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Best Free Movie Streaming Sites – 2021

Best Free Movie Streaming Sites – 2021

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There are many options for video streaming entertainment today. So much so that many people now don’t bother with a cable TV subscription in order to watch movies and TV shows. However, you don’t need to pay to watch movies online because there are plenty of streaming sites that offer free movies.

Some streaming sites that charge people to watch movies or TV shows also have free movies available. Other streaming services offer free movies and TV series but charge a premium for the latest entertainment.

You probably know about fee-charging streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. Those big streaming services have big advertising budgets, which streaming services that offer free movies don’t have. So, you are less likely to have heard of free movie streaming sites, which is why we decided to make this guide available.

The expensive video streaming sites have the money to pay for the exclusive broadcast rights to the very latest movies. The high costs of those rights to popular movies are out of the reach of free movie streaming sites. So, don’t expect to be able to watch the latest Hollywood movie blockbusters or new releases from Disney. Free movie sites are more likely to show classic movies, original content that is in the public domain, and different genres that cater to niche markets, such as anime or Bollywood movies.

The best free movie streaming websites 

You can waste a lot of time looking for movie streaming sites that will let you watch free movies and TV shows. However, we have tracked down the best site to save you from trawling through all of the streaming services out there. Here is our list of the best free movie streaming site in 2021:

  1. Crackle
  2. Popcornflix
  3. Vudu
  4. Tubi TV
  5. Pluto TV
  6. CONtv
  7. Classic Cinema Online
  8. YouTube
  9. Kanopy
  10. Hoopla

You can read more about each of these options to stream movies in the following sections.


1. Crackle

Crackle used to be a division of Sony, so you might see it referred to as “Sony Crackle.” However, Sony has sold off a majority stake in the free streaming site and now it is just called Crackle. The company that took over Crackle is called Chicken Soup for the Soul and it specializes in publishing self-help and motivational books. This ethos extends to the Crackle free video streaming service. 

What makes it different

Most of the streaming site’s original content is streamed in HD quality. The user-friendly homepage makes searching for your favorite movies as easy as ABC.  The TV shows are mostly in the real-life motivational and self-help TV series category, which are high quality productions. It includes reruns of TV series and movies. 

Pros

  • You can watch free movies on this streaming service. 
  • You don’t need to set up an account on this free streaming service in order to what free movies and TV shows. 
  • Signing up for a free account gives you features such as a tailored video library on your homepage.
  • You can watch Crackle through a web browser, straight to a smart TV, through a streaming device, such as Roku or Fire TV and there are also mobile apps for video streaming on Android and iOS devices.

Cons

  • Crackle is only available in the USA and Australia.

2. Popcornflix

Sometimes written as Popcorn Flix, this free video streaming service is ad-supported. It has a large library of full-length movies, with most of them being old. However, the site does also have original content and, although it has TV shows, the new release free movies on this streaming service are its biggest draw.

What makes it different

Signing up for an account isn’t compulsory in order to stream movies through a web browser. However, accounts are available and they are free. 

Pros

  • All of the content on Popcornflix is free 
  • Popcornflix includes short films from new directors as well as popular movie genres such as Thriller, Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Family, and Comedy
  • You can watch movies through a web browser, a mobile app for iOS devices, Roku, and Fire TV devices
  • You can stream movies through an Xbox or PlayStation 3 game console

Cons

  • Popcornflix will only allow video streaming to people located in the USA and Canada. 

3. Vudu

Vudu is a video rental service that delivers through a streaming service. It is owned by Walmart. The majority of the content on this movie website is charged for, but you can also watch free movies here. Look out for the Vudu Movies on Us section, or just search for free movies – there are quite a lot on there. The video quality is good, with a lot of movies in HD quality or above and there are also videos of TV shows available to watch.

The new release blockbusters are all for rent or buy, but there are a lot of classic movies on the site and even some different genres, such as anime and Bollywood movies.

What makes it different

Signing up costs nothing and you can also just browse the popular movies for rent even if you don’t intend to watch them. 

Pros

  • Vudu will stream straight to smart TVs and you can also watch movies from Vudu on a TV set through Roku, Apple TV, Android TV boxes, and Fire TV devices 
  • Vudu will stream through an Xbox or a PlayStation games console as well
  • You can watch movies at the Vudu site through a web browser or through a mobile app for Android or iOS devices
  • It is possible to stream from a web browser or the mobile app onto a TV set with Google Chromecast

Cons

  • Vudu will only stream movies to locations within the United States

4. Tubi TV

Tubi TV is really just called Tubi, but everyone refers to it as Tubi TV. It is the largest free movie and TV series streaming service in the USA. The service has recently been acquired by Fox corporation.

The video streaming library of Tubi TV contains more than 20,000 free movies and TV shows. The streaming service is available in the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, and Australia. 

What makes it different

Signing up to the service is very easy. You need to give your name, date of birth, and email address. The email address has to be real because you will be sent a verification email before your account is activated.

Pros

  • You can stream free movies and TV series directly through a smart TV or channel it from the internet through Roku, Amazon Fire TV devices, Android TV boxes, and through an Xfinity or Cox hub
  • Xbox and PlayStation games consoles can be used to stream movies from Tubi TV onto a TV screen. 
  • It is possible to watch Tubi TV through a website or a mobile app, which installs on Android and iOS. 
  • Video streams through web browsers or the mobile app can be sent to a TV screen through the Google Chromecast system

Cons

  • The service isn’t accessible from Europe

5. Pluto TV

Pluto TV is completely free of charge and you don’t need to go to the trouble of signing up because you don’t need an account to watch movies or TV shows with this video streaming service.

The homepage of Pluto TV is organized as a live TV service. Although Pluto TV doesn’t carry well-known TV channels like cable TV providers do, Pluto TV creates its own channels with some very good free movies and TV series.

What makes it different

There are more than 200 live TV channels in this free video streaming service and many of them are movie channels. This is one of the best free movie sites around and it includes many popular movies and Hollywood movie blockbusters, although you won’t get those big new releases until they have been in circulation for a while. 

Pros

  • Pluto TV has a large video on demand library so you can watch movies to your heart's content and pay nothing
  • You can watch Pluto TV on the website through a web browser
  • Popup blockers don’t block the video streaming player
  • There are mobile apps for Android and iOS from Pluto TV and you can send the stream from a browser or the mobile app to a TV with Google Chromecast
  • Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV devices, Android TV boxes, Xfinity hub, Xboxes, and PlayStations can all stream video from Pluto TV, and smart TVs can get the streaming service directly from your internet connection

Cons

  • The TV guide menu doesn’t work very well in a browser

6. CONtv

If you have heard about Viewster and wonder where it has gone, it has shut down and it has been bundled into CONtv. you might have heard about Viewster if you are a big anime fan because that streaming service has its own anime channel. However, CONtv would be your best bet for anime now.

