Perhaps it’s just a sign of the digital era, but have we really come down to “subscriptions” or “you’ll be dealing with commercials you can’t skip” when it comes to our streaming services? People get so wrapped up in Netflix, Hulu, and other paid options that they forget services like Crackle, which really are free, just as they’re advertised. If you’ve ever wished for something a little more malleable, a little more tailored to what’s popular in movies and television, you really owe it to yourself to try out this underrated streaming solution.
Of course, when a service gets overshadowed by much of the competition, mystery abounds. Why would anyone think that Crackle can compete with the likes of Netflix? What value do people find in Sony’s little subsidiary streaming company, and what it offers? We’re going to dispel the rumors and cast aside assumptions. By the end of this article, we hope that you’ll see Crackle not only in a new light but in an optimistic one. You’ll want to use this service.
Here’s one of the major things that dissuade people from giving Crackle a shot–they hear that it offers “free movies and TV shows,” and immediately draw their own conclusions about what kind of service it is. If you’re one of our frequent readers at Digital Recourse, you know that we often dissuade people from paying much attention to streaming services that purport to offer anything for “free.”
Most of the time, they’re going to send you to fishy websites to download torrent files, which in turn give you access to pirated content. That’s bad news, all around.
The other assumption is related to the first–people hear that Crackle is free, and thus they assume they’ve discovered a jackpot. But if you head into Crackle thinking that you’re going to get free access to the newest movies and TV shows, you’re going to be disappointed on that front, as well.
So, what is Crackle all about? If both of these assumptions are wrong, what is it, exactly?
And second to all the concerns about what Crackle is are many users’ frustrations with the services embrace of advertising. In the same way that Hulu often caught a lot of flack for its use of targeted advertisements alongside its video content, so too does Crackle attract critique. This inescapable element of online content marketing (also widely prevalent on YouTube, by the way) has a poor reputation, but we might just change your opinion about that, as well.
What is Crackle?
Here’s the most concise description of Crackle that we can manage. It’s an online streaming service for movies and TV shows that was designed, from the ground up, to be free for viewers.
You don’t just have free access to some Crackle content; you have direct access to everything that the site is streaming, at any given time. You can access it through your web browser, smartphone, tablet, or game console (think PS4 and Xbox One) and all that you need to do so is a registered account. Not a paid account, mind you. As long as you cook up a unique username and password, and are willing to provide a valid email address to authenticate your account, you’ll be ready to rock and roll.
Because Crackle is a subsidiary of Sony’s entertainment division, you’re primarily going to find Sony-produced films and TV shows being streamed, here. By no means does this limit your options. On the contrary, Sony’s video library is robust, diverse, and covers just about every media genre under the sun, from romantic comedies to cult-thriller. It’s a wide selection of content from several decades of film distribution, so you’ll find classics like Ghostbusters, all the way up to newer flicks, such as titles from the Underworld trilogy. In addition to all of that, Crackle has also recently begun producing and airing its own, original video content. It isn’t quite on the same level as Netflix, to provide an example, but it’s still worth checking out.
Is it Free? Is it Legal?
You’ll be happy to know that the straightforward answers to both of these questions is, “Yes, and yes.” Crackle is 100% both free and legal. In addition to that, there is no paywall that will separate subscription users from everyone else. Because there is no upper tier of service to spend money on, everyone who uses Crackle has access to the same exact entertainment content. Good news, right?
As soon as you click through to the website, you’re going to see a much more streamlined interface and layout than you will with other services proposing to offer you “free” content. As we mentioned above, this is largely due to the fact that Crackle is a smaller branch of Sony’s entertainment division. It should be expected, then, that the site will be run immaculately well.
You also won’t have to worry about many of the same problems that plague other “free” movie sites, like pop-up ads, malware, and other malicious nastiness trying to worm its way onto your computer. All in all, Crackle is just as reliable of a service as any of the big-name players in the streaming arena–Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and more.
Let’s Talk About Commercials
Of course, we can talk a blue streak about how great it is that you don’t need to pay to use Crackle. Given the freedom, we just might (and we have in other articles on Digital Recourse.) However, the thing that tends to stick out like a sore thumb when you’re watching Crackle content–no matter which platform you’re doing so on–is the commercials.
You’re probably familiar with this type of advertising if you regularly watch movies or TV shows on Hulu, and you’re definitely familiar with it if you frequent YouTube. Before content plays, or sometimes in the middle of particularly long content, you’ll be subject to a brief advertisement, usually not lasting longer than 30 seconds. After which, your entertainment will resume, unhindered.
Many users want to know if there’s some way that they can opt out of these ads. Others want to block them outright, using third-party software and browser extensions. Below, we’re going to show you just how effective (or ineffective) that is, and also elaborate on why these ads are a good thing, for Crackle.
Can We Opt Out of Ads?
Doesn’t it seem, oftentimes, like you can’t really win when it comes to subscription services? You shell out a little bit of money, and suddenly you’re faced with a different kind of frustration. For all of the money that you spend on Netflix per month, maybe you don’t actually enjoy most of the content.
Free services carry the same kind of double-edged proposition. After all, just because they’re offered freely to those of us with a penchant for good movies and television doesn’t mean that someone, somewhere, isn’t having to eat some kind of cost. And you assume correctly if you guessed that Crackle does require some significant effort to improve and maintain.
Advertisements are the center of that spinning wheel–the thing holding all of the spokes together. As is the case with YouTube, the whole reason that nobody has to pay for access to it is due to advertisers already footing that bill. Banking on the fact that compelling advertisements will eventually convert new customers for those companies paying for the advertising, they are responsible for the content being free for us.
Ever wonder how people make money off of YouTube videos? Same deal; it wouldn’t happen without a comprehensive and functional advertising system.
For that same reason, you’re not going to have much luck when you try to skip Crackle commercials and advertisements. They’re embedded with the rest of the site’s video content for a reason–so that you watch them right alongside the stuff that you came there to enjoy. Maybe they’ll annoy you, and just maybe one of them will possibly earn a click from you. However, the larger consensus among viewers is that they’d rather do without them.
The reality, of course, is that without ads and commercials, Crackle wouldn’t be free. That old adage about having one’s cake and eating it too? Throw that on millions of people watching movies and TV through streaming services, and you’ve summed up the popular opinion on the issue.
Even though the commercial and advertising situation might be a bummer to some viewers, rest assured that these annoyances only exist for the sake of keeping Crackle free. That sets it apart from most of the other major streaming service providers. Since nobody is too eager to start paying for another media streaming service, the best thing that we can do is learn to accept targeted ads accompanying Crackle videos.
As long as you’re willing to deal with the fact that you can’t skip commercials, you’ll be left with one of the best free, legal, and robust entertainment resources that can be found online. If you have any remaining questions about Crackle, chime in through the comments, below!