Free trial or deals: 3-month free trial for standard subscribers, 1-month free trial for family and student subscribers (more info on free stuff from YouTube below)
No funds, no problem: Free streaming services and alternatives
If you’re on a shoestring budget or simply don’t want to pay for what you watch, there are free (and totally legal!) alternatives available.
YouTube is the most popular streaming service online, and it offers endless hours of video. We covered the paid plans on premium services above, but YouTube can also be a trusty, free choice for hours of entertainment—you may just have to endure some ads (some are skippable, though!). You can watch a variety of free videos through the YouTube Originals channel, such as The Mandela Project, Seat at the Table, Onyx Family Dinner, The Outsiders and Demi Lovato’s Dancing with the Devil. You can also watch YouTube stars like Marques Brownlee, Liza Koshy and Rhett & Link from Good Mythical Morning.
Into gaming? Twitch is the platform for streaming and watching gaming content. Watch prominent gaming streamers, including Ninja, auronplay, Rubius, ibai and xQc, along with staple gaming channels, such as IGN and GameSpot. Ninja is the top streamer on the platform with 18.4 million followers, and auronplay is in the second spot with 14.1 million followers. Twitch also features emotes (or emoticons), including the popular <3 (Twitch heart), PogChamp, LUL, 5Head, CurseLit and many others you can download and use. You don’t need to register for an account to watch streams on the desktop version of Twitch, but you’ll need to if you’re streaming through the app.
There’s a lot to like with Tubi, which offers more than 45,000 movies and TV shows, along with over 100 local and live news channels. Prominent shows on the platform include MasterChef Canada, Kitchen Nightmares, Hell’s Kitchen and Forensic Files. Tubi is a division of media giant Fox Entertainment, whose network has over 400 entertainment partners from major Hollywood studios. You do not need to register an account to stream Tubi, but having one allows you to queue up movies and save them for later. With a strong content library, Tubi is a great free choice for streaming. However, you will have to endure short commercials (remember those?).
Kanopy is a streaming service that’s available through public libraries in Canada, as long as you have a library card (if you’re a student, you can access it through your college or university, too). Offering both entertaining and educational content, the platform has a unique video selection, including Canadian and independent cinema. Titles include Memento, Maurice, Boy, Sesame Street, Franklin, Quartet, Small Town Murder Songs and Iqaluit. Independent shows and films include Silo, The Phone Call and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Though nowhere near the size of YouTube or Twitch, Dailymotion has features worth checking out. The site has four dedicated verticals: news, sports, entertainment and music. Prominent news publications like The Canadian Press, Vogue and Teen Vogue have channels.
Is streaming cheaper than cable?
Interested in knowing how streaming costs stack up against cable? Assuming you already pay around $70 for internet service each month, here’s what it will cost you to add a streaming service (or two) to that expense. Keep in mind prices will vary depending on where you live and the plans you choose. The chart below compares the streamers’ fees with the average costs of cable plans.