The CONtv streaming service is ad supported. This movie website is great for Sci-Fi, thriller, and Horror fans. The website was originally set up to serve the attendants of Comic-Con events. 

What makes it different

You need to go through the process of signing up for an account to watch movies on CONtv, but it’s a very straightforward process and there’s no charge. 

The homepage is organized to look identical to Netflix. You scroll through the categories of free movies and then click on a title that interests you to get more information. Click on it again to watch the movie in your web browser.

Pros

  • As well as being available through web browsers, this free movie streaming service can be channelled directly on a smart TV
  • CONtv can be streamed through Roku, Amazon Fire TV devices, Android TV boxes, and mobile apps for Android and iOS
  • Forward the video stream from your video browser or mobile app onto a TV screen with Google Chromecast

Cons

  • The service stops working on mobile devices when you travel outside of the USA

7. Classic Cinema Online

As the name suggests, Classic Cinema Online shows classic movies. These are not just old movies but very old. However, the site has a large library of free movies from the 1930s and before. It even has a whole segment for silent classic movies. Movie types include Horror, Thriller, Comedy, and some very clunky low-tech Sci-Fi.

What makes it different

If you are into old movies then this is the movie website for you. The video stream is of high quality so, the lower resolution of these old films is still watchable. 

Pros

  • The video stream plays on the movie site through a video player, which you can expand to full screen on your computer
  • TYou can stream the classic movies from your web browser to a TV with Google Chromecast

Cons

  • There isn’t a mobile app for this streaming service

8. YouTube TV

Cord cutters are turning to live TV streaming services or on demand movie streaming sites as an alternative to cable TV services. One of the competitors in the cable TV replacement market is YouTube TV. That is a subscription service. However, back on the old YouTube, you can watch movies and TV shows for free.

YouTube has been around for a long time and it has a winning formula. Although the site is meant to show user-generated original content that is in the public domain, there are a lot of movies and TV series on there, too.

YouTube is a property of Google and its big money backing and longevity means it is a survivor in the video streaming industry and has ended up being a host for other streaming services. For example, SnagFilms used to run its own free video streaming service but has now shut down its movie website and just operates a channel on YouTube instead.

What makes it different

You don’t need to sign up for an account in order to watch movies on YouTube, you just have the challenge of finding them. However, once you have found one free movie that you like, the system will organize a playlist of similar content for you to watch. The homepage of the streaming site also has suggestions for videos that are popular.

Pros

  • YouTube can be picked up directly on smart TVs
  • A YouTube player is loaded onto most Android TV boxes
  • The site can be accessed through any web browser 
  • There are also YouTube mobile apps for Android and iOS
  • You can channel YouTube through Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices and you can also get it on a TV screen from your web browser or mobile app by using Google Chromecast

Cons

  • There are millions of videos on the site, so you would need to know the name of a movie and search for it in order to find something to watch
  • A lot of the videos on YouTube are not streamed in high quality

9. Kanopy

Kanopy doesn’t show Hollywood blockbusters but you should be able to find some great popular movies on the site. The HD quality of the video streaming system makes for very enjoyable viewing. 

What makes it different

Kanopy has a special niche, shared with Hoopla (below). It rents videos for free on its streaming services and charges local libraries for the exposition. You need to have a library card to set up an account with this movie website but it costs nothing to join.

Pros

  • You can watch videos on the site through a web browser
  • There is a mobile app for Android and iOS devices
  • Roku, Apple TV, and Android TV boxes and it can also be picked up on smart TVs

Cons

  • Not every local library subscribes to the service

10. Hoopla

Hoopla has the same business model as Kanopy – its streaming service is free to users, but the local library of the viewer pays a fee for each play. If your local library doesn’t subscribe to Kanopy, it might use Hoopla instead.

What makes it different

As well as movie streaming, Hoopla has a library of audiobooks, music, and eBooks and all of these can be accessed through the rental concept that mimics the lending library book borrowing methodology.

There are some popular movies to choose from on the site as well as short films, children’s entertainment. There is even some good Hollywood-level blockbuster content on there because 

Pros

  • The streaming service has broadcast contracts with Disney, Starz, and Warner Bros
  • Video streams are high quality 
  • The service can be streamed through web browsers or mobile apps for iOS and Android devices

Cons

  • You can’t join if your library hasn’t signed up for the service

What about Popcorn Time and Putlocker?

Popcorn Time and Putlocker are torrent-based movie websites and streaming services. They don’t hold any of the movies that they make available. Instead, they are torrent tracker hosts and the videos streamed through them are sourced from many private computers all over the world. Each of these movie websites includes a video player. So, really they are torrent clients fronted by video players that stream the file immediately rather than saving it.

Unfortunately, like most torrent systems, Putlocker and Popcorn Time don’t have the broadcast rights to any of the content that they stream and neither do any of the sources of the movies that you might watch for free on those systems. So, these are pirate video streaming services.

Best Streaming Services for Sports – 2021

Best Streaming Services for Sports – 2021

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Sports networks are usually included with cable TV and satellite TV premium packages. The quality of sports fixtures offered by basic cable or free TV channels usually isn’t too good. Live TV broadcasts of sporting events are now almost exclusive to high-cost sports channels and many headline live games are now even being excluded from those high-priced sports channels, only available to view live as pay-per-view ticketed events.

Live TV and on-demand streaming services offer some of the best opportunities to get access to live sports fixtures and watch the experts give insights into how games can be strategized.

When considering streaming services for sports, there are two topics to consider:

  • What are the best streaming services for sports?
  • What are the best streaming TV packages for sports?

In this guide, I will cover the best sports streaming services and then which TV streaming service packages are the best options to get those specialist sports channels online.

What are the best sports streaming services?

Even within the category of sports streaming services, there are two divisions: sports channels run by specific sports organizations and sports networks that cover a range of sports.

First, here are the best streaming services for specific sports that gives access to live games streaming and sporting event virtual tickets:

  1. MLB Network
  2. NHL Network
  3. NFL Network (including NFL RedZone)
  4. NBA TV (including NBA League Pass)
  5. UFC (including UFC Fight Pass)

Here are the best TV sports networks that offer streaming services:

  1. ESPN (including ESPNU)
  2. NBC Sports Network (NBC SN)
  3. Fox Sports
  4. CBS Sports Network
  5. BEIN sports
  6. SEC network

Getting access to live games is a complicated pursuit. Many leagues sell off the rights to certain fixtures to one network, other rights to other channels, and retain rights to some games for live streaming on their own streaming services. Live TV coverage of sporting events is the most sought-after service for sports fans. Possessing the exclusive right to show live games can make or break a broadcaster and bidding is fierce for headline sporting events.

