The reality is starting to set in: Coronavirus has a lot of people stuck at home. Sports are shut down. Some people are temporarily out of work or might be soon. Budgets for luxuries — like premium TV — are tightening.
So how do we stay entertained without breaking the bank with $20-a-pop movies on demand? Streaming services, of course.
It turns out that if you string together various streamers’ current free-trial offers just right, you can have a pandemic’s worth of entertainment without paying a dime. Some smaller streaming services are offering extended free-trial periods during the coronavirus crisis. Here are some to look for:
• Acorn TV has extended its usual seven-day free trial to 30 days for new subscribers. The streamer features British, Australian and Canadian television shows, foreign-language thrillers and more. After the trial it’s $5.99 a month or $59.99 for the year.
• Sundance Now is extending its seven-day free trial to 30 days for new customers with the promo code SUNDANCENOW30. The streamer features true-crime series, original dramas and exclusive thrillers. After the trial it’s $6.99 monthly or $4.99 a month with an annual membership.
• Shudder is extending its normal seven-day free trial to 30 days with the promo code SHUTIN. The streamer features horror movies and shows, plus thrillers and suspense. After the trial it’s $4.99 a month or $47.88 a year.
• Tubi is a free streamer that gets content from more than 200 partners, including Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM. The catch: It’s ad-supported. But — it’s free.
• Crunchyroll offers a 14-day free trial of its premium, ad-free, HD incarnation. The streamer features anime and Japanese programming. After the trial it’s $7.99 a month, $22.99 for three months or $79.99 for a year.
• Pluto TV is another free streamer that’s supported by ads. It offers live TV and movies and TV series on demand. Check out the half-dozen James Bond features.
• PBS is streaming Ken Burns’ four-part film “Baseball” for free on pbs.org and all PBS streaming services. It’s almost eight hours of sports-related content, folks.
For those who haven’t been streaming yet and think now might be the time to try it out, here are the free deals on the larger services. All require that you sign up with a valid credit card. Remembering to cancel on time? That’s on you.
• Amazon Prime Video offers a free 30-day trial, then charges $13 a month or $119 per year once the trial is over.
• Hulu offers a 30-day free trial, then charges anywhere from $5.99 a month for Hulu with ads to $60.99 a month for ad-free Hulu + Live TV.
• STARZ has a deal for new customers: $4.99 a month for the first three months. After that the cost increases to $8.99 a month.
• HBO offers a limited number of free pilots and series on its website. The HBO Now streaming service offers a seven-day free trial, then it’s $14.99 a month.
• Showtime is offering a 14-day free trial. After that it’s $10.99 a month or $109.90 per year.
• Apple TV+ offers a free one-year subscription with purchase of an Apple product or a seven-day free trial without purchase. After that it’s $4.99 a month.
• CBS All Access offers a seven-day free trial. After that the price is either $5.99 or $9.99 monthly, depending on whether there are commercials. Take about 15% off the price with an annual plan.
• Disney+ offers a seven-day free trial. After that it’s $6.99 a month, or $12.99 a month with Hulu and ESPN.
• Cinemax’s Max Go is not currently offering a free trial.