Brow Beat

The Streaming Services You Can Watch for Free While You’re Stuck Inside

There’s literally never been a time like now to take advantage of these deals.

Screengrabs from Showtime, Sling TV, Shudder, and Acorn TV.
Screengrabs from Showtime, Sling TV, Shudder, and Acorn TV

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, and more people find themselves in mandatory or selective quarantine, the question of how to pass the time and stay sane while on lockdown has grown to a matter of international importance. Many are trying to see this moment as an opportunity, using the abundance of time at home to learn a new skill, catch up on reading, to call old friends, or take a walk. There are many great and productive ways one could spend one’s days in isolation. But sometimes, all you want is to put on your pajamas, curl into a ball on the couch, and escape it all for an hour or two by melting into a great movie (or 10 consecutive episodes of your favorite show).

In a gesture of generosity for those in quarantine (or perhaps as a way of nabbing a captive audience), several streaming providers have decided to lift their paywalls and offer temporary extensions on free trials. These trials, which provide access to shows and movies across a wide range of genres and networks, are a small gift for everyone facing the possibility of weeks stuck at home. Here is a complete list of the networks offering free trials or extensions for those stuck at home.

Showtime

Friday morning Showtime announced that it will begin offering a 30-day free trial to new customers effective today. Viewers who sign up before May 3 will have access to the network’s full portfolio of television series, specials, and movies online. Highlights include: Ray Donovan, Dexter, and Homeland, which will continue to air new episodes of its final season through April 26.

Sundance Now

Sundance Now, the streaming service best known for its large selection of true-crime, thrillers, and dramas, is now extending its seven-day free trial to 30 days, with the code SUNDANCENOW30. Owned by AMC Networks, Sundance Now also offers a variety of documentaries and television series, including the acclaimed miniseries The Little Drummer Girl and the show McMafia.

Acorn TV

For all the anglophiles out there, this U.K.-centric streaming service is now offering a 30-day free trial to customers who use the code FREE30 when signing up. (The free trial is usually one week.) The streaming service, which is currently only available in select countries, specializes in British programming including titles like the popular series Midsomer Murders and the medical dramedy Doc Martin.*

Met Opera

The Met, like many live performance venues across the country, closed its doors and canceled all upcoming shows in an attempt to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. But, beginning this week it began streaming for free encore presentations of its Live in HD opera series. “We’d like to provide some grand opera solace to opera lovers in these extraordinarily difficult times,” said Met general manager Peter Gelb.

Sling TV

Dish-owned TV streaming service Sling TV announced it’s making a selection of its content available to stream for free, no credit card or account required. “Stay in & SLING,” as the free service is called, includes thousands of shows and movies including ABC News Live, content for families, as well as lifestyle and entertainment programming.

Starz

In an gesture of generosity for those in quarantine, the network subsidiary of Lionsgate is making select titles from their library available for free to non-subscribers. Shows available for free streaming include the first full seasons of Black Sails, The Girlfriend Experience, American Gods, and Vida, along with the pilots of a number of their original shows. At this time, the free deal will be available until the end of March, though it could very well be extended.

Vid Angel

The family-friendly streaming service that allows viewers to skip “objectionable” content like profanity, nudity, sex, and graphic violence, is now available for free use until March 30 (it’s usually $10) with the caveat that users must agree to practice social distancing. The platform, which boasts “the world’s largest library of clean comedy,” can be particularly helpful for parents working from home, who may have a hard time closely monitoring what their children are watching.

Shudder

Horror junkies, rejoice! This gore-and-suspense-centric streaming service just extended its free trial to 30 days with the code SHUTIN. If the current reality wasn’t scary enough, it is now possible to binge free-of-charge on classic horror flicks like Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Shudder is currently available in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Ireland.

Correction, March 22, 2020: This post originally misidentified Midsomer Murders at Midsomer Mysteries.