Streaming TV: Free options and deals for when you’re sheltering at home
The coronavirus pandemic and its attendant shelter-in-place edict haven’t kept people from becoming complete indoor hermits. It’s still OK to go to the grocery store, and, if anything, the current situation has led to a surge in people going out for a simple walk around their neighborhoods.
But we’re all spending more time than usual indoors. That’s especially true if you have kids home from school. You, too, might be perusing more video-streaming options. With all the charges involved, it can be a bit of a challenge choosing which services are worth paying for. Fortunately, most streaming TV providers offer a free trial period to give you a taste of their programming before their monthly fees kick in, and a handful are also extending their regular trial periods or cutting prices during the coronavirus crisis.
Here’s a primer on some streaming TV services and the deals that might help you get through the next several weeks of hunkering down at home:
The king of the video-streaming hill had 61 million subscribers in the United States at the end of 2019. Not everyone in the country is yet watching “Narcos” or “Stranger Things,” of course, but new subscribers will get a 30-day free trial when they sign up — and pay at least $9 a month for their memberships.
The premium cable TV network has extended its free initial trial period from seven to 30 days for new subscribers who sign up by May 3. The service costs $11 a month after the introductory period.
The Disney-owned home of series such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” offers