One of the biggest benefits of having a media streaming device or smart TV is the amount of content we can watch. From exclusive TV shows like Ted Lasso and Stranger Things to blockbuster movie releases, streaming video at home is as easy picking as up your remote control and choose from thousands of options. If you’ve wondered how many different free vs paid streaming services are in Canada, here’s a look at a list of the most popular free vs paid streaming apps you can choose. These prices are subject to change but are current as of February 2023.
Free streaming apps in Canada
Free streaming apps are 100% free to watch. Some of these will be just like any other streaming service, likely requiring you to create an account. Other services will offer free ad-supported TV (aka FAST services) which are similar to “Over the air” (OTA) TV in that they will interrupt the streaming program occasionally to show a minute or more of advertising.
1. Roku Channel
Available on the Roku operating system on Roku smart TVs and Roku media streaming devices, the Roku Channel offers thousands of TV shows and movies for free. You’ll need to set up a Roku account to watch, and most of these free programs are FAST enabled: there are ads shown while you’re watching. They also offer exclusive movies like “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” starring Daniel Radcliffe as well as television programs you won’t find anywhere else.
Platforms: You can watch The Roku Channel on Roku TVs, Roku media streaming devices, and web browsers like Google Chrome, Samsung Smart TVs, and Amazon Fire TVs.
Tubi is a popular TV streaming app that shows ad-supported movies and TV shows. You’ll find new movies, older TV shows, and reality or crime programs. You don’t need to create an account but there are commercials while you watch.
Platforms: You can download the Tubi app on Roku TVs and Roku media streaming devices, Xbox, Playstation, Mac and PC computers via web browser, Amazon Fire TVs, and Apple TV.
3. Pluto TV
Pluto TV just launched in the fall of 2022 and it’s already one of the most popular free streaming platforms in Canada. Unlike other free streaming networks, Pluto TV is an aggregator of channels and it displays them in a guide that looks a lot like one you would find on cable. You can watch Live TV or On Demand. If you choose Live TV, you need to make sure you’re ready to watch when it starts or you’ll join a show in progress.
There are listings for the type of shows offered by different providers. You can click through different channels or check out local news on Global. There are TV shows for kids or you can also watch classics. The only thing to keep in mind is that Pluto TV may only offer one season of your favourite show. You don’t need an account to watch content on Pluto TV, but there are commercials while you watch.
Platforms: Pluto TV is available via any Internet browser, Android TV, and you can stream it to your TV using a Chromecast or Apple Airplay.
4. CBC Gem
CBC has always offered great content on their TV channel and now you can watch the same content on CBC Gem. They do show ads while watching, but CBC Gem has many of your favourite shows with full episodes and several seasons. There is kid’s content on CBC Gem and you can also watch CBC Live if you’d like to tune into a live stream.
Platforms: You can watch CBC Gem via any web browser, stream it to your TV via Chromecast, or download the CBC Gem app on the iOS app store, Google Play, and Roku TVs or media streaming devices.
If you have an anime or manga fan in your house, you’ll want to take a look at Crunchyroll. It’s free to watch but you’ll need an account and there are ads shown while you watch. Some content is only available with a premium subscription, and Crunchyroll offers several premium tiers you can choose.
Platforms: Crunchyroll is available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku TV, Chromecast, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Playstation, iOS, and Android.
CTV is available on cable, but you can enjoy the same content for free on the CTV app. You can watch live TV if you’d like to catch the news or catch up on years of your favourite throwback TV series. There is everything from Bewitched to Married with Children or true crime like Unsolved Mysteries.
Platforms: The CTV app is available on iOS and Android devices, smart TVs, media streaming devices and gaming consoles.
Paid streaming apps in Canada
Canada doesn’t have all of the same free vs paid streaming apps as the USA, but the content we can stream is always growing. Here’s a look at the streaming apps available in Canada right now, what they cost, and what type of content they offer.
