We live in an age of streaming. There is no doubt about it. And when it comes to the discussion of who the giants are in the streaming industry, I believe that the same few tend to come up over and over again … the usual suspects: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO (Go, Max, Now), and (more recently) Disney Plus. These are the big players when it comes to streaming TV and movie content over the internet. Heck, I don’t know if I know anybody these days that doesn’t have access to a Netflix or Hulu account. In fact, most of my friends have accounts for most of these streaming platforms (and some have even been nice enough to share their login info with me from time to time).
There are, however, countless other movie and TV series streaming services out there as well. These are the ones that don’t get talked about nearly as often. For whatever reason, they just didn’t take. Could this be due to a relative lack of quality in terms of the content offered? Maybe, for some. Could it be because of the lackluster or subpar site and app builds? It’s possible. But, more likely, when you boil it down, these sites I am speaking of are less known because, for one reason or another, they have not been marketed to the same effect. And, on a related note, more often than not, they are probably functioning on much smaller budgets.
That, of course. does not necessarily mean that these services are any worse. It just means that they aren’t quite as mainstream. In fact, I know of quite a few lesser-known streaming services that, in my opinion, in some ways are far superior to, say, Netflix or Hulu – and some of these are even free to use.
It seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? To conceive of a free streaming service that outperforms a premium service like Netflix … well, prepare to have your mind blown. Because, in my opinion, the free movie and TV streaming service we are going to take a look at today are, in some respects, better than some of the most popular streaming platforms. And it even comes from an equally trusted name in the tech space. Today, we will be critiquing and breaking down one of the underdogs of the streaming world. Allow me to introduce you to the Sony Crackle.
In 2004 Dave Samuel, Josh Felser, Aviv Eyal, and Mike Sitrin founded an online video site known as Grouper. Only 2 years later, however, Sony would make the bunch of young entrepreneurs an offer they couldn’t refuse. Sony bought Grouper for a whopping $65 million. And upon doing so, they renamed the service Crackle.
This rebrand occurred in July of 2007. Crackle would end up becoming so much more than merely a site that hosted videos. In the hands of Sony, Crackle became a multiplatform video streaming network and original production studio. In Crackle’s early days, users were able to access movies from Sony’s robust catalog, as well as original web series produced by Crackle.
In March of 2011, Crackle continued to expand its reach, releasing streaming services available on Bravia TVs, Roku devices, PS3s, and Sony Blu-Ray players. And the following month, Sony announced that it would be releasing apps for both Android and iOS. And, so, they did. This also led Crackle to partner with Xbox Live, which made Crackle content available on the Xbox 360. And in 2013, Crackle also became available on Apple TVs. It’s a wonder you don’t hear about it more often, given what an immense reach the platform has and the fact that it is 100% free to use at any time.
More recently, Sony sold its majority stake in Crackle to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment (of all companies). This happened in the Spring of 2018. It has yet to be noted what big changes (if any) will occur in Crackle’s original programming now that Chicken Soup for the Soul owns the service. I suppose only time will tell.
Crackle’s design is pretty effective, I would say, as far as movie and TV streaming services are concerned. In terms of layout, it reminds me of a bit of HBO Go – in the way that titles are stacked in differentiated sizes, as well as separated by genre or tag. At the top of the Crackle home page, you’ll find a banner that features a carousel of featured titles. And below that, scroll down and let yourself fall completely down the rabbit hole of movies to choose from. Content is separated mostly by genre, and the different tags are referred to as “channels.”
Crackle, generally speaking, looks sleek and professional. It is also extremely user-friendly. Just click on a title and let it begin playing. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. I also appreciate the fact that you can add titles to a personalized “watch later” list. Of course, you’ll have to sign in to make use of this. That being said, though, signing up and logging in is not necessary to start immediately watching movies and shows. Crackle makes things as simple and as convenient as they should be.
In addition to classic blockbuster movies – such as Air Force One, The Transporter, Speed, and Little Women (just to name a few) – Crackle also features standup comedy specials, docuseries, full-length documentaries, and some timeless TV series as well. This is what surprises me most about the fact that Crackle does not have more mainstream attention … the fact that it has a ton of high-quality content (again, for free!).
Crackle may not have the longest list of syndicated and original movies and shows in the world of online streaming platforms, but their library is also nothing to roll your eyes at. There are definitely plenty of options for all fans of film and television, no matter what your favorites may be.
Desktop and Mobile Experience
Here’s something rare: a free streaming platform that offers a great experience both on your computer and on your mobile device. I don’t know if you have any idea how rare it is to find a free movie and TV streaming site that also offers an app – let alone a halfway decent one.
I do want to put emphasis on the “halfway decent” aspect of this, though. This is not, by any means, the best streaming app o the market, but it definitely gets the job done. The Crackle app has an average user rating of 3.7 stars out of five on the Apple App Store (which is actually pretty standard when it comes to apps of this kind). I think the app is good enough … then again, I don’t typically prefer to watch movies and TV shows from my phone anyway! That being said, you can enjoy Crackle on just about any device you like.
Pricing and Plans
Once again, what is arguably the very best aspect of Crackle is the fact that it is 100% free to use the moment you land on the home page. It couldn’t be easier. Just go to crackle.com, pick a title, and kick back and enjoy! That’s all there is to it.
Of course, there will be ads. And you will have to turn your adblocker off in order to start watching content. But, hey, they have to make money somehow, right? I think we can put up with a few commercials here and there throughout a high-quality movie stream for free. Not a bad price to pay at all, if you ask me.
Suggestions that I have for Sony Crackle
I would like to see Crackle offer a premium upgrade option. I like this service so much, and obviously, it is amazing that it is free, but I would definitely consider paying a small monthly fee to use Crackle if it meant that I could get rid of ads. I think that adding this option would be very beneficial, not just for viewers like you and me, but for Crackle’s profits as well!
All in all, no matter what streaming sites you are already using, Crackle needs to be on everybody’s radar if it isn’t already. A free streaming platform with tons of classic and blockbuster releases should not be overlooked. Go and check Crackle out today, you won’t regret it!