The winners of the rights to the big sporting events have to bid high and they pass that cost on to their customers. That applies to live streaming services, cable TV channels, and over-the-air channels, such as NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox. In the case of streaming services and satellite and cable TV channels, that cost is passed on in higher prices for those premium sports channels. ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox recover their costs by increasing the price of advertising slots during the broadcasting of live sports events.

Which are the best TV streaming services for sports?

The best sports streaming services are those that have the most licenses to top sporting events and they are more expensive to subscribe to. Each individual subscriber needs to examine the channel lineup in each package and decide on a budget. If you are prepared to opt for second-chance recorded coverage of sporting events rather than watch live games, the cost of the TV service becomes much cheaper. While the specialist league sports streaming services can be subscribed to directly, general sports channels usually don’t sell to the public directly. Even when they have live streaming or on demand libraries on their sites, they require visitors to log in with their TV package details before allowing them to watch any content.

The best TV streaming services for sports fans are:

  1. FuboTV
  2. AT&T TV Now (DirecTV Now)
  3. Hulu + Live TV
  4. Sling TV (Sling Orange or Sling Blue)
  5. YouTube TV

In all of these cases, you get the option of different TV channel lineups at different subscription prices per month. These TV services also include general entertainment channels, such as ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, TNT, and the Disney Channel.

Look into the add-on options that some of these TV services offer. Some special interest sports channels, such as the Golf Channel or the Olympic Channel might be part of a higher channel lineup package or could be available as add-ons. Premium entertainment channels such as HBO, Showtime, or Starz are also available as add-ons to these TV services.

These TV services also often include local channels that have local sports features and regional sports networks. They fully substitute for satellite or cable TV packages. These live TV streaming services are becoming increasingly attractive to people looking for an alternative to traditional TV service. This movement is called “cord cutting” and involves getting a TV service over the internet with a live TV streaming service.

No doubt, you will have noticed that the big-name streaming services Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max are not on our list. That is because these three streaming services don't include live TV and they have almost no sports extras to offer sports fans.

You can read more about our seven recommended TV services for sports fans in the following sections.  


1. FuboTV

FuboTV is probably the best cord-cutting TV service for sports fans and their families. It originally started out as a streaming service for soccer fans. It then expanded to cover more sports and then added on TV shows and a channel lineup to please all of the family. So, unless you live alone, you are going to need a full live TV service like fuboTV in order to get approval for the subscription from other family members.

This is a great streaming service for sports fans.

What makes it different

The channel lineup of the top package available from fuboTV includes 173 channels and addon packages can bump that number up even further.  

The standard package includes NBC SN, PAC and BEIN Sports channels, Fox Sports, the NFL Network, MSG, MSG+, and CBS Sports Network. Sports extras include a Latino sports networks package and international sports channels. Entertainment TV channels on the service include live TV from ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, and TNT. 

Pros

  • Showtime is available as an add on.
  • All plans include a cloud DVR with 500 hours of cloud DVR storage space. 
  • Each account is allowed simultaneous streams to two or three screens, depending on the package chosen.
  • FuboTV is available on any computer through a browser and there are fuboTV mobile apps for Android and iOS devices. It is possible to send the TV stream from those devices to a TV with Google Chromecast. 
  • Smart TVs can receive fuboTV and streaming devices including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TV boxes can all channel the streaming service to a TV.

Cons

  • The menu of addons is quite complicated because some plans include some of the addons.

2. AT&T TV Now (DirecTV Now)

AT&T TV Now is what used to be called DirecTV Now. This is a cord cutting service that competes directly with cable TV plans. The channel lineup of this TV service is organized into two plan options: Plus, which has 45 channels and Max which has 60 channels.

What makes it different

General entertainment channels in both plans include ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN, TNT, the Disney Channel, MTV, and local channels. Sports channels include NBC Sports Network, ESPN, MSG, MSG+, and regional sports networks. The Max package includes HBO, Cinemax, and NBC Golf.

Pros

  • HBO is available as an add on
  • Other add ons include a Spanish TV package, Starz, and Showtime  
  • AT&T TV Now also includes catch up TV 
  • AT&T TV Now has an on-demand video library
  • Can be watched on a computer through a browser or with a mobile app on Android and iOS devices – these can also send the TV stream to TV sets with Google Chromecast
  • Smart TVs can connect to AT&T Now TV over the internet and streaming devices that are compatible with AT&T TV Now include Roku, Apple TV, Android TV boxes, and Amazon Fire TV devices
  • A free cloud DVR service that can store 500 hours of TV for up to 90 days
  • Each account is allowed three simultaneous streams

Cons

  • Quite expensive

3. Hulu + Live TV

Hulu + Live TV is the higher plan of the Hulu streaming service. While Hulu is an on-demand streaming service Hulu + Live TV adds on a cord cutting cable TV replace live TV streaming service. The Live TV plan is one standard package with 65 TV channels. This can be enhanced by addons. 

What makes it different

The entertainment channels in the Live TV plan include ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, TNT, TBS, The CW, Discovery Channel, Investigation Discovery, MSNBC, Disney Channel, CNN, and Telemundo. The sports channels in the plan include NBC Sports Network, Fox Sports, CBS Sports Network, the Olympic Channel, Golf Channel, Marquee Sports Network, and ESPN. The Fox and NBC services give access to regional sports network. 

Pros

  • College sports are available in Hulu + Live TV through ESPNU, ACC Network, ACC Network Extra, CBS Sports Network, Big Ten Network, and SEC Network.
  • Addons available with Hulu + Live TV include Showtime, Starz, HBO, and Cinemax. There is also a Spanish language channel package add on, which includes ESPN Deportes.
  • Hulu + Live TV will play directly on internet-connected smart TVs. 
  • Hulu + Live TV has a mobile app for iOS and Android devices and can be watched through any browser. Those devices can channel the streaming service onto TV sets with Google Chromecast. 
  • Roku,  Android TV boxes, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV devices, the Echo Show, Xfinity Flex and Xfinity X1, Xbox 360, the Xbox One, Nintendo PlayStation 3, and Nintendo PlayStation 4 can all be used as streaming devices for Hulu + Live TV.
  • All subscribers get access to a free cloud DVR with 50 hours of storage, upgradable to 200 hours. 
  • The standard package includes two simultaneous streams, but that can be upgraded to three.

