Crackle is a joint venture between Sony Picture Television and Chicken Soup for the Soul. While Sony is a very familiar brand, Chicken Soup for the Soul is not so well known. This media company started out as a publisher focusing on self-help and inspirational story titles. It then branched out into video, continuing its reality-based theme with advice on self-improvement.
The video streaming service started up in 2004 and was originally called Grouper. Sony bought the company in 2006 and renamed it Crackle. The system was rebranded to Sony Crackle in 2018. Chicken Soup for the Soul bought a majority stake in the company in 2019 and then changed the name back to Crackle, although Sony still owns shares in the company.
Amazingly, Crackle is free to watch. The service is ad-supported and includes original programming plus reruns of shows first aired elsewhere. The movie library of the service doesn’t include any headliner blockbusters. However, it’s free, so you get what you pay for.
How is Crackle different?
With the exception of YouTube, most online streaming services require an account for access. Crackle plays without the need to set up an account and login. The video library is focused on reality shows that offer inspiration. The rest of the content in the library is a little old and not so inspiring.
Crackle does offer accounts for viewers and they are free. The advantage of setting up an account is that it enables the system to track viewing history and tailor the video library menu accordingly. On some devices, such as smart TVs and game consoles, logging in before viewing is a chore that would put a lot of people off watching the channel so Crackle allows viewers to register such devices so they can access personalized features without the step of logging into an account. However, those devices are able to access Crackle even without being registered – they just won’t get the personalization features.
Another difference with Crackle is the way it handles binge-watching. With Amazon Prime or Netflix, any user that selects an episode of a series will automatically get rolled on to the next episode as each installment ends. Crackle moves on to an episode of a different series as each episode ends, which creates a service that is more like a scheduled TV channel rather than a video on demand system. Viewers can jump out of the sequence and opt to watch the next episode instead of being led through a schedule. Those who create accounts have more opportunities to tailor their viewing experience and set how the show roll-on behaves.
Videos are broken up with advertisement segments, which is another way that the Crackle service appears to be just like watching a TV channel.
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Who is Crackle best for?
Anyone who just can’t afford to pay anything for TV would benefit from access to Crackle. A lot of the shows on the service are really old, so people seeking nostalgia would love the Crackle library. I Dream of Jeanie, the original Charlie’s Angels, and S.W.A.T. are just some of the oldies available on Crackle.
The TV search system doesn’t have Children’s or Sports categories. Sony Crackle is not a premium service, it just provides stuff to watch.
How to access Crackle
Crackle operates for free in the USA and Australia. The service is available in other countries but only through TV carriers and part of a pay-TV bundle. Although Crackle appears in Spanish and Portuguese in countries where those are the official languages, the online streaming service is only available in English and only shows English language content.
Crackle’s free streaming service is only available over the internet, so viewers need an active internet connection. The streams can be sent directly to LG and Samsung smart TVs other TV sets will need a set-top box. Crackle can be channeled through any Android-based set-top box, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV Stick and Amazon Fire TV Cube.
The Crackle website includes a media player and all shows can be accessed there. The site can be reached through Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Opera, and Safari browsers. Android and Amazon Fire mobile devices can access crackle through an app and there is also an app for iOS devices – which means iPhones and iPads.
Crackle can be channeled through Xbox and PlayStation game consoles. Videos streamed on computers and mobile devices can be routed to TV sets with Google Chromecast and Vizio TV devices.