There exist so many streaming services these days that it can take effort to plan which ones you want to pay for and which you can go without. Thankfully, free streaming services are accessible online or through an app, where you might find your next favourite show or movie!
Popular paid streaming services for some context:
- Amazon Prime Video
- Apple TV+
- Crave TV
How Is Free Streaming Possible?
Free streaming platforms use advertisements to earn revenue rather than through subscriptions, so those are those pesky commercials you get during your shows or movies. But that’s the price to be paid for free services. Fortunately, you can even pause, fast-forward and rewind your shows.
Is It Legal?
Often the question is whether you will get in trouble for streaming through platforms other than popular services. Thankfully there are red flags you can keep your eyes out for.
What To Avoid
- Is the publishing information and contact information legitimate?
- Is the service recommending that you use a proxy or a VPN?
- Do they have advertisements? How are they earning their revenue?
Free Streaming Services Online in Canada
All you need is your TV, desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone!
YouTube is a well-known and easily accessible streaming platform. You can watch it from your phone, laptop and TV. The content on YouTube is free. However, they have come out with YouTube Premium, where you can watch your favourite channels ad-free, or they offer TV shows and movies, especially for Premium members, for $11.99/month.
With the free and accessible version, they provide a wide variety of content. Content posted is often done by individuals, influencers, and businesses. Content can range from how-to videos, cooking videos, science videos, and history videos, or they offer less educational videos like vlogs which are the content of the daily life of an individual or influencer, or music videos, gaming videos etc. The range is vast; you can find anything you are interested in.
Sometimes YouTube offers free movies or TV shows, which can be taken advantage of.
For parents with children, you can get a child-friendly profile which allows you to filter the channels and content available.
Slice is similar to YouTube, where influencers share free videos on DIY, hair styling, fashion, makeup and skincare routines, and travel advice, to name a few. The content is centred around Canadian women of diverse backgrounds. If you do not like your usual content on YouTube, try Slice out to find your next favourite influencer.
Vice is similar to YouTube and Slice but is more culturally and news-focused. They offer limited free documentaries, films and news videos about the global world. They try to be unbiased, and their content is often controversial, making their videos more engaging.
You may have to get a subscription or add them to your cable. However, it is unnecessary, and they still have many options. They also have a YouTube channel if you want to check their content first.
The Roku Channel
The Roku Channel is free with a Roku device like a Roku TV, giving you free automatic access to their TV shows and movies. This streaming service has over 4,000 options; unfortunately, the TV shows and films are outdated, and you won’t see any new content.
They can offer free TV shows and movies for Roku device holders through advertisement, so there may be a few commercial breaks while watching.
Tubi is a better option than the Roku channel since it is an online streaming service with apps available to be added on the Xbox, Playstation, Apple TV, etc.; as long as you have a device to watch entertainment, then you’re set!
Tubi offers TV shows and movies; they come with advertisements, so commercial breaks are expected, but other than that, it is entirely free.
The options available are mainly older content, but they have over 45,000 movies and TV shows to choose from, so you might have to do a bit of looking to find your next favourite show or movie.
CBC is a well-known broadcasting company, mainly for its news coverage; however, they have a branch of entertainment options through CBC Gem like TV shows, movies, documentaries and even TV shows specifically for kids.
For those who have cable, it is free through their TV channel, and for those who don’t, it is still free and available as an online streaming service with a few advertisements breaks as a Guest.
The downside of CBC Gem is that older seasons of TV shows might be blocked as an incentive to become a member or to subscribe to their premium services. It is optional but an option if you want to watch specific seasons. They have opportunities to be a Member, which is also free and gives you more access to past seasons, but still with advertisements. Becoming a Premium member is $4.99/month, eliminating ads and allowing you to access their live streaming services, among other benefits. Live streaming is typical for sports events, so this might be a good, relatively well-priced option if you are a big sports person.
Pluto TV is great because you do not need to create an account, simply go to their site and start streaming for free!
