The Crackle TV channel (app), that is available on network media players and media streamers, now offers free uncut movies and TV shows. The service is free because the shows are interrupted with regular commercial breaks. Still, unlike films shown on TV stations, the films are streamed in their entirety without concern for how long they run.
The service offers an alternative to video on demand and monthly paid subscription online streaming services — Netflix, Vudu, iTunes, Hulu Plus. Sony owns Crackle TV and is certainly betting that viewers will be willing to put up with a few ads in exchange for free content.
Crackle TV originally streamed only original content and "minisodes" — five-minute edited versions of old ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s TV shows. The original episodes are condensed to show only scenes with major plot points.
Crackle's new offering reads like a Columbia Pictures library list from the ‘60s though ‘90s. Classic TV shows include "I Dream of Jeannie," "Bewitched," "The Partridge Family" and "The Three Stooges" — all shows now owned by Sony Pictures. Movies include "Ghostbusters ," "Flatliners," "Revenge" and "Starman."
Crackle's web page explains that there is a window of time during which the movie is made available. After that time period, only video clips are shown, but the movie title may become available again in the future. This must be the case for a couple of listed movies like "A Few Good Men" and "Groundhog Day."
A representative for Sony explained that the company is being mindful of other existing revenue streams. In other words, Sony may pull a movie that is making money on a subscription or a video-on-demand service, or that is being re-released on DVD.
While the TV shows may be uncut, they may not be uncensored. I watched an episode of the Showtime series "The United States of Tara." The show was clearly cleaned up of any "offensive" language.
Crackle is available on Google TV, under the "spotlight" section, and on the Roku box and Sony's Network Media Player. The Crackle channel on the Boxee Box has not been updated and still will only play minisodes and original content.
There are a limited number of titles, so it probably won't be enough to cancel your Netflix Instant Que membership. Still, there is no cost to find some of your old favorites and the commercial breaks give you time to pop some popcorn or get a drink from the fridge.
While you are checking out Crackle's full-length films and TV shows, check out the minisodes. They are good for a chuckle when you realize how little substance the original old episodes contained.