumo
6 & 7
NOVA and Nature
Finally, there's the PBS app, which is public broadcasting's version of a FAST service. Though its drama content and Masterpiece shows are locked behind a paywall (one which drops if you donate $5/month to your local PBS station), arts and science programs, including old-school stuff like The Joy of Painting With Bob Ross, are streaming free for everyone. But the real treasure trove of this app consists of 50 seasons of the science and tech docuseries NOVA and 40 seasons of the animal and ecosystem docuseries Nature. These long-running programs are educational TV institutions after half a century on the air, and every last episode of each is available at no cost.
Where to watch it: PBS