In the world of entertainment, plenty of companies offering video-on-demand and live TV streaming services have come and gone. Services like Netflix, stood the test of time, while a few others bit the dust too early. Crackle, a relatively new service, beat all the odds despite being a free service. Before we find out how to let’s take a quick peek into Crackle’s story.
Remember Grouper? Well, thumbs up if you do! Crackle is basically Grouper, re-branded. In case you’re unfamiliar, all you have to know is that Crackle is Sony Pictures Entertainment’s attempt at offering free online streaming of hit movies, syndicated TV series, and original web-series to people across the world. Although Sony bought “Grouper” way back in 2006, the company officially launched “Crackle” only in 2011, with extensive support as far as device compatibility is concerned. Sadly, the service underwent tremendous turmoil in the UK region but gained massive popularity everywhere else!
Content On Crackle
You may find Crackle’s library to be quite limited. This is probably due to the fact that Sony steers clear of pointless fillers and focuses more on quality; unlike other free services such as TubiTV. That said, thanks to the credibility of Crackle’s ownership, the service features content from a bunch of content partners including 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Lions Gate Entertainment, Fox Digital, MGM, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bro.s/New Line Cinema, Morgan Creek Productions, Funimation, TOEI, Aniplex, Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, Miramax, and of course, Sony Pictures Classics.
As on today, it boasts of more than 250 movie titles and about 50 TV shows, with at least 10 new titles being added on a monthly basis. These titles range across various genres such as Action, Comedy, Crime Drama, Horror, and Sci-Fi.
Some of the best movies that you can currently stream on Crackle include “The Guard”, “Lost in Translation”, “Shaun of the Dead”, “Taxi Driver”, “Stranger Than Fiction”, and “District 9”. A few good TV show titles on the platform are “News Radio”, “Firefly”, “The Tick”, “Seinfeld”, and “Happy Endings”. Following the footsteps of other paid services like Amazon Prime Video, Crackle has also forayed into making good-quality originals like “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”, “Sports Jeopardy!”, and “Chosen”.
One important thing to remember is that while Crackle refreshes its content every month by adding new titles, it also removes older titles that may no longer be in demand; so be sure to watch a movie or episode in one go! Another point to keep in mind is that the library is incomparable to paid services like Netflix for the obvious reason that Crackle is free. However, it’s worth mentioning that a few titles which are no longer available on Netflix can be found on Crackle! Overall, the content on Crackle is quite impressive in that it includes not only old flicks but also movies from the 2000s.
User-Interface and Video Quality
As far as loading speeds, streaming player controls, app design, and navigation is concerned, Crackle definitely shines considering that its free of cost. However, if lack of HD quality video is a deal-breaker for you, Crackle might disappoint.
1. Buffering Bugs: You’d be happy to know that we faced absolutely zero issues when it came to loading a particular video. From start to finish, including the commercials, there was no recess whatsoever. There were minimal delays and even those can be attributed to drops in our internet connection. However, we have seen quite a few users facing problems with regards to buffering, but that is a user-specific issue in our opinion.
2. Layout & Interface: Crackle’s mobile app definitely surpasses its web counterpart in terms of ease of browsing and overall design. On the web, it is a bit difficult to find titles simply due to the lack of useful categorization of content. On the mobile app (we used an iOS device), the homepage displays two main categories: Movies and TV Shows, further classified into sub-genres to make your search easier. If you click on a title, it’ll pull up useful information including the plot brief, ratings, genre, and the cast. Users can even register themselves to add titles to a “Watchlist” or take a look at their “Viewing history” for future reference. All in all, the interface is quite clean and straight-forward.
3. Streaming Player Options: Crackle’s streaming player is comparable with that of a premium service by virtue of customization capabilities. One can alter the subtitle settings in terms of language or how it appears on the screen (font size, font type, text opacity, and background). Aside from this, you can, of course, enter/exit the full-screen mode and control volume.
4. Video Quality: This is where you’re out of luck. None of the titles are available in HD quality. Instead, you’ll be able to stream them only in DVD/480p resolution. That said, it looks pretty decent on a smaller screen such as a smartphone or a tablet, or even a regular PC.
Crackle is currently available in about 21 countries including the U.S., Australia, Canada, India, and Latin America (18 countries). It’s important to note that Crackle has unfortunately discontinued their free version in Latin America earlier this year. Instead, users can subscribe to a Crackle-supported pay-TV provider and access ad-free content.
Crackle can be enjoyed on a vast variety of platforms including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, iOS and Android devices, Google Chromecast, select Smart TVs (Sony, Samsung, LG, and Vizio brands), Blackberry smartphones, Windows phones, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Mac/Windows operated laptops and desktops.
The Biggest Downside
The only noticeable drawback of Crackle is, advertisements! Usually, an ad will pop up before and after a movie/TV show episode and run about 30-seconds ad every 10-15 minutes throughout the content. Shorter the runtime, fewer the ads. Having said that, it’s not too bothersome and can be forgiven because there has to be some way for Crackle to earn if not through paid subscriptions, right?
Crackle has put in tremendous amounts of effort to make quality content available for free in numerous regions. If you appreciate old classics, fresh web-series, and a fair bit of documentaries but don’t have the budget to spend on paid services, Crackle is the way to go. On the contrary, if you cannot compromise on the recentness or video quality of content, you might have to do some more exploring. Nonetheless, we’d give Crackle a big thumbs-up given that it is after all a free app!