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What happened when I watched free TV for a week


Free TV isn’t enough for me.

(Image credit: Comcast/NBC)

In light of skyrocketing gas and food prices, many individuals are seeking for methods to save money and reduce their spending. Cutting back on entertainment costs, such as cable and streaming subscriptions, is a typical strategy to save money. I eventually got rid of my cable bill last year and replaced it with Sling, our top cable alternative.

A few months ago, I realised that my streaming subscriptions totaled as much as a monthly cable cost. At the time, I was spending $133.44 a month on 11 different services. So, I’ve come up with a strategy to “churn” some of the subscriptions I’ve got: I’ll cancel them then resubscribe once a favourite programme comes back on, then cancel again when it’s finished.


However, the savings are still limited. It will still cost me $15 a month even if I quit Netflix and join up for two services for the price of one. When inflation is at its highest, even that might feel steep. It might be hard to justify spending money on entertainment if you’re severely strapped for cash. I’m not sure how many dreary nights I’d save by completely quitting.

My experiment was simple: Could I get by viewing solely free television? It’s entirely unrestricted. Non-recurring charges. There has been no financial outlay. It’s still necessary to have a gadget and an internet connection, but most of us already have them.)

For a week, I gave it a go. Listed here are the facts.


The free streaming services I used

In the beginning, I established a set of rules for the experiment that mirrored my own television viewing habits. At least one three-hour binge-watching session was required of me each day. I was also unable to access any premium services, such as Netflix, HBO GO, or Disney XD.

In the end, I downloaded all of them, but only used four: Peacock Free (on Amazon), Amazon Freevee (on The Roku Channel), and Pluto TV (on the Roku).

There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Peacock is the most well-known, because to NBCUniversal’s rich history supporting it. Most of the series and movies I was interested in seeing were only available in the Premium tier, despite the fact that the Free tier had a tonne of content.


The upselling — offering me a taste of something, then withholding the remainder until I paid for a membership — was the most aggravating part of the process. It was possible for me to view one episode of Yellowstone, a western smash, without paying for premium membership. It’s at least possible for me to watch the first five seasons of The Office and the first two seasons of Parks and Recreation on Netflix.

In light of Peacock’s lacklustre offering, let’s take a look at Freevee, Amazon’s freshly rebranded service that offers a slew of better titles. Knives Out, The Invisible Man, and Emma are all classics from a bygone era with superior production values. Freevee also offers a wide variety of free TV shows, including Mad Men, Lost, and originals like Bosch: Legacy.

As far as original programming goes, the Roku Channel is playing catch-up, although a few of the Quibi heritage shows are excellent. The remainder of their library includes a mix of vintage sitcoms, dramas, and films, similar to what you’d find on other free streaming platforms.


When it came to Pluto TV, I basically utilised it as “laundry folding TV.” It’s easy to discover anything to watch because to the large number of live channels. From Midsomer Murders to Inside Llewyn Davis, I sat in on a variety of films and television productions in process.

Surprise, the ads didn’t drive me too crazy

Because nothing in life is truly free, you’ll have to sit through advertisements when using free streaming services. Advertisements such as this one can’t be skipped. It varies from provider to service, but most have between four and eight commercials every hour.

One of the main obstacles to converting only to FAST is this (free ad-supported streaming television). I was apprehensive about being bombarded with advertising for automobiles, auto insurance, medications, fast food, housewares, and personal care products throughout my week-long trial.


I was shocked that the advertising didn’t drive me insane, despite how annoying they were. There were far fewer ads than streamers claim, in most situations. During the first hour of Bridesmaids and 90 seconds of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I only saw approximately a minute and a half of commercials on Roku.

Ads on Freevee are meant to last eight minutes, however I only lasted around five minutes while watching a Hart Of Dixie episode. Additionally, the service flags episodes with fewer commercials, and I only saw around three minutes of them in Mad Men’s latest episode.

While I was watching the Survivor channel, Pluto played a few two- or three-minute advertisements every hour or so.


This is in accordance with the two minutes and forty six seconds of Peacock advertising that appeared during an episode of The Office (one of which promoted other Peacock content).

Ad time for an hour-long broadcast is just about five minutes on average. Broadcast and cable TV often run 20 minutes of commercials each hour, so this is a far cry from that.

It wasn’t the commercials that were the most frustrating element of my week of free television. FOMO was a term used to describe the fear of missing out.


Free TV saves money but leaves you out of the zeitgeist

A few things have become clear to me as my week of FASTing comes to an end. To begin, there is an abundance of free streaming entertainment, some of which is excellent. Enjoy your old favourites or catch up on films you missed the first time around. Rewatching Mad Men on Freevee seems like a good idea to me. There were 20-plus commercial breaks when AMC initially showed shows, so three minutes today feels like a drop in the bucket.

(Image credit: Netflix)

In the second place, the advertising are obnoxious, yet tolerable This is a good trade-off for not having to pay for material, as long as the services restrict them to an hourly rate of less than eight minutes.

Finally, my biggest complaint has nothing to do with the free services that are offered. Stranger Things and Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ms. Marvel as well as the other premium streaming services were all spoken about this week by my friends, coworkers and random online strangers.


Cutting Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney Plus from your budget doesn’t just mean you lose access to their content—you also lose the chance to engage in face-to-face or virtual watercooler discourse. In my opinion, that’s an unjustifiably high price to pay. However, you may be prepared to give it up in exchange for some more cash in the bank.

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