1. Netflix Canada
Netflix is still the most popular streaming service in Canada. Since launching in 2010 they’ve upgraded their platform to include original content like Squid Game and Stranger Things. There are thousands of movies, documentaries, and TV shows you can watch, and some TV shows offer all of the seasons available so you can binge-watch whenever you’d like to. There is no limit on how many hours of content you can watch, you can cancel the service anytime, and you can decide on the quality of content you’ll watch. Netflix pricing is based on tiers, and they’ve recently added a new tier that’s less expensive but requires you to watch ads.
Platforms: Netflix is available on multiple devices including smartphones, tablets, computers, gaming consoles, smart TVs, and media streaming devices.
|Netflix Basic with Ads $5.99 per month
Basic without Ads for $9.99 per month
|Standard with no ads $16.49 per month||Premium $20.99 per month|
|Max 720p resolution, you can watch on different devices in your household, but you can’t download content and there are limited types of movies and TV shows.||Offers better video quality, 1080p Full HD resolution, you can watch on different devices in your household including TV and computer, and you can download content.||This package has the best video quality and 4K HDR resolution. You can watch on different devices in the same household and you can download content.|
Disney+ is a favourite streaming service for anyone who loves Disney and Marvel movies. Content is categorized into different ‘universes’ including Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and Disney. You can find the entire Star Wars saga on Disney+ as well as classics like Steamboat Willie and movies like Frozen and Tangled. Over the last year, Disney+ has added different channels within the app including National Geographic and Star. Both offer new and classic TV shows.
Disney+ has added IMAX Enhanced content to their platform. With an expanded aspect ratio of 1.90:1, you can watch movies just like you would in an IMAX theatre. IMAX Enhanced content will let you see up to 26% more of the original image and can take up your entire screen.
Platforms: Disney+ is available on different devices including smartphones, tablets, computers, gaming consoles, smart TVs, and media streaming devices.
$11.99 per month or $119.99 annually
|Disney+ supports 4K UHD and Dolby Atmos sound on compatible devices.|
|You get up to 7 different profiles and you can watch on 4 screens at once.||You can take your content with you by downloading any movie or series.|
3. Prime Video
Prime Video is a video streaming service run by Amazon. It’s a lot like Netflix, and you can stream TV, movies, and original Prime content. Prime Video has everything from kids’ content to classic TV shows and newly released movies like Bullet Train and Spiderman: No way Home.
You can also choose to add different types of premium and specialty channels to your Prime Video account for an extra cost. If you sign up for extra channels you can watch them within the Prime app. Premium channels include AMC, Paramount+, Starz, and Super Channel.
Platforms: Prime Video is available on devices including smartphones, tablets, computers, gaming consoles, smart TVs, and media streaming devices.
(Included as part of a Prime subscription. You can add premium channels for an additional cost.)
|Prime video offers different resolutions depending on content including 720p SD, 1080p Full HD, and 4K UHD.|
|You can create multiple profiles and watch on 3 screens at once.||You can take your content with you by downloading any movie or series.|
Crave is packed with different types of content, and is the Canadian home of HBO and Showtime. You can watch all types of original videos including Dark Side of Comedy and Letterkenny or watch your favourite HBO movies and TV shows including Gossip Girl, Game of Thrones, and Hacks. Crave also offers an upgraded subscription that includes Starz. If you opt to add Starz content to your Crave subscription it will cost an extra $5.99 per month.
Depending on what you’re watching and what type of device you’re watching on, you can find content on Crave that’s 720p SD, 1080p Full HD, or 4K. Crave is one of the only streaming services that offer different subscription plans based on the type of device you watch on, and you can sign up through the Crave website or through your cable provider.
Platforms: Crave is available on smartphones, tablets, computers, gaming consoles, smart TVs, and media streaming devices. It’s also available on Apple TV 4K.