Cons

  • Add ons an really bump up the monthly price

4. Sling TV (Sling Orange or Sling Blue)

Sling TV is one of the leading TV services that caters to cord cutters. Its channel lineups are offered in two plans: Sling Blue and Sling Orange. Both include sports networks, but the sports channels in Sling Orange have higher value. Consequently, though both packages have the same price, Sling Oranges has fewer channels.

What makes it different

Sling Blue offers 50 channels, which include NBC, Fox, AMC, TNT, TBS, Bravo, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Discovery Channel, Cartoon Network, and Nick Jr, Sports channels in the package include NFL Network, NBC Sports Network, and Fox Sports. Sling Blue subscribers get access to regional sports networks.

Sling Orange has 32 TV channels, which include AMC, TNT, TBS, Bravo, CNN, MSNBC, Disney Channel, and Disney Junior. The sports channels in Sling Orange include ESPN and ESPN2.

Pros

  • Sling Blue and Sling Orange cost $30 each and you can get both for $45
  • Addons to Sling TV include MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, and NHL Network. BEIN Sports, Tennis Channel Golf Channel, Olympic Channel, and ESPNEWS are other addon options
  • Both packages offer college sports through PAC-12 Network as an addon. Sling Orange has the edge in this category because it also offers addons for ESPNU, ACC Network, ACC Network Extra, SEC Network, and Longhorn Network
  • Sling TV streams straight onto smart TVs 
  • Sling TV can be accessed through browsers and mobile apps which will forward the stream to a TV with a Google Chromecast streaming device
  • Subscribers get access to a large on demand video library and a free cloud DVR system
  • Sling Blue has an allowance of three simultaneous streams

Cons

  • Each Sling Orange account holder can only stream to one device at a time

5. YouTube TV

YouTube is a cable TV replacement service for cord cutters and is owned by Google. YouTube has been running since 2005 and is a very successful free on demand streaming service. Although it shares the same name, YouTube TV is a completely different concept to the original YouTube.  This is a TV streaming service that competes with Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV and it is the third largest TV streaming service in the United States.

The TV service has one base package and then a number of addon options. This streaming service is a good option for sports fans because it includes some high-quality sports channels.

What makes it different

YouTube TV is particularly rich in college sports networks. These include ESPNU, ACC Network, ACC Network Extra, SEC Network Big Ten Network, and CBS Sports Network, which includes college sports programming along with its professional sports service.

Other sports channels are ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, MLB Network, NBA TV, Golf Channel, the Olympic Channel, Tennis Channel, Fox Sports 1 and 2, and NBC Sports Network, which gives access to the regional sports networks. Fox Soccer Plus is available as an add on.

Entertainment TV channels in the YouTube TV package include ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, TNT, TBS, AMC, Bravo, Discovery, Investigation Discovery, FX, FXX, CNN, MSNBC, The CW, Telemundo, the Disney Channel, and Disney Junior.

Pros

  • In total, the base package of YouTube TV includes 70 TV channels. 
  • Addon channels available with YouTube TV are Starz, Showtime, EPIX, Sundance Now, and Shudder.
  • YouTube TV can be accessed from a computer through any browser. There are also YouTube TV mobile apps available for Android and iOS devices. Web browsers and mobile devices can stream YouTube TV onto a TV screen with Google Chromecast.
  • Smart TVs that are connected to the internet can access YouTube TV and a number of streaming devices are compatible with the TV streaming service. These include Roku, AirPlay, Apple TV, Android TV boxes, Amazon Fire TV devices, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
  • Each account gets access to a cloud DVR player that has unlimited storage space and will retain TV shows for up to nine months.

Cons

  • Doesn’t work on the internet when you leave the USA.

Other sports streaming services

This guide doesn’t attempt to review all of the sports streaming services out there. We have concentrated on presenting the best TV packages for those who want to switch from a cable TV service to a more sports-rich TV streaming service. If you are happy to keep your cable TV deal and you are just looking for extra sports channels, then you could consider the professional sports league networks, most of which have plans that give access from the streaming services website through a direct subscription.

Be aware though, that most of the sports leagues have sold of the rights to their biggest games to the major sports networks. So, surprisingly, you won’t be able to watch the big NFL games on the NFL Network.

Another issue to watch out for is blackouts. No doubt, you want to sign up to a sports channel so that you can watch your favorite team from the comfort of your own home. If, like most people, your favorite team is the one closest to you, there won’t be much joy to be had from subscribing to the professional sports network for that team. This is because they won’t show you live streams of the team closest to your home.

The local blackouts imposed by professional sports league streaming services are due to the initial objections that franchise holders raised when the creation of these streaming services was proposed. They argued that live streams would damage ticket sales. As a compromise, they don’t allow subscribers to watch their local team play live on the streaming services.

The MLB is particularly bad in this respect. You can’t watch your local team play at home or away. If you are traveling, you can’t watch any game involving the team that is closest to where you are located at the time of trying to access the streaming service. In short, it is better to watch sports on live streaming services through the major sports networks.

Best Free Ad Blockers for Web Browsers – 2021

Best Free Ad Blockers for Web Browsers - 2021

Advertisements on websites can be really annoying and some sites overwhelm their content by drowning them out with ads. The good news is that it is possible to filter out most of the ads on websites and improve your browsing experience by installing an ad blocker.

Ad blocking isn’t illegal but it does annoy the people who run websites. To clarify, placing advertisements on a website is not illegal. Many ad blockers are also tracker blockers, but trackers are a separate issue. Ad blockers just strip the ads out of web pages. Many of them also block trackers. They don't remove cookies -- that's also a separate issue. With retargeting, ad blockers will remove the ads in most cases.

Many information-based businesses, such as newspapers, rely entirely on the intrusive ads on their sites for revenue. The use of ad blockers has seriously damaged the profitability of those businesses. However, they need to find different income models because the use of ads on websites has gotten out of control.

As a response to ad blockers, some prestigious news sites have switched to a subscription model. They allow the general public to see their main websites, but block access to individual articles to those who haven’t paid (known as a paywall). However, they still plaster ads all over the websites that people pay to access. Others block access when they detect an ad blocker and insist that the viewer whitelists their site (excludes it from the ad blocking action) before allowing access.

Video ads that take a while to load and have high-volume sound on them can be particularly embarrassing if the viewer of that web page is in a public place or place of work at the time. They are the most intrusive ads on the web. Fortunately, video ads are particularly easy to block.

Free ad blockers

Amazingly, most of the best ad blockers available are free to use. The usual format deployed by these systems is the browser extension. These free ad blocker plugins:

  1. Hijack all of the code for a web page as it arrives at the web browser 
  2. Run that code through a scanning program 
  3. Pass all code for the page on to the browser, except for the code that loads ads

With most free ad blocker browser extensions, some acceptable ads will still get through, particularly if they are embedded in the text of the web page. However, one or two ads are not as distracting as the ads-soaked websites that people without ad blocking utilities have to put up with.

