With a content mix that includes movies, TV series and some original programming, there is a pretty good selection of entertainment on this service in 2023.
And with Hollywood megastars like Brad Pitt, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp and Arnold Schwarzenegger starring in films that cycle through the service, there’s a great chance you’re going to find plenty of recognizable titles.
But is it worth adding to your streaming device as a source of free entertainment? I have reviewed Crackle’s service to help you make that determination.
This article was updated in July 2023 and I review it every six months. Detailed notes on all updates can be found here.
Table of Contents
For the purposes of this review, I downloaded Crackle on my Roku streaming device, Android phone and iOS tablet. I also accessed the web streaming version of the service on my computer. Here’s what I found out after some time with the free service.
What Is Crackle?
Crackle is a free streaming service that offers on-demand movies and TV series. It also has a library of original content created for the service.
Crackle was purchased by Sony back in 2006 and for years carried the entertainment company’s name prominently, often referred to as “Sony Crackle.”
However, in March 2019, the controlling stake of the streaming service was sold to Chicken Soup for the Soul and Sony is no longer a major player with the service.
How To Watch Crackle
If you have a high-speed internet connection and a modern device to use on it, there’s a decent chance you can access Crackle from it. The service is available on computers, phones, tablets, streaming devices and some smart televisions.
Crackle doesn’t require you to sign up for an account to access the content. But if you do, can save your progress on a movie or show and tag shows as favorites to be watched at a later time.
The registration process is pretty simple, and the account is free. You just provide your name, email address, date of birth and gender. No phone numbers, home addresses or credit cards required.
Devices and Apps
Crackle is accessible on a variety of televisions, streaming devices, phones, tablets and computers.
If you have a smart TV, it is possible that Crackle will already appear as an app. The following smart TV brands partner with Crackle:
If you’re looking to watch the content on your television without one of the above devices, it’s likely that you’ll need a streaming device. Crackle is widely available on many of the popular devices on the market including:
You also can watch on your laptop or personal computer through the official website’s streaming player.
Content Available To Stream on Crackle
Crackle has an impressive library of on-demand movies as well as some recognizable TV series and original programming with big names attached to the projects.
While the content options tend to rotate often based on agreements with content producers, here’s a look at some of the more prominent streaming options available in each category.
Popular On-Demand Movies
You’ll often see names like Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson as stars in featured films.
Available movie titles rotate often, but here is a sampling of movies that were recently available:
- “Alex of Venice”
- “Black Beauty”
- “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”
- “Tell No One”
- “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”
Titles that have previously rotated through Crackle include “A Few Good Men,” “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Karate Kid” series.
Popular On-Demand TV Series
The television series selection on Crackle is not quite as extensive as the movie selection, but there are still some really well-known shows here. Some are a bit dated, but there are also some timeless classics. Ellen DeGeneres’ The Ellen Show is also available on Crackle.
Here’s a look at some of the popular TV series titles that were recently available:
- “The Ellen Show”
- “Charlie’s Angels”
- “The Jeff Foxworthy Show”
- “Starsky & Hutch”
- “Hell’s Kitchen”
- “The Dana Carvey Show”
- “Just Shoot Me!”
Classics like “All in the Family,” “Bewitched,” “Sanford” and “Who’s the Boss?” are some titles that have been in rotation on Crackle in the past.
Popular Kids Content
Crackle may not be the top free streaming option when it comes to children’s programming.
There is a handful of recognizable kid-friendly series available, but the volume is probably not enough to keep your kids occupied for any length of time.
Some of the options include:
- “Darwin & Newts”
- “Dennis the Menace”
Crackle does have an original content section in its library, which is a bonus for those of you who may be looking for something a little off the beaten path. As of March 2023, it offers 26 original television series and 20 original films.
There are some recognizable names attached to these projects. Kate Bosworth and Dennis Quaid star in a thriller series called “The Art of More,” and Jeremy Renner is the executive producer for a cyber-thriller film called “Throwaways.” Popular comedian Rob Riggle stars in a series titled “Rob Riggle’s Ski Master Academy.”
Ashton Kutcher is the executive producer of an original series about America’s student loan crisis called “Going from Broke,” here’s a look at Crackle’s promotion of that original content:
Crackle has a pretty easy-to-use platform, and the amount of advertisements line up with what you may expect from a free streaming TV service.
How Bad Are the Ads?
The number of commercials you’ll see on the service is typically fewer than what you’d expect to see while watching a similar piece of content on traditional television.
For example, I sat down to watch an episode of Redd Foxx’s sitcom “Sanford” to chart the ads. There were only four minutes of commercials for the episode meant for a half-hour TV time slot. On traditional television, there typically are eight minutes worth of ads per half hour. So that’s half the ads!
The commercials broke down like this:
- One 30-second commercial prior to the launch of the episode
- A two-minute commercial break that aired six ads shortly after the opening credits
- One 90-second commercial break that aired near the 17-minute mark of the episode
A full-length movie has more commercial breaks, as you might expect. Here’s a look at the commercial break schedule for “Zero Dark Thirty,” which is a popular film that was once featured on the service.
You’re able to track your progress through a commercial break with a meter you’ll see in the bottom left corner of your screen. In the screenshot below, you can see there are 22 seconds remaining on what began as a two-minute commercial break.
Perhaps the worst part about the ads on a computer is that you’re not able to visit another tab on your screen while the commercial is running. The second you click to a new tab, Crackle automatically pauses the advertisement. That means you’re stuck watching the commercials all the way through if you want to continue with the content.
Crackle has a no-nonsense approach to the user interface. If you click on a piece of content, it takes you straight to an advertisement and then rolls you into the beginning of the movie or TV show.
Other free streaming services offer you the ability to read a synopsis of the content, check the rating and get other information prior to launching the content. You can still see all of that on Crackle, but you have to hunt for it a little. For example, on the web streaming option, you scroll down from the video, and all the relevant information is listed below.
The user experience is a little bit different on each Crackle platform. On the web, you’re basically looking at a TV and Movies section with each sorted alphabetically by default. They can be broken down into genres if desired, and the search bar is always present.
On the app for phones and streaming devices, you have genres broken down into categories (as pictured above). You also have tabs available for recently viewed content and content you have marked to watch later.
Tips for Enjoying Crackle
Has some of the available content caught your attention? If so, here are some tips for enjoying it on Crackle:
- Create a free Crackle account: You can watch Crackle’s content without signing up for an account, but it may actually be worth your time to get a free one. You’ll be able to unlock two key features of the app: “Continue Watching” and “Watch Later.” As you may guess by the names, the “Continue Watching” tab allows you to pick up where you left off on a piece of content, while the “Watch Later” tab keeps all of the content you’ve marked to watch in one easy reference point.
- Sort by “Original Content” when searching for something new: It is rare to see a free content service offer up much in the way of original content, but Crackle is one of the few that does. So take advantage of it. As I mentioned earlier in the review, names like Ashton Kutcher and Jeremy Renner are attached to projects on this platform.
Final Thoughts on Crackle
Still trying to decide whether or not you should add Crackle to your streaming portfolio? Here are some pros and cons to think over:
Crackle: Pros and Cons
|FREE!||Ads run before content begins|
|Good selection of on-demand content||Small content library for kids|
|Original content from Hollywood stars||No live streaming TV options|
If you have decided to cut the cord or dump your subscription streaming services in the name of saving cash, I think Crackle has a place in your streaming life. With a mixture of popular movies and TV series as well as some original content, this widely available and completely free service is worth at least a trial run.
Do you have experience watching the Crackle streaming service? We’d love to hear your thoughts in our Clark.com community!
- July 2023: Updated content offerings.