See at Peacock

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Best for streaming TV shows and movies

Peacock


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See at Crackle

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Best for streaming older movies and TV shows

Crackle


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See at Nike

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Best for exercising

Nike Training Club


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As the cost of household staples keeps going up, you may be looking for ways to stretch your dollars. That means subscriptions for streaming, groceries and other services could be on the chopping block.

Popular apps like Netflix are raising prices while offering new choices like a cheaper, ad-based tier. And Peloton raised its subscription prices in June (while lowering the up-front cost of buying a bike). But it still might not be enough to make a dent in your monthly budget.

Many services you’re paying for — including Hulu, Apple Music, Grubhub and DoorDash — can be swapped for free alternatives. You might not end up with the exact same product, but you can often get pretty darn close. And it might be worth trying if it allows you to stretch your budget further.

Unlike their paid counterparts, many of these free services operate with ads and the streaming services won’t let you download content to watch or listen to them offline. But some have deals and decent free trials that you can take advantage of now.

Here’s how to replace many of the services you pay for with the best free subscription services we’ve found. 

Replaces: Hulu

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service that debuted in spring 2020, offers a free, ad-supported tier with about 10,000 hours of content, including TV shows, movies, and some live news and sports. You’ll get episodes of current NBC shows like La Brea the week after they air. You can also find past seasons of Yellowstone free on Peacock.

You can sign up for the free version of Peacock without a credit card. You’ll need to upgrade to premium (which costs $5 a month with ads, or $10 a month without ads) to watch full seasons of shows like The Office, Young Rock, Vampire Academy and Premier League soccer highlights. You won’t find a ton of brand-new movies, either. But the free tier is a great way to discover shows and films you might have missed the first time around, or want to watch again.

Replaces: Netflix

Crackle is an ad-supported streaming service that offers movies and some TV shows, including original content. You can find a variety of movies including Train to Busan, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In terms of TV, you’ll find more than 100 different shows, including a lot of classics such as Highway to Heaven, Alf and Benson. But not every series has all seasons available.

You can stream on Crackle without signing up for an account, and can watch on virtually any device, with apps for all mobile platforms, game consoles and any major streaming device. If you do create an account, you can save favorites, get recommendations and resume playback if you switch between devices.

Replaces: Hulu Plus Live TV (or your whole cable subscription)

One big caveat here: Much of the programming on Pluto isn’t the same live TV channels you’ll find on pay cable or satellite, even if the channels have the same names. So, while news junkies will find live programming from CBSN, NBC News Now and Bloomberg TV, Pluto’s versions of MTV, AMC and CNN are time-shifted or alternate programming from those providers.

Ultimately, none of that matters, because you’re still getting a wealth of streaming video that’s truly free (it’s ad-supported, of course). There are more than 250 channels, including dedicated stations for CSI, Hallmark movies, Classic Doctor Who and The Walking Dead. And because there are literally dozens of in-progress streams to toggle through in real-time, Pluto offers the best analog to flipping through the myriad channels on a traditional cable system (or paid streaming alternative, like Hulu). You can also browse channels by categories like news, sports, comedy and movies, and find on-demand TV content, though it’s mostly crime and reality shows.

Replaces: Your gym, or Peloton

Nike Training Club is a free app for iOS and Android with more than 300 home workouts and programs to help you set a workout schedule. You can filter routines based on what equipment you have at home, and find bodyweight-only exercises, yoga and training programs.

Replaces: Online classes

MasterClass offers thousands of online lessons taught by veritable masters in their fields — we’re talking Gordon Ramsey on cooking, Ken Burns on documentary making and Helen Mirren on acting. While an annual membership costs $180, you can find a series of free courses called MasterClass Live available now. These include a session on building suspenseful thrillers with Dan Brown, gymnastics fundamentals and mindset training from Simone Biles and beauty tips from industry mogul Bobbi Brown.

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