New TV and movie streaming services are cropping up every day. Yet, free and legal streaming is still a rarity – so much so that it seems too good to be true. But Sony Crackle is a reality. This ad-supported streaming service is completely free of charge in the US and Australia and has been around for almost a decade. A subscription based ad-free version is also available in many Latin American countries. But if you haven’t heard of Sony Crackle until now it might be because it has changed its name several times – first Grouper, then Crackle and now Sony Crackle. It is reportedly set for another rebrand as Crackle Plus under new majority ownership by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment.
However, it has improved over the years and currently offers a good variety of well-known movies and TV shows. So, if you are looking for something fun and free to do this weekend, we’ll explain how to stream on Sony Crackle, its pros and cons, and recommend some content that is worth checking out. Let’s get started!
How to stream movies and shows on Sony Crackle
One of the great things about Sony Crackle is that you can stream movies and shows on a huge variety of devices. You can access it on your PC through the service’s website, on your tablet or smartphone via its Android or iOS app. It’s even available on a variety of smart TVs and game consoles, including PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV, and more.
The interface is minimalist and easy to use. On the front page of the website and mobile app you will find featured films and shows, but you can also sort by recently added, most popular, as well by genre or alphabetically. Among the movies and TV series you will also find trailers and clips.
As previously mentioned, all of these are available for your viewing pleasure free of charge. You don’t even have to make an account on Sony Crackle. However, we recommend getting one anyway, since it allows you to create a Watch Later list and you won’t have to repeatedly enter your birth date when trying to watch R-rated movies.
Movie and show selection
If everything so far sounds good, you might be asking yourself if the content on the platform is great too. While by no means rivaling the vast library of the likes of Netflix and Hulu, Sony Crackle does have some tricks up its sleeve. The streaming service has around 150 feature-length movies and 75 series you can choose from.
Crackle content is regularly rotated – some films and shows are removed, while new ones are added. It might not sound like much at first, but there is something for everyone. Action and comedy or mashups of both are particularly prominent – you can enjoy cult classics like Starship Troopers, Kung Fu Hustle and Zombieland, for example. Interestingly, there also is a great selection of Japanese anime series and movies, including classics like Satoshi Kon’s Paprika and Tokyo Godfathers, and popular shows like Steins Gate.
You can also stumble on critically acclaimed Hollywood films like Whiplash or the ever popular “show about nothing” Seinfeld. So, while the selection is not huge, you can discover some cool content that you would rarely find anywhere else. This also holds true because Sony Crackle has launched and will continue launching new original series such as The Oath, which explores a world of crime and gangs. The show already has two seasons and is executive-produced by 50 Cent. It also stars Ryan Kwanten, who you probably know from HBO’s hit series True Blood.
As you can see, Crackle is definitely worth checking out, especially because you don’t lose anything by doing so. It’s free! The only complaint anyone might have is the overall video quality – it’s by no means 4K, but it was more than decent when we tested it on a laptop and a tablet.
What about the ads?
So, there has to be a catch, right? As previously mentioned, Sony Crackle is ad-supported in the US and Australia. While there’s nothing wrong with this business model – we’ve seen it conquer the app market — some users will be inevitably annoyed by the frequency of the ads.
Ad breaks are as common as those on TV, but the commercials themselves are often shorter. You will usually have to sit through a 30 second advertisement before your movie or episode of choice begins. This will be followed by 2-3 shorter ads if you are watching a show, but up to nine if you are watching a film longer than 1h 30 min. However, we wouldn’t really consider this a major con – more of an inconvenience. After all, there are paid subscription streaming services that also serve advertisements, while Sony Crackle is free. The only major annoyance comes from the fact that ads can interrupt crucial movie moments very abruptly.
Ad breaks are as common as those on TV, but the commercials themselves are often shorter.
Of course, Sony Crackle’s business model also means that you cannot download movies or shows for later offline viewing. While that might be disappointing to some, it’s understandable considering the service relies on ads for its revenue and currently has no premium, ad-free version in the US and Australia.
But at the end of the day the commercials are worth sitting through – Sony Crackle is a convenient streaming service, which might not replace Netflix and Hulu for you, but it can definitely fill some gaps and provide you with hours of entertainment.
Read next: The 10 best action movies on Netflix
Have you tried Sony Crackle? What was your favorite film or show on the platform? Let us know in the comments.