Web browser security

Systems that block ads aren’t just catering to anti-capitalists. Malware can infect computers by hiding in online ads and downloading onto the viewer’s computer as the code for ads loads into the web browser. Popular ad blockers don’t just block ads, they are also pop-up blockers and they block trackers as well. These handy add-ons are actually cybersecurity tools.

Social media buttons are not as likable as people think. They are trackers because the images for them have to be fetched from the sites that they advertise. That action gives the social media companies the opportunity to log the visit to a website from your IP address. So, Facebook and Twitter can compile a profile of your internet surfing even if you don’t have an account with those platform. 

The best ad blockers will strip out social media buttons (called “widgets”) from your favorite websites as an added blocking feature. This task is performed while also blocking banner ads, pop-up ads, video ads, trackers, and other adware and malware from your favorite sites.

Ad blocker add-ons for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and other web browsers

Whereas most cybersecurity tools are written to work on specific operating systems, ad blockers run in web browsers, so you don’t have to worry about whether the service will run on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS (for iPhones and iPads), or Android. However, you need to pay attention to which web browser they are made for.

As Google Chrome is the most widely-used web browser, there are more ad blocking extensions available for that browser than any other. The next best catered for web browser is Mozilla Firefox.

Many anti-adware producers don’t bother to create versions for Internet Explorer because that web browser has been replaced by Microsoft Edge. The Edge web browser is the third most catered-for browser in the ad blocking market.

Safari and Opera web browsers have far fewer ad blocking add-ons available. The Opera web browser’s producers have resolved the problem of their utility being overlooked by the creators of ad blocker extensions and built their own ad blocker app into settings of the web browser.

Best ad blocking web browser extensions

Here is our list of the best ad blocker plugins available for the major web browsers:

  1. AdBlock
  2. Adblock Plus (ABP)
  3. AdBlocker Ultimate
  4. uBlock Origin
  5. Ghostery
  6. AdGuard
  7. Poper Blocker
  8. AdLock
  9. TunnelBear Blocker
  10. Opera Ad Blocker

You can read more about these popular ad blockers in the following sections.

AdBlock

AdBlock is a very popular ad blocker with more than 40 million users all over the world. This useful tool blocks ads on websites in a variety of formats, including banner ads, pop up ads, and video ads. The ad blocker features include whitelisting and the option to allow acceptable ads. 

The plugin has a handy icon that sits at the end of the address bar in your web browser. This reports on its activities while it blocks ads. It will also block trackers.  It is the most widely use ad blocker as a Google Chrome extension. The free add-on is also available for Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Opera. There is also an ad blocker app for Android, iPhone, and iPad.

Adblock Plus (ABP)

Despite similarities in the name, Adblock and Adblock Plus are not related and they are produced by two different software houses. So, which is better AdBlock or AdBlock Plus? Honestly, it is very hard to choose between these two excellent ad blocking add-ons. However, the social media widget blocker in ABP pushes it ahead slightly.

ABP is a free ad blocker and is available as a Google Chrome extension. It is also possible to add this plugin to Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Safari, and Opera. The tool add-on includes whitelisting and an acceptable ads setting. Otherwise, it will block banner ads, video ads, and any other adware and malware contained in websites. It is also a pup up blocker and it will block trackers. Another ad blocker feature of this plugin is the ability to remove special media buttons from websites. Look for the secure web browser produced by ABP for Android devices and iPhones in your app store.

AdBlocker Ultimate

This ad blocker is a good choice for those who insist on only using open source software. An open source project is one that allows anyone to see its programming code. This enables users to be sure that there is no hidden malware within the system.

This is a Chrome extension and is available as a plugin for Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera, and Yandex. A version for Safari will run on iPhones and iPads. there is also a secure AdBlocker Ultimate browser for Android devices and a version that runs on Microsoft Windows, protecting all internet connected software from adware and malware. All versions of this anti-adware system block banner ads, video ads, phishing attempts, pop-up ads, and trackers. The Windows-based version is more of an anti-malware system and it is charged for by subscription. The web browser extensions are free.

uBlock Origin

uBlock Origin is a free, open source ad blocking system that is available as a Google Chrome extension and as a plugin for Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari, and Opera web browsers. Users with advanced understanding of how ad blockers operate have the option of switching between pre-installed filter lists or installing a new one. Ad blocking features include the blocking of banner ads, popup ads, and video ads. The system will also pre-filter URLs and block trackers.

Ghostery

Ghostery was designed to block trackers, including social media widgets, but it also functions as an ad blocker. The web browser extension is free to use. It is a product of the company Cliqz, which produces a secure web browser. There is a Ghostery add on for the Cliqz browser and also a Google Chrome extension. Ghostery is also available as a plugin for Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera, and Safari. There are secure Ghostery ad blocker apps for Android devices and iOS (iPhones and iPads).

This is free, open source software that is easy to install. It controls the use of JavaScript in websites, which reduces the opportunities that malware has to infect devices through web browsers.

AdGuard

AdGuard is free as a browser extension. The company behind the add-on also producers operating system-based security services for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS (iPhones and iPad). The Android and iOS free versions provide a base level of protection with upgrade options available for a fee. The web browser plugins are available for Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari, Opera, and Yandex. There is also a Google Chrome extension version of AdGuard.

This ad blocker will block trackers and spyware as well as all types of adware. It has a blacklist that warns about phishing websites and it has extra procedures to trap ad blocker circumvention attempts. It offers users the opportunity of both whitelisting and blacklisting. The Chrome extension has been installed more than 4 million times, so this is a very popular ad blocker.

Poper Blocker

Poper Blocker’s user rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on the Chrome Store, where it has been downloaded more than 2 million times. The free pop-up blocker prevents websites opening new tabs or creating a new browser window, so it scuppers a lot of the annoying tricks that infected websites get forced to perform, not just those sites that intentionally launch pop-ups. 

The service will also block overlay ads, which cover up the content of a web page that you want to read. This browser add-on won’t strip out ads embedded in web pages but it is better at blocking pop-ups than standard ad blockers. It is available for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Baidu.

AdLock

AdLock produces system protection for Windows and Android which are charged for. However, it also provides free browser plugins. There is a free Google Chrome extension and a free add-on for Safari. These web browser extensions will block banner ads, pop-up ads, and video ads. The utility will also protect your privacy by blocking spyware and trackers. The AdLock system also detects damaging elements in websites such as phishing strategies and malware and blocks them from loading in the web browser.

