I was recently helping a disabled Vietnam veteran with a not so unusual problem. He wanted to be able to watch live streaming sports events for free. His favorite free streaming live sports website now showed a frightening image stating that the domain had been seized by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) for copyright infringement. Since he was living on his disability income, money was in short supply and the various legitimate subscription websites were beyond his means. The cost to watch all of his favorite football and basketball games that were unavailable on his TV was prohibitive, considering his personal circumstances.
I did a search of the free streaming sports websites, and while there were several including NFL.com that displayed videos of past games, I was suspicious of those that offered free streaming of live games, as ICE, along with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, have been actively seizing domains and servers and arresting the purveyors engaged in intellectual property theft.
Somewhat discouraged, he asked about getting free TV and movies on his smart device, a gift from his daughter. I showed him the free content on Hulu (hulu.com), and the free full-length movies and TV shows on YouTube. While lacking the live broadcast TV shows and sports, they did have the capability of providing countless hours of entertainment without incurring any significant expense.
I later showed him another free streaming service that is explicitly for Apple iOS and Android smart devices, including phones and tablets, and it quickly became his favorite source of free online entertainment, TV and movies. Crackle (crackle.com) is a free download from the iTunes and Play Google stores. While not as comprehensive as Hulu or YouTube, Crackle does offer a respectable selection of movie and TV titles. The Crackle app for both Apple and Android smart devices has been downloaded more than 13 million times. The most recent Android release on Oct. 24 and the Apple release on Nov. 3 incorporated several improvements and enhancements, as well as better video quality. The newest version of Crackle supports HDMI out such that, if the smart device is so equipped, it can play on most modern TVs and other HDMI equipped devices. There are also free versions of Crackle available for the Nook Tablet, Kindle Fire, Windows smart phones, Roku boxes, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360 consoles.
In terms of full-length TV shows, Crackle has classics such as All in the Family with the ubiquitous Archie Bunker, Married With Children with Chicago’s most famous shoe-man Al Bundy, the acclaimed 1967 series of an imprisoned former secret agent Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner, and dozens of other TV series from the U.S. and Japan. The clichéd phrase “Dyno-mite” can be heard on Good Times, while 13 full episodes of Rescue Me dramatize the life of a post 9/11 New York firefighter, both available on Crackle. Sanford & Son and The Three Stooges offer a lot of humor on Crackle, but one of the most popular TV series, Seinfeld, is also available on Crackle. Dana Carvey provides Crackle viewers with satirical comedy sketches, while dozens of other TV series complete the full episode TV offerings. The TV offerings on Crackle are dynamic, in that they frequently change with new shows being added and some shows cycling off Crackle. A link on the top of the TV page will show the most recently added shows, while some other shows indicate the date that they will be leaving Crackle.
Crackle offers more than 300 full-length, uncut movies of all genres. As when watching the TV networks, the movies on Crackle are periodically interrupted for a commercial; it is this sponsorship that keeps Crackle free to the user. While many of them are lesser-known titles, some were box office successes. Movie fans will recognize Jacqueline Bisset and Robert Shaw in the Bermuda treasure thriller “The Deep,” while the camp comedy classic “The Gods Must Be Crazy” dramatizes the effect a Coke bottle can have on a primitive society. Serpent loving horror aficionados may appreciate the nine different Godzilla movies available along with a companion pair of Mothra movies, while zombie followers will appreciate the cult classic “Night of the Living Dead.” Michael Chiklis, currently known for his parts in The Commish, The Shield, and Vegas plays Curly in the 2000 biography “The Three Stooges,” as seen from Moe’s perspective.
Crackle also offers 44 different “original series,” many with multiple episodes. One humorous but risqué original series is Crash Comedy with Charlie Murphy, Eddie Murphy’s brother. The popular Las Vegas and television magician Penn Jillette has an original series of 58 short but snappy satirical commentaries on controversial subjects in The Best of Penn Says. Unabashed and often politically incorrect, Jillette leaves no doubts as to where he stands on issues, often injecting comedy and satire into his analyses.
For those willing to put up with the same commercial interruptions as they have on the network channels on their home TV, Crackle is a worthy free app for Android, Apple and Windows smart devices, including phones and tablets as well Kindle Fire, Nook, Roku, Playstation 2 and Xbox 360. With over 300 full-length movies and over a thousand episodes from dozens of TV series, as well as original content, Crackle is definitely worth a try.