They offer Live TV as well as On Demand TV shows and movies. As is a theme with these free services, it does come with commercial breaks, which unfortunately means the website can be a bit slow; however, with some patience, it’ll be right up.
CTV is a television network that began in 1961, so they have the experience and knowledge of entertainment. They are a famous news broadcasting network. They stream not only Canadian TV shows and movies.
CTV uploads their shows after the air date for free, making them accessible to everyone and allowing you to access current, popular TV shows rather than older ones. They also have an option for live TV, so if you don’t have cable but want to watch on your laptop, it is readily available!
There are advertisements; however, since it is a current and well-maintained website, the lags are limited, and streaming is smooth.
Crunchyroll is for those anime lovers out there! It offers new and older anime TV series, movies and even manga, so you can easily find your favourites.
They have both free and paid subscription options. For free users, you will still need to create an account where you can watch most anime with commercial breaks, which is unfortunate. Their paid subscription options allow unlimited access to all anime, so if anime is one of your main entertainment focuses, you can consider it.
HGTV stands for Home & Garden TV. They offer free streaming for real estate, home decor, and improving your home or garden. This is an excellent option if you’re considering changing your home and need inspiration.
You might recognize the name from cable tv channels, which could be something you’ve watched before casually. It is an excellent show for casual viewing as it has no storyline, but it can get interesting when involving partners or families with conflict on design or decor.
Again a downside is commercial breaks.
TSC is Today’s Shopping Choice (originally known as The Shopping Channel). They have 24/7 streaming for shopping lovers. They only stream live, but again 24/7 so there will always be showcases of products, and is free.
There are a variety of products like clothing, jewlery, kitchen appliances, electrics, beauty products and more.
CPAC stands for the Cable Public Affairs Channel and is Canadian-owned. All its streams are bilingual Canadian political news for free. You can watch live parliament meetings, for example, and if you missed the life, you could check out their archived videos to stay current with government news. Their live footage is often not narrated by news anchors, so you get to hear what politicians say from your perspective.
An added bonus is that CPAC is a not-for-profit and does not have commercial breaks! So you can watch your political news freely and without interruption.
BNN Bloomberg is Canada’s news network for finance and business. They offer free live content and free 5 to 10 minute clips of certain subjects that had been previously aired. To watch their live, you do need an account, however it is free. They also offer articles on various finance topics.
If you are interested in topics like the stock market, this is where you can get the relevant Canadian news on impacts to finance and well-known and emerging companies.
CityNews Everywhere streams free 24/7 live local news from Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Kitchener, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. If you miss some of their stories, you can watch some past content or read various written versions. You’ll get news stories of your city as well as updates on politics.
They do not offer any entertainment content, however its a great way to catch up on events happening near you!
Free TV Channels On Cable
If you have cable TV or are considering it, several channels are free for Canadians. These channels often have an online presence where streaming is available but not guaranteed.
CBC, Citytv, Global TV
- Dragon’s Den
- The Amazing Race
- Desperate Housewives
Family, Teletoon, Treehouse, YTV
- Dora The Explorer
- Phineas & Ferb
Al Jazeera, Bloomberg News, BNN, CTV News
- News Hour
- The Stream
- Question Period
CMT, MTV, MuchMoreMusic, Much Music
- The Week That Was
Food Network, HGTV
- Property Virgins
- Everyday Exotic
A&E, CTV Comedy Channel, Discovery Channel, OLN, Showcase, Space
- How It’s Made
- Ghost Hunters
- Lost Girl
A Quick Summary On Free Streaming Services
Non-fiction & reality: YouTube, Slice, Vice Video, HGTV, TSC
Popular & quality: The Roku Channel, Tubi, CBC Gem, Pluto TV, CTV, Crunchyroll
News: CPAC, BNN Bloomberg, CityNews Everywhere
Should You Use A Free Streaming Service?
You probably already know how expensive using the more popular services can get, up to $100/month! It’s even worse when you spend that month watching mainly one service over another, feeling like you’ve wasted your money.
Luckily, unlimited options exist for the content you seek, with many free streaming services waiting for you to pick your new favorite!