TunnelBear Blocker

The TunnelBear Blocker is an awesome ad blocker and privacy system. TunnelBear is a VPN system and it is charged for by subscription. However, the TunnelBear Blocker is free to use and you don’t have to install the VPN in order for it to work.

The TunnelBear Blocker goes a little further than most blockers. It will block ultrasonic tracking methods. This little-known tracking system plays as invisible signals under the soundtrack of videos in websites. The system also blocks regular trackers and affiliate links. This blocker also scans websites for malware and phishing strategies before allowing them to load into protected web browsers.

The one problem with the TunnelBear web browser extension is that it is only available for Google Chrome.

Opera Ad Blocker

Although most of the ad blockers in this list produce add-ons for Opera, the makers of the Opera web browser didn’t realize that their web browser would be so well catered for when the concept of ad blockers first arose. They decided to stake their pitch for new users by making their web browser a very secure service.

The idea of an ad blocker within a browser makes sense, which is why all of the successful ad blockers operate as browser extensions. Google Chrome has a built-in ad blocker, but it isn’t very good because it doesn’t work too well to block Google Ads. Opera doesn’t get an income stream from placing ads in websites, so its ad blocker is a lot more effective.

Block Ads in websites

Once you have an ad blocker installed, you will find that quite a few websites will just block your access entirely until you whitelist them. Some features that you want to access won’t work anymore. For example, many online streaming video players won’t run if you have an ad blocker in place.

Ad blockers fix one problem and create others. Thanks to whitelisting, ad blockers allow you to be in control. You will be able to decide when to allow pop-ups and ads and when to block them. You will be in control of what happened on the devices you own.

Beginner’s Guide to Amazon Fire Stick

Beginner's Guide to Amazon Fire Stick

The Amazon Fire Stick is like a mini set-top box. It plugs directly into a socket on the back of your TV, so it takes up no space and it doesn’t require trailing cables. For everything you need to know about the gadget (and how to set up Fire Stick) before committing to buying one, read this beginner’s guide.

What is an Amazon Fire Stick?

The Amazon Fire Stick is a TV decoder. TV signals travel in a digital format and so can easily be encoded both to block unauthorized access and to speed up transmissions through compression. Anyone who has cable or satellite TV is familiar with the set-top box. The Amazon Fire TV system started out as a box but then Amazon worked out how to reduce the hardware of the streaming device down to just a small device that looks a bit like a thumb drive. This format has been widely used before to provide mobile internet for laptop computers some software and IT security systems also use dongles, so the gadget’s shape and appearance is not new.

Your home or car stereo system probably has a socket for a USB stick. The Amazon Fire TV Stick is the same thing, but for TVs. Rather than storing files, this device is a little computer that interprets encoded digital TV signals so that they can become TV shows on the screen.

Amazon Firestick or Amazon Fire Stick?

The Amazon Firestick has many names. It is officially called the Amazon Fire TV Stick. It is a miniaturized advancement on the original Amazon Fire TV box. No one else makes a Fire TV dongle, so many people drop the Amazon and just call it the Fire TV stick or sometimes it is written as Fire-TV stick. Well, there isn’t a stick version of any other Amazon Fire product, so it is just as easy to drop the “TV” and so it is also known as the Fire Stick. Over time, writers have tended to remove the space and just call it Firestick. So, Firestick, Fire Stick, Fire TV Stick, Fire-TV Stick, Amazon Firestick, and Amazon Fire Stick are all the same thing. They are all ways to describe the Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Why Fire? Fire OS is an operating system that Amazon created for its mobile devices, such as the Amazon Kindle e-book reader, the Amazon Fire tablet and the now-defunct Amazon Fire Phone. Fire OS is a proprietary adaptation of the Android operating system, which was created by Google. There are many Android TV boxes on the market. These are set-top boxes that use Android for an operating system. As Fire OS is a version of Android and the Firestick is a TV decoder, it could be said that the Amazon Fire TV Stick is a type of Android TV box.

Beginner’s guide to streaming devices

TV set-top boxes have evolved over the years. They were first used by cable TV companies as part of an encryption system that prevented people from just plugging the cable for the service into the TV and getting entertainment without paying for it.

Another use for a set-top box is as a base-station for a remote control device. The set-top box interprets the commands that come in from the remote control and implements them on the TV.

How does Amazon Fire Stick work?

Once the internet started to be popular, entertainment distributors realized that this medium could carry digitized TV signals, making everyone’s telephone service into pre-laid cable TV wires. However, these services still needed a set-top box to convert the signals from the internet connection into the input format that TVs understand. This is how IPTV boxes came about. This includes Apple TV boxes and Android boxes. The Amazon Fire TV box became part of this trend and it eventually got boiled down into a dongle.

Newer versions of the Amazon Fire TV Stick have the voice-controlled Alex integrated into them and that removes the need to use a remote control unit.

Chromecast is an alternative method to get input from online streaming services, such as Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, or live TV from station websites onto your TV screen.

Does Fire Stick have a guide?

There are a few different versions of the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Amazon does produce an official Amazon Fire TV Stick User Guide for each. Here is a list of links to the help guides for each type of Fire Stick. These links each lead to a PDF file.

Where do I buy an Amazon Fire Stick?

Amazon has a world-leading product sales platform, so that is the obvious first port of call when looking for a new Amazon Fire TV Stick. Unsurprisingly, these streaming devices are among Amazon’s best sellers in the United States and around the world. Check out the big discount deals that the site offers. Before you Buy Now with 1-click, shop around because Amazon also distributes its devices through all of the consumer electronics retailers both online and real-world. Check out Best Buy, Target, and Staples in the USA and Canada and Currys, Argos, and Tesco in the UK.

Added to that, it is also possible to buy secondhand Amazon Fire TV devices in places such as eBay.

How to set up the Amazon Fire Stick

To master your Amazon Fire Stick, you first need to get it working. Here is a step-by-step guide to an Amazon Fire Stick setup.

Step One

Plug the power cable into the Amazon Fire Stick. The slot for this cable is on the side of the Fire Stick. Stick the small socket of the power cable into it. You have two options for where to get a power source. The other end of the power cord is a full-size USB connector. If your TV has a USB socket, you can plug it into that or you can plug it into the power plug that comes with the Amazon Fire Stick and plug that into an electric socket near the TV. Amazon recommends that you use the power socket rather than a USB port on the TV.

Step Two

Stick the plug the protrudes from one end of the Amazon Fire Stick into an HDMI port on the back or the side of your TV. This is how to connect Amazon Fire Stick to TV sets – there is no other way. Some people struggle to find the right socket. However, don’t give up because there is no other way to connect your Fire TV Stick to your TV. An HDMI port looks like a USB socket, but the top corners are slanted off.

