Cord cutters, your prayers have been answered. Sort of.
Households no longer need pay TV packages to enjoy movies and TV shows at home, and cord cutting has reached new heights thanks to services like Netflix, which offers tens of thousands of movies and TV shows that are each just a few clicks away. Networks are also finally getting in on the action, as HBO, ESPN and others launch services that stream paid content without the need for a pay TV subscription.
Netflix, HBO Now and WatchESPN are all paid options, though. What if you want to stream content for free? Sure, you can steal content by streaming it illegally, but there are plenty of legal options out there as well. The key, however, is getting them all in one place, and now there’s a community-powered service that looks to do just that.
At this point, almost every notable network in the country — and, in many cases, abroad — offers some amount of streaming content for free. Users typically have to pay for access to larger libraries, but some free options are surprisingly generous.
For example, TBS has a website and app that streams live content and gives users free access to as many as 10 recent episodes of popular shows on its network. Most channels have similar offerings but the problem, of course, is that you need to use hundreds of different apps and websites to access them all.
Or do you?
A community-powered service called iTVmediaCenter is trying to serve as a one-stop shop for content streaming. The service offers a free web portal and a paid app, and it claims to give users access to 200,000 channels of on demand content, with some live streaming content mixed in as well.
It’s not pretty, but it does work. iTVmediaCenter has a wide range of channels that includes on demand content from TV networks, free TV services like Hulu and Crackle, free movie on demand services, several web-based channels and more. The site also lists paid content sites like Netflix and HBO Go in its portal, and it links out to them for easy access.
I tested the iTVmediaCenter website (click “Guide” on the left to get started) and while it’s not pretty, it does deliver. Rather than hop between hundreds of different websites belonging to different networks, this portal aggregates them and lets you stream TV shows and movies right on the site. One minute I was watching last night’s episode of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and then next I was wondering why ABC ever gave The Goldbergs the green light.
Of note, if you want to use iTVmediaCenter’s Windows, Mac or smartphone apps, you’ll need to pay a one-time fee of $15.
All in all, it’s a an interesting and useful service, though it could stand to get a fresh coat of paint. The simplicity is there though, and it instantly replaces hundreds of bookmarks and apps with a single, searchable portal.