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Shout Factory TV has a fascinating free collection of quaint retro TV shows and cult movies, but the streaming experience itself could use some premium polish.
Shout Factory TV Specs
|On-Demand Movies and TV Shows||Yes|
|Offline Downloads on Mobile||No|
Shout Factory specializes in reviving old, weird, and forgotten movies and TV shows for home video where they can be enjoyed by modern audiences. It brings that same energy to Shout Factory TV, a free streaming video service that showcases all sorts of bizarre entertainment curios that would fall through the cracks between big name services. Shout Factory TV’s library has a lot of schlocky charm, but we wish the streaming experience itself had a bigger budget.
What Can You Watch on Shout Factory TV?
What Can You Watch on Shout Factory TV?Most free streaming services have older libraries. Peacock is an exception, but unless there’s a premium subscription option, reruns are all these services can afford. Few services lean into this fact the way Shout Factory TV does. This isn’t the classic vintage cinema you’ll find on The Criterion Channel, but instead the cheap pop culture detritus that shameless TV channels aired just to plug holes in their schedules decades ago. And I say that with nothing but love—this is proud schlock.
The library spans all sorts of genres. You’ll find Bonanza, Digimon anime, 1998 Gwneyth Paltron dramedy Sliding Doors, Godzilla movies, and every episode of ALF. If you think something wasn’t quite popular enough to make the leap from VHS to DVD you might find it here. Netflix may have a hit show based on Glow, but Shout Factory TV has the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Even the channel’s original movies tend to celebrate old shows, like a documentary about Power Rangers fan conventions.
Some genres get far more love than others. No genre is as synonymous with schlock like horror, and Shout Factory TV has more than 250 horror movies, from Elvira flicks to the original Willard and Ben, from Sharknado retrospectives to something called Army of Frankensteins. For comparison, it only has nine entries under crime TV and just a single baseball show under sports.
Alongside the on-demand content, Shout Factory TV has “live” channels, 24/7 broadcasts dedicated to certain topics. Scream Factory TV plays nonstop horror, while the Mystery Science Theater 3000 channel plays nonstop mockery of said horror. Other channels include The Carol Burnett Show and Johnny Carson’s greatest hits. Shout Factory TV also occasionally broadcasts live events, like Patton Oswalt’s hand-picked B-movie marathon. It’s like going to a local film festival. You can chat on Twitch while viewing, and watch archived events in case you missed them.
Costs and Platforms
Shout Factory TV’s entire library is free with ad support. The only way to remove ads is to subscribe to Shout Factory TV’s premium Amazon Prime Video channel for $2.99 per month. Ads were surprisingly infrequent during my testing. I didn’t encounter a single one while watching a half-hour episode of 1970s Kamen Rider, while the Johnny Carson live channel had two-minute long ads promoting the channel itself.
The easiest way to watch Shout Factory TV is to just go to the website and stream it on your browser, either on your computer or on your mobile device. Trying to access the service through other platforms actually complicates things. There’s an Android app but no iOS app—only an Apple TV app. Shout Factory TV also spreads some of its content and channels onto other services like Amazon Freevee, Plex, Pluto TV, RetroCrush, The Roku Channel, Sling, and Tubi. But the only way to ensure you can see everything is by watching Shout Factory TV directly.
Shout Factory TV on the Web and Mobile
Shout Factory TV’s website is extremely straightforward. Unlike some other free streaming services, you don’t even need an account. Directing you toward content is the only thing that matters. The main page features a large carousel that rotates through movies, shows, or curated catalogs like AAPI Heritage Month. Beneath that you’ll find live channels, newly added videos for the month, and other highlights. Along with the search bar, the top navigation has links to film, TV, live channels, as well as events. Each of those categories also has subcategories where you can search through specific genres like Animation or Werner Herzog.
Since it’s free, you can stream Shout Factory TV on an unlimited number of devices, and playback was smooth over my home Wi-Fi connection (60Mbps download). I recommend adjusting the quality all the way up to 1080p. Note, however, that without an account, the website doesn’t deliver simple expected features like picking up a movie where you left off or adding favorite shows to a watchlist. Listings do show related videos, though, and you can share videos through social media. You can also leave comments through Disqus.
To be fair, Shout Factory TV’s Android app improves on the web experience in one area: You can add shows to a list of favorites. However, beyond that the app feels even more barebones than the website. Numerous times in testing the main page failed to fully load, only showing me the top image without the other other titles and categories that flesh out the rest of the page. Having fewer search options discourages you from browsing, and, unsurprisingly, you can’t download videos for offline viewing.
Accessibility and Parental Controls
As a free service with no accounts, there’s basically nothing stopping young viewers from watching all the kinky exploitation movies they want on Shout Factory TV. Mature videos do ask you to verify your age, but that’s easily faked. Parents should just hope that the old library itself is enough of a turn-off, it has big boomer energy.
When it comes to modern accessibility features, Shout Factory TV is also lacking. Many videos we watched didn’t include subtitles. Foreign-language shows did have English subtitles, but those were part of the recording itself, not an option you could toggle on and adjust.
Shout Factory TV and VPN
The only thing scarier than the gnarliest horror movie is browsing the internet without the protection of a VPN. Unfortunately, gaining that digital security often means losing access to streaming video services, unless they’re VPN-friendly, since spoofing your location interferes with regional licensing deals.
While connected to US-based ProtonVPN servers on a Windows PC, I could watch Shout Factory TV, even if playback was slower. However, once I switched to international servers I got a message saying the content wasn’t available in my country.
Throw Your Hands Up and Shout
It’s a narrow niche, but for a certain type of cinephile, Shout Factory TV will be a dream come true. At last, a free place to watch all the campy garbage you thought you hallucinated while surfing daytime TV channels as a kid. We just wish the library came packaged in a better service with more features on more platforms.
Peacock is our general Editors’ Choice pick for free streaming services and gets even better once you pay. For purely premium services, Hulu and Netflix are our Editors’ Choice picks.
For more on streaming, check out five reasons to ditch your video subscription and keep cable. Learn how to pick streaming services that fit your budget, and enjoy all sorts of reality show trash. Finally, check out our recommended streaming video guides if you don’t know what to watch.