Step Three

Put two AAA batteries into the Amazon Fire TV Stick’s remote control unit. Both the unit and the batteries are in the box with the Amazon Fire Stick. The back of the control unit slides up to reveal the battery box.

Step Four

Make sure your TV is plugged in. Turn it on. Use the remote control of your TV to get to the Source options. Select the HDMI port that you plugged the Amazon Fire Stick into. If you chose the right one, the logo for the Fire TV Stick will appear on the screen.

Step Five

Wait for the Amazon Fire TV Stick to boot up. You will be prompted to pair your remote control unit with the Amazon Fire Stick. The TV will show a message that the Fire Stick is searching for a nearby remote. Press the Home button on the remote. This has an icon of a little house on it. The TV display will change back to the Fire Stick logo once pairing has completed successfully.

Step Six

Wait for the display on the TV to settle down. It is not unusual for the software to go through an update procedure after pairing with the remote. You can’t speed that up; just let it complete. The display will tell you to press the play button on the remote. Do that.

Step Seven

Select your preferred language from the presented options. Use the top and bottom edges of the navigation dial at the top of the remote to move between options. Press the center of the circle when you arrive at the right language option.

Step Eight

If you chose to plug the power cord into the TV, you will probably get a warning message that the power source is no good. If this worries you, switch to the electric socket option instead. However, many people have no problems when using the TV USB port as a power source. Dismiss the message by clicking on the big round select button on the remote if you are happy to continue as is.

Step Nine

Connect the Fire Stick to your home wifi network. The system will detect your wifi box and display it as an option on the TV screen. Press the select button on the remote and enter the wifi password into the screen. Navigate to the Connect button on the screen and press the select button on the remote.

Step Ten

The Amazon Fire Stick will register your home network to your Amazon Fire account. The account should be generated automatically and associated with the Fire Stick before it is shipped. If you bought the Fire Stick secondhand, you should opt to create Amazon account for Fire Stick through the Change Account button in this screen.

Once these steps have been completed, the Amazon Fire Stick will check your connection speed and then show you a cartoon on how to use the system.

Step Eleven

Choose whether to enable parental controls. The Amazon Fire Stick will then explain to you about Alexa if it is part of the Fire Stick version that you chose. Dismiss this screen to get to the home screen of the Fire Stick.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to work a Fire Stick

You need to have the Amazon Fire Stick remote control unit turned on an with live batteries in order to access the content on an Amazon Fire TV Stick.

How to connect Fire Stick to TV

See Step Two of the How to Set Up the Amazon Fire Stick section, above.

What channels do you get with Fire Stick?

The Amazon Fire TV Stick uses apps to locate TV channels. It will only show channels that are streamed over the internet. Most terrestrial TV channels show live TV on their websites and this content can be pulled through the Amazon Fire Stick onto your TV. Many apps are already loaded onto the Amazon Fire Stick. These include apps for Netflix, HBO, and Spotify. Amazon Prime has its own menu option.

Is there a monthly fee for Fire Stick?

Amazon Fire Stick is a media player. It has a purchase price and then there is no monthly fee to pay. However, it does not gain you free access to entertainment that normally requires a subscription. For example, there is a Netflix app pre-loaded on the Amazon Fire Stick, but you have to subscribe to Netflix and enter your Netflix credentials into the app in order to watch anything through it. In that case, you will be paying a monthly fee to Netflix, not to Amazon.

Do you need internet for Fire Stick?

The main purpose of the Amazon Fire TV stick is to stream video off the internet onto your TV. So, if you don’t have an internet connection, you can still watch stored videos through the Plex app, which is pre-installed on the app.

Why does my Fire Stick keep restarting?

When a Fire Stick keeps rebooting it probably doesn’t have enough power or the HDMI connector is loose or faulty. If you used a USB port on the TV as a power source switch to using the electric wall socket. Push the Fire Stick into the HDMI socket to make sure it is fully inserted.

Why is my Fire Stick so slow?

You might get a slow response out of your Fire Stick if your internet connection is slow. Another reason could be that the device is clogged up with temporary files and rogue processes. Unplug the Fire Stick from the power supply for one minute then plug it in again. This should reset the memory and get it working properly. 

What is a jailbroken Fire Stick?

Jailbreaking refers to installing apps on an Apple device that don’t come from the Apple Apps Store. On Android and Android-like devices, such as the Amazon Fire TV Stick, the practice of installing APKs from a source other than the Fire Stick App Store is called “sideloading.”

Can I use my Amazon Fire Stick at a friend’s house?

Yes. You just have to connect to the wifi system in your friend’s house. The Amazon Fire Stick stores your account details so it will work anywhere.

Can I take my Amazon Fire Stick to another house?

Yes. If you move, you just take your Amazon Fire Stick with you along with your TV. If you move to another country, the Amazon Firestick will still work, but you will probably need to get a different AC adapter to plug it into the power supply.

How to install apps on Fire Stick

Here’s how to download apps on Fire Stick:

  1. Go to the home screen of your Fire TV.
  2. Navigate to the Apps section.
  3. Press the down button on your remote control to get out of the menu and into the apps list
  4. Explore available apps by moving through the list with the directional buttons on your remote control
  5. When an app you want is highlighted, press the OK button on your remote control
  6. In the apps description screen, highlight the Get option and press OK.

Can I get Plex on the Amazon Fire Stick?

Yes. In fact, the Plex app is already loaded on the Amazon Fire Stick out of the box.

Can I add Kodi to Fire Stick?

Kodi is not available at the Amazon App Store so there is no official APK for Kodi. However, it can be sideloaded onto the Amazon Fire Stick.

Are there free apps for Fire Stick?

Yes. You can find apps for Fire Stick in the Amazon store. The only way to get new channels, such as those for movies on Firestick is to add new apps.

How to watch new movies on Fire Stick

The best apps for new movies are HBO, Disney+, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.

How to watch free movies on Fire Stick

Be very careful about channels that promise you all of the latest movies for free. They are probably illegal and could get you into trouble. However, you can watch the main terrestrial channels through your Amazon Fire TV stick and those video streaming services regularly include movies in the schedule.

Best free movie apps for Fire Stick

In the USA, check out Tubi TV -- this is not available in Europe. Another good option for free movies is Vudu but not all content on that app is free. 

Best TV app for Fire Stick

Check out the TV Player App. USTVNow, UKTV, and LiveNetTV. All of these can be accessed through the app screen of your Fire Stick menu. 

