Crackle review: An in-depth look at the free streaming service

Crackle highlights

Crackle review

On-demand video streaming service, Crackle, provides a strong library of movies and TV shows for free. Unlike most other free streaming services, Crackle has its own original programming in addition to content purchased from other companies.

The service originally launched in 2004 under the name Grouper. It was purchased by Sony Pictures in 2006, which changed the name to Crackle in July 2007 then Sony Crackle in January 2018. Sony sold the majority of the business to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment in March 2019, after which the name reverted to Crackle once more.

Is Crackle free?

Yes it is. This innovative service doesn’t cost users a penny. Here’s a look at Crackle’s key offerings, including price, library size, ad length and how viewers can watch the service.

On-demand content library513 movies, 79 TV shows
Average ad runtime30 seconds
Live Streaming?No
Device compatibilityAndroid/iOS, desktop, smart TVs, smartphones and tablets

Why Crackle may be the right streaming service for you

While it isn’t able to compete with the quality of content available through paid services like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, Crackle’s free movie and TV options are among the best choices on the streaming market. Its original programming, movies and TV shows purchased from other content houses make it a worthwhile option for people looking to cut the cable cord.

User experience

The Crackle app ensures quick discovery of the content available on the platform. Viewers can search for movies and shows separately by genre or organize them alphabetically. It also provides curated categories such as Fandom, From Book To Screen, Movie Franchises and the science fiction-focused Stream Me Up, Scotty, as well as the standard Action, Comedy and Drama options.

Viewers can also keep track of movies and shows they want to watch by simply clicking the Add to Watch Later button. Crackle also enables them to build their own Watchlists and access ready-built recommended Watchlists.

However, if high-quality video is a priority, then this service might not be the best option — Crackle doesn’t provide HD content. Furthermore, as an ad-supported platform, Crackle features frequent commercials before and during movies and shows.

Device compatibility

Crackle is available for free on the following devices:

Crackle features you’ll love

We took a closer look at the Crackle platform to understand the key features that will appeal to users and what they can expect from the free streaming service.

Not too heavy on ads

Like the vast majority of free streaming platforms out there, Crackle is supported by ads before and during content. But the good news is that the ads aren’t too overwhelming and appear less frequently than during regular cable broadcasts. 

Cross-platform streaming

One of the best things about the rise in video streaming is that it’s now possible for users to watch their favorite content whenever they want. Crackle enables on-the-go viewing thanks to its compatibility with a wide range of devices, including computers, mobile phones, tablets, gaming consoles, set-top boxes and streaming players. However, users can’t download content to watch offline. 

Bold and visual interface

Crackle’s bold interface uses big tiles that enable users to peruse available content. Hovering over a block pops up helpful information such as a brief synopsis of the movie or show, the duration of the content, its age rating and the year of its release.

Audio assistance

The Crackle service provides subtitles and closed-captioning options for people that are hearing-impaired or want to mute the audio. It also enables users to customize this feature with a range of font choices and other options. Subtitles are only available in English.

Shape Crackle’s content

Users that think Crackle’s content could do with a bit of a boost can, in theory, get things rolling in the right direction. The service’s Submit A Request feature enables subscribers to suggest movies or shows they think the platform should feature. The service claims it’ll review all suggestions. 

What to watch on Crackle

Crackle’s free streaming with decent quality original programming is rare, and this alone makes the service worth checking out. The headline grabber in Crackle’s own content is The Oath, a crime drama executive produced by Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson and starring Sean Bean and Ryan Kwanten.  

Additional original programming includes StartUp, starring Martin Freeman and Adam Brody, and Snatch, a crime comedy-drama based on the Guy Ritchie movie, which is also available on Crackle. Subscribers can also watch Jude Law and Sean Penn star in All The King’s Men, more light-hearted entertainment in robot crime movie Chappie and the must-watch screen debut of Edward Norton alongside Richard Gere in Primal Fear.

The standout movie on Crackle is comedy The Other Guys, which includes Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L Jackson and Will Ferrell in its star-studded line-up. Other notable viewing options include Zero Dark Thirty, focusing on the mission to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden and Matthew McConaughey’s desert adventure Sahara.

Science fiction lovers are well-served by Crackle’s Stream Me Up, Scotty channel with several Star Trek movies, including Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Nemesis. Sports fans will rejoice in the movies collated in the Sportsball channel, including Sean William Scott in the comedy Balls Out: Gary The Tennis Coach. Additional sports-themed choices include American Football drama Gridiron Gang, the original version of The Longest Yard and Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey in Two For The Money.

The takeaway

Crackle may not have the biggest content library, even compared to other free-to-view streaming services, but it does provide quality entertainment that makes it worth considering as a supplement to the likes of Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. 

There are plenty of good films available, including Hollywood hits and a number of enjoyable action, horror and thriller flicks. And Crackle has a decent line-up of TV shows to choose from, including a growing offering of its own programming that ensures it stands out in the free video streaming space.

However, the free service comes with numerous ad breaks and a level of picture quality that can’t compete with the best video streaming platforms out there. For that reason, Crackle probably isn’t a worthwhile option for the avid video streamer to consider as their only source of entertainment but more of a supplement to other services.

Ashtyn Evans