If you watch on your phone or tablet
|You can stream to one device, and your max video quality will be SD.|
$19.99 monthly If you watch on your smart TV or other larger screen
|You can stream to multiple devices, and your video quality will be HD or 4K|
5. Apple TV+
One of the best parts of Apple TV+ is the exclusive content. It’s the only streaming network where you can watch Ted Lasso, and there are full seasons of shows like Truth, Severance, and The Morning Show. Apple TV+ is built into iOS computers, smartphones, and tablets, and you can access it on the Apple media streaming device as well as add it to other TV operating systems like Roku.
There are a few ways to check out Apple TV+ before you commit to a subscription. You can try the 7 day free trial if you’re interested in watching a show or two. The service is also an occasional perk for buying a new MacBook or other Apple device. You’ll want to check and see if it’s offered on your new device, but you can often find a 3 month, 6 month, or one year subscription code so you can watch for free. It’s also available as part of the Apple One bundle where you can sign up for iCloud storage, Apple Fitness, Apple Arcade, and AppleTV+ for one set fee.
Platforms: Apple TV+ is available on gaming consoles including Playstation and Xbox, smart TVs including Samsung, Sony, and LG, as well as media streaming devices like Roku, Fire TV, Google TV, and Android TV.
Apple TV+ can be shared via Family Sharing for up to 6 simultaneous streams and costs $5.99 per month
If you’re a fan of reality TV shows, Hayu will be your favourite channel. You can choose from True Crime to Housewives of Beverly Hills or Keeping up with the Kardashians. They offer full seasons of some programs and have a variety of shows like 911 Crisis Centre. Hayu is inexpensive too, so if you love reality TV it won’t cost a lot to indulge in your guilty pleasure. It’s available in HD resolution.
Platforms: Hayu is available on a variety of iOS and Android devices including smart TVs, smartphones, and tablets.
Hayu costs $61.99 per year or $6.99 per month. If you’re a student you can get 20% off the cost.
Paramount+ is one of the newest streaming services in Canada and it’s gaining popularity thanks to the variety of movies offered. They have TV shows like Yellowstone and kids’ programs like SpongeBob, but it’s their blockbuster movie list that will keep you entertained. Some of the latest releases include Top Gun: Maverick, Seal Team, and Tulsa King. If you have a premium subscription and a compatible device, Paramount+ will stream in 4K HDR and Dolby Vision.
Platforms: Paramount+ is available on both iOS and Android devices including 2017 and newer Samsung smart TVs, media streaming devices like Roku and Fire Stick, and Apple TV 4K.
Paramount+ has a monthly subscription fee of $9.99 and you can watch on 3 screens with the same account.
YouTube free and YouTube Premium
YouTube has always been in a league of its own, and because it’s both a free service and offers the option of a paid app, it falls into both free vs paid streaming categories.
A favourite for content creators, YouTube is free to watch and uses ads to support its service. You’ll find video streams in 720p, 1080p, 4K, and 8K so there’s content for every device you own. If you’d like to skip the ads and download content to watch on the go, you can sign up for YouTube Premium.
YouTube Premium lets you watch ad-free content, and you can play your videos in the background of your device even when your screen is locked. You can save your videos to watch when you don’t have an Internet connection, and you also get access to YouTube Premium Music so you can listen to your favourite bands or concerts.
|Cost of YouTube Premium
If you have a sports fan in your home, DAZN will be their favourite streaming network. When you sign up for this monthly subscription you get NFL Game Pass, NFL Sunday Ticket, MLB Network, Red Bull TV, and so much more.
Platforms: DAZN is available on most iOS and Android devices, most smart TVs, media streaming devices like Roku and Fire Stick, and gaming consoles.
|Cost of DAZN
Free vs paid streaming services in Canada
If you’d like to cut your cable service, there’s never been a better year. This list covers the most popular free vs paid streaming options in Canada, and there will always be new channels and more content added as the year goes on. If you’d like to stream video in your home, take a look at the latest smart TVs and media streaming devices at Best Buy.
If you know of other streaming services you think should be added to this list, let me know in the comments.
I’m becoming a big fan of Plex and Tubi, there are a lot of content on both of those.