How to Watch Shameless Online with a VPN

How to Watch Shameless Online with a VPN

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Shameless, starring William H Macy and Emily Rossum, is now into its tenth season. In January 2020, Showtime announced that its next season will be its last. That final season of the hit series will air in mid-2020. With 120 seasons already in the can, there is plenty for those who have not yet seen the show to binge-watch on catchup.

Shameless follows the fortunes of the large, down-at-heel family of six children, governed by wastrel single dad, Frank Gallagher. The youngsters raise themselves due to Frank’s chronic alcoholism, with the eldest daughter, Fiona taking on the bulk of parenting duties.

The plot and scripts for the gritty comedy were adapted from the successful British TV series of the same name. That version of the black comedy also ran to 11 seasons, concluded in May 2013. And had a total of 139 episodes.

Watch Shameless online

Shameless has stayed on Showtime for the entirety of its existence. The network has eight channels and is owned by ViacomCBS. Showtime has a total of eight channels, which are broadcast over cable TV systems. Shameless is available on the flagship Showtime channel, which is just called Showtime. The channel is subscribed to by 29.7 million households in the United States. Shameless is the network’s longest-running original series and its gritty plotlines frequently draw free publicity to the network.

Showtime makes Shameless available for viewing online. Unlike most cable-TV channels, access to the Showtime streaming service is not restricted to those who subscribe to the channel at home on a cable TV channel. It is possible to subscribe to the online series and that gives viewers access to many other Showtime entertainment. So, Showtime also operates as a sort of Netflix service.

There is one problem with the Showtime video streaming service. It can only be subscribed to by people in the USA. So, if you don’t live in America, you will have to find other ways to access Shameless online. If you are in the USA and take out a subscription to Shameless, you are able to access it from anywhere. So, you can watch the show on a mobile device as you travel on public transport or in your hotel room or on the beach while on vacation. You are not tied to watching the Showtime online streaming service while located at one address. However, you won’t be able to access the service if you travel abroad.

The Showtime channel and all of its content, including Shameless, can be subscribed to as an add-on service in Amazon Prime and in Hulu. It can be accessed through Apple TV, a Roku box, through Fubo, Sling TV, and YouTube TV. In all of these cases, the Showtime channel is a subscription service and none of these services will work if you travel abroad.

Where else to watch Shameless online

If you have a Netflix subscription, you do not need to take out an additional subscription to Showtime in order to watch Shameless. All of the seasons of Shameless are available on Netflix in the USA. The release date of Shameless seasons is delayed on Netflix, so season 10 should appear on the system mid-to-late 2020, which is around the same time that season 11 is expected to be released on Showtime.

Although Netflix subscribers have to wait to get the latest episodes, there is one compensation: all episodes are released at once, so you won’t have to wait a week to see the next plot twist.

A problem with accessing Shameless online through Netflix is that this service also only applies if you are in the USA. When you travel abroad, you can still watch Netflix, but you will get the video library for the country that you are in and not the USA. Netflix doesn’t have the rights to show Shameless in every country, so, depending on where you go, you might find that Shameless disappears from the menu.

Shameless is available in the Netflix library for Canada. You will also find the UK version over there, so that gives you the interesting option of comparing each version episode by episode. The US Shameless is also available in the Netflix libraries for Australia, Denmark, and Finland.

If you don’t have a Netflix subscription but you do have a Showtime subscription, you can get around the location access blocks while you are abroad by appearing to be in the USA when you access the video streaming service.

When customers try to access videos on Showtime, Hulu, Amazon Prime or any of the other US streaming services that carry Shameless, the video server looks up the IP address that the address came from. Every device connected to the internet has to have a unique address – the addressing system for the internet is called the IP address. Any IP address can be referenced to a physical location. You don’t get the IP address welded into your device; it is allocated by the internet service provider when you connect to the internet. So, even if you take your laptop with you from the USA, you don’t take your home IP address with you. That’s how Showtime knows you are abroad.

The VPN masks your true location and it presents all of the requests from your device to web services like Showtime from its own address. When the video stream gets sent back, the VPN forwards it on to your device. The VPN is a pass-through service, which, in internet parlance, is called a proxy.

VPNs offer membership by subscription and most of the companies that operate them run servers in several countries. You have to pick a server when you turn the VPN, so to appear to be in the USA, you just have to make sure you pick a server in the USA.

How to stream Shameless on Showtime outside the USA with a VPN

Use a VPN to access your Showtime subscription online even when you are not in the USA. Here’s how:

  • Subscribe to a VPN provider with US servers (ExpressVPN is a good choice)
  • Download and install the VPN client onto your devices
  • Open the VPN client, select a server in the USA and turn the VPN on
  • Surf to the Showtime website and access your account
  • Locate Shameless in the Showtime library
  • Select a season and click on an episode. Watch the video

There are many VPN services operating right now and most of them are too slow to stream video overseas. Showtime technicians know about VPNs and they have built access control systems that block requests that run through VPNs. Very few VPN services can trick these detection systems and you will waste a lot of time and money finding them. However, we have put together a list of the best VPNs that will get you into Showtime so you can watch Shameless from outside the USA.

Our recommended VPNs for Shameless

1. ExpressVPN

  • More than 3000 servers in 94 countries
  • Gets into HBO Go, Sky Go, Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video 
  • No data limits
  • Gets past VPN detection systems
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • An allowance of three simultaneous connections
  • Good speeds for video streaming
  • $8.32 a month with the one-year subscription plan

2. Surfshark

  • More than 1040 located in 61 countries
  • Gets past regional restrictions on streaming services
  • No data caps
  • Ad and malware blockers for included for free
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • No limit to simultaneous connections
  • Fast speeds
  • Only $1.77 per month plus 3 extra months free on the two-year plan.

3. NordVPN

  • More than 5600 servers in 58 countries 
  • Six simultaneous connections per account
  • Unblocks Netflix, Hulu, Sky Go, HBO Go, ITV, and ABC
  • No bandwidth or download restrictions
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 customer support
  • SmartPlay feature improves video transfer speed
  • Only $2.99 a month with the purchase of a 3-year plan

4. Cyberghost

  • More than 5600 servers in 90 countries
  • An allowance of seven simultaneous connections
  • No data throughput limit
  • Dodges detection at HBO Now, Hulu, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+ 
  • Evades national internet censorship
  • 45-day money-back guarantee on annual plans
  • Good speeds for streaming
  • $2.75 per month with the 3-year subscription plan

5. IPVanish

  • More than 1300 servers located in 53 countries
  • Allowance of 10 simultaneous connections
  • Strong security measures
  • No data throughput limits
  • Evades detection at all major streaming services
  • 7-day money-back guarantee
  • Very fast speeds
  • Priced at $6.49 per month on the one-year plan.