Over the past few years, the way we consume online content changed entirely, especially movies and TV shows. Ever since the Covid-19 and lockdown started a couple of years ago, most users switched to OTT platforms to watch content such as movies and TV shows. Many movies in 2020 were launched first on OTT platforms like Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix.
Also, these days movies arrive on OTT platforms within a few weeks of the theatrical release, which has made people switch to OTT apps and services more than ever. There are a whole bunch of OTT apps like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hotstar, Voot Select, Zee5, Sony Liv, and more. With over half a dozen OTT apps and subscriptions, it may not be possible for everyone to get all the subscriptions. This is where the alternatives come into play. In this guide, we will take a look at the best sites to watch movies and TV shows for free.
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Top Most Popular Streaming Sites
When it comes to the top web streaming platforms, Netflix is one of the first ones which come to mind. Not only is it popular all over the world but it also has a large presence in India. Since adding India to its list of serviceable countries in 2016, Netflix has seen a number of popular Bollywood films make its way onto the platform as well as original series. This includes the likes of Sacred Games, which stars Saif Ali Khan. Netflix in India will only continue to get bigger as it was announced that they would invest $420 million to create exciting content.
Disney+ Hotstar is one of India’s most popular streaming platforms and it is owned by Novi Digital Entertainment, a subsidiary of Star India. It has a huge library containing original shows and an exclusive film catalogue. As it brings all of the channels owned by Star, there are thousands of TV shows and films, which make Hotstar the largest library of Indian content. One advantage it holds over other streaming platforms is that it also offers live streaming of TV channels and sports events. On April 3, 2020, Hotstar merged with Disney+ after Star India’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, was purchased by Disney in 2019, meaning that even more content is available.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is seen as the direct competition to Netflix and in India, it has an extensive library of exclusive Hollywood and Bollywood films alongside Amazon original shows. It is also creating 18 new Amazon original shows in India which is the highest outside the United States.
To cater to Indian subscribers, Amazon Prime has a collection of content which is available in various languages like Hindi, Tamil and Bengali. At Rs. 999 (£11) a year, Amazon Prime is cheaper than Netflix in India and it also includes Amazon Prime delivery service, Amazon Prime Video, and even the newly introduced Amazon Music service with its millions of songs. For those looking for a streaming platform that is good value for money, opt for Amazon Prime Video.
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SonyLiv focuses more on Hindi-language entertainment by offering popular shows from major TV channels which can be streamed across devices. The platform offers web series, Hollywood and Bollywood films. Subscribers also get live broadcasts of sporting events. Unlike the premium web streaming platforms, SonyLiv offers premium and freemium versions. Under the freemium subscription, users can view all the exclusive content with adverts. However, for those who want to enjoy streaming add-free, it is Rs. 499 (£5.40) for a 12-month subscription.
JioCinema has a wide catalogue of Indian and Western content, making it a viable alternative to Netflix. It is an appealing streaming platform for Indians as it is part of the Jio Prime membership, meaning it is available to Jio mobile users for free. JioCinema currently offers films in different languages, web series and episodes from popular TV soaps. The streaming platform has also reportedly partnered with some of the leading production houses in order to produce exclusive content. Although the library of films is not as large as some of the collections on other platforms, the fact that it is available to Jio customers for free makes it worthwhile.
Eros has been a major name within Bollywood but it has moved into digital entertainment in order to keep up with the growing demand. While many web streaming platforms in India have a mixture of Hindi and Western content, Eros Now revolves around Hindi-exclusive entertainment.
There are a small number of English films but the focus is centred on Bollywood. Eros Now has a huge library, ranging from classics to the latest blockbusters. The main category is Bollywood, however, lovers of Pakistani dramas can enjoy shows from Hum TV and ARY Digital. The basic plan starts at Rs. 49 (£0.50) per month while the ‘plus’ plan is priced at Rs. 99 (£1).
Hungama offers an on-demand service which is available across multiple platforms. This web streaming service has over 8,000 Bollywood, Hollywood and regional films that are available in 12 languages, which include English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Punjabi. While it works on a monthly subscription basis, users can also view content on a pay-per-view basis. Those who opt for the ‘Entertainment Unlimited’ option can enjoy the plethora of films as well as songs and music videos. With over 65 million monthly active users, it’s easy to see why Hungama is a popular streaming platform to go for.
As the demand for streaming services in India continues to grow, certain platforms are focusing their efforts on Indian entertainment. One platform is the Singaporean-based company Spuul. Launched in 2010, Spuul was among the first to bring web streaming to India. It has become a library for Bollywood enthusiasts but it also offers classic Indian TV shows. Spuul also has films and TV shows from the Punjabi entertainment industry. One appealing feature that comes with the mobile app is the ability to download movies at a reduced download size and watch content while it is being downloaded.
ALTBalaji was launched in 2017 and was founded by film producer Ekta Kapoor. It aims to create original, premium and tailor-made content for Indians across the world. This means that there are no International films or TV shows. Unlike other streaming services in India, ALTBalaji offers a refreshing twist as it provides critically-acclaimed original shows created by in-house writers. It brings an Indian spin on the Netflix Originals concept. According to their website, it has the largest content bank seen in India, with content ranging from comedy to thriller. Users can stream content on five different devices simultaneously in six different languages.
Voot is one of the more unique streaming platforms as it was originally launched as a completely free service. Viacom 18 launched Voot in order to compete with cable entertainment companies turned streaming services like Hotstar. Although there is no Western content, users can enjoy popular shows from mainstream Indian channels in a range of languages. There is also an enjoyable collection of films, albeit, the collection is smaller than other web streaming services. Children can enjoy Voot as there is a large collection of children’s shows to keep them entertained.
Airtel TV follows in the footsteps of US network carriers like Comcast as it combines broadband connectivity with entertainment services. Subscribers get unrestricted access to loads of Bollywood films as well as thousands of popular shows. Users can also watch popular TV channels like Al Jazeera if they prefer. Airtel TV even offers interconnectivity among other streaming platforms like ZEE5, meaning you have plenty of content from a single app. All you need to enjoy the service is a registered Airtel SIM, a data-enabled handset or device and an Airtel data bundle. Subscription to the service comes at no cost to the user. You can stream and watch as many movies, videos or TV programs as you want whenever and wherever as long as you have an active data plan.
ZEE5 is a popular streaming service in India because it keeps up to date with audience demands and one way is that it is multicultural. Users who speak different dialects can enjoy a plethora of films dubbed in Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu. ZEE5 users can also view live TV from the 80+ channels to choose from. It is not just Indian content that people can enjoy. Subscribers can also watch English, Turkish, Korean, and Spanish movies and TV shows if they prefer. For those who are always on the go, there is the ability to download content for offline viewing.