Crackle is an on-demand streaming TV service produced by entertainment industry giant Sony and Chicken Soup for the Soul.
With a content mix that includes movies, TV series and some original programming, there is a pretty good selection of entertainment on this service. And with Hollywood megastars like Brad Pitt, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp, Sandra Bullock and Arnold Schwarzenegger starring in the available films, 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.
Table of Contents
For the purposes of this review, I downloaded Sony’s 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 has carried the entertainment company’s name prominently since — it’s sometimes referred to as “Sony Crackle.” However, in March 2019 the controlling stake of the streaming service was sold to Chicken Soup for the Soul. The two companies now work together in the production of Crackle.
Crackle is free in the United States and Australia, but is actually offered as a subscription service in Latin American and Caribbean countries.
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 does not require that you sign up for a free account to access the content. But if you do sign up for an account, you’re granted the ability to do things like save 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 straightforward. They want your name, email, date of birth and gender. No phone numbers, home addresses or credit cards required.
Devices and Apps
Sony 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 come preloaded as an app. Sony acknowledged the following smart TV brands as partners in that regard:
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. Luckily, 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 that has some big names attached to the projects. While the content options tend to rotate 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
There is no shortage of big name actors on the movie menu for Crackle. Look no further than A Few Good Men, which is a classic film that stars Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. There are several recognizable comedies, like Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg’s The Other Guys, available for streaming as well. Here’s a look at some of the popular movies available:
- Zero Dark Thirty
- A Few Good Men
- The Other Guys
- Seven Years in Tibet
- 28 Days
- 3:10 to Yuma
- Friday the 13th series
- The Karate Kid series
- Rules of Engagement
- The Longest Yard
Popular On-Demand TV Series
The television series selection on Crackle is not quite as extensive as the movies selection, but there are still some really well-known shows here. Some are a bit dated, but selections like All in the Family, Sanford and Bewitched are timeless classics. Ellen Degeneres’ The Ellen Show and Tony Danza’s Who’s the Boss? are also available on Crackle. Here’s a look at some of the popular TV series titles:
- All in the Family
- The Ellen Show
- Charlie’s Angels
- The Jeff Foxworthy Show
- Sanford (Redd Foxx’s spinoff of Sanford and Son)
- T.J. Hooker
- Who’s the Boss?
- Marvel Animated Series: Iron Man, Spiderman, X-Men
- The Dana Carvey Show
- Just Shoot Me!
Popular Kids Content
For those of you with children in the home, Crackle may not be the top free streaming option. There are 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 available include:
- Muppets in Space
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
- The Smurfs
- Stuart Little
- Jack and the Beanstalk
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. At the time of this review, there were 16 original television series and 11 original films.
There are some recognizable names attached to these projects. Highlights include an animated series called Super Mansion that has characters voiced by award-winning actor Bryan Cranston and a series from popular comedian Rob Riggle titled Rob Riggle’s Ski Master Academy. 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.
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 lines up with what you may expect from a free streaming TV service.
How Bad Are the Ads?
Since Crackle is free of charge, it must make its money by inserting advertisements into its on-demand content. The good news, though, is that 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. What I found is that I only experienced four minutes of advertisements for the episode meant for a half-hour TV timeslot. On traditional television, there typically are eight minutes worth of commercials per 30-minute timeslot. 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 one of the more popular films on the service:
You’re able to track your progress through a commercial break, with a meter in the bottom left corner of your screen letting you know exactly how much longer you’ll be seeing ads. 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, just like you would have to on the apps.
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, it just requires that you search for it a little. For example, on the web streaming option, you simply 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– 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 Sony Crackle
Has some of the available content caught your attention? If so, here are some tips for enjoying it on Sony 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 who do. So, take advantage of it. As mentioned earlier in the review, names like Bryan Cranston, 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 Sony 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|
Bottom Line: 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 from Sony is at least worth a trial run.
Do you have experience watching the Sony Crackle streaming service? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!