By Jim Karpen on Fri, 11/11/2016
If you’re like me, you like things that are free. Luckily, Apple TV has plenty to offer in the way of free movie apps. Most of the free movie or TV show apps allow you to watch streaming movies on your Apple TV and some have an iPhone app for free movie watching on iPhone or iPad as well. You won’t get the latest theatre releases here, but you will find classic shows such as Seinfeld, oldie-but-goodie public domain flicks, older documentaries, independent and international films, and much more. Overall, it’s surprising the amount of good free movies and TV shows you can watch on your Apple TV. Here’s our ten best free Apple TV apps for watching free movies and TV shows.
How to Watch Free Movies & TV Shows on Apple TV
Different apps offer different ways in which to watch free movies and TV shows. Some of the apps below feature movies from the public domain, which means they’re free to the public. Apps that feature classic movies don’t need to monetize to pay for the content. However, Apple TV apps with more recent content do, which is why the apps below such as Crackle and Tubi TV offer great content that includes short advertisements in order to pay for that content.
With all of the apps for watching free movies and TV shows below, you can download the app to your Apple TV for free and watch the content within the apps for free. I’ve included apps with a wide range of content from classic movies and documentaries to more recent TV shows and anime. There’s even an app for watching international shows. The best part? Download these free Apple TV apps to your heart’s content and binge watch as many free movies and TV shows as you want.
What If I Want to Watch Free Movies on My iPhone or iPad?
You can do that too! Most of the apps below are available across devices, which means you can watch your free movies on iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. If the title of the app isn’t a link, that means the app is only available on Apple TV. Let’s get started.
10 Best Free Apple TV Apps for Watching Free Movies & TV Shows
This app has a huge collection of public domain content. That means, of course, that it’s dated. But it has a lot of classic material that can still be very entertaining. It claims to have the largest library of free films. These include classics such as Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, and The Man Who Knew Too Much. You’ll find Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Three Stooges, Frank Sinatra, and many more. There’s also a large selection of “B-Movie Masterpieces,” such as Plan 9 from Outer Space and Night of the LIving Dead. Classic TV includes Beverly Hillbillies, Dragnet, Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, and The Lucy Show. Plus, there are hundreds of short documentaries from the 1940s and '50s that are pretty weird, such as "How to Be Well Groomed" and "What to Do on a Date." You probably won’t find a more eclectic and odd collection anywhere.
This collection of advertising-supported movies is more apt to have movies from recent decades. More recent movies are typically available for a set period and then expire, to be replaced by new titles. Currently available are well-known films such as Rudy, Ali, The Legend of Zorro, Roxanne, Birdy, The Net, The China Syndrome, About Last NIght, Crash, La Bamba, and The Cable Guy. Crackle also has original shows and films, including Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. TV shows include Seinfeld, Married with Children, Dilbert, All in the Family, and The Larry Sanders Show. There are regular commercial interruptions during the movies, which is the tradeoff for free content. But the amount of ads is less than you’d see on network TV.
Free Classic Movies
If you’re a fan of film history, this is the collection for you. Many of the classics of cinema are here, such as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Orson Welles’s The Stranger, Charlie Chaplin’s The Vagabond, Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, and Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. Silent movies include Trip to the Moon from 1902, Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood, and movies by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Other offerings include film noir and cartoons.
Viki has a large selection of international movies and TV shows, mostly from Korea and China, but also other countries such as Japan, India, and the U.S., with subtitles available. In my experience there’s no commercial interruption. The app also has a selection of TV shows. You can sort content by country. TV series from the U.S. include classics such as The Lucy Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Ozzie and Harriet, Popeye, Felix the Cat, Casper the Friendly Ghost, The Lone Ranger, and The Adventures of Robin Hood.
This app has over 100 movies that are in the public domain that you can sort by director, actor, writer, and year, as well as by genre. Classic movies include those with Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire, Laurel & Hardy, Abbot & Costello, and Kirk Douglas.
This app claims to have the biggest collection of free classic films and movies, silent films, comedy, and film noir, as well as a selection of science fiction and horror movies. As with a number of other apps, you’ll find Night of the Living Dead, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Lady Frankenstein, and House on a Haunted Hill. The app uses the Internet Archive as a streaming source for all of the movies.
This app offers free Anime in addition to movies and TV shows. Content is ad-supported, with commercials both at the beginning and during the videos. This app is somewhat different from the others in that many of the movies and TV shows are independent or foreign-language originals that haven’t had a theatrical release or haven’t been shown on regular TV channels.
This app simulates a cable TV service. Instead of movies/shows on demand, it has a viewing guide with channels, with specific programs streaming at specific times. The viewing guide is organized into categories, with the Memory Lane category including the channels Drive-In Movies, Classic Movies, Shout TV, and Mystery Science Theater 3000. Currently playing as I write this are Son of Rambow, Sherlock Holmes: Terror by Night, H.G. Wells: The Invisible Man, Route 66, and The Castle of FuManchu.
SnagFilms has over 5,000 independent movies, TV shows, and documentaries you can stream. With popular documentaries such as Super Size Me and well-known independent movies like Visioneers and Brooklyn Rules, there’s lots of opportunity to discover movie gems. Named the “Best iPad Video App” by the Huffington Post, there’s sure to be something for everyone.
Tubi TV has some surprisingly recent films for a free movie watching app. The company behind the app is able to do this by monetizing with commercial interruptions. It may be a trade-off, but for free quality content, it’s worth it. Like Anime? Tubi TV streams new anime the day after it’s released in Japan. It also has a selection of Korean dramas and exclusive categories such as, “Highly Rated on Rotten Tomatoes”.
These ten apps offer you a lot of free entertainment. If we've missed any great free apps that offer free movies and TV shows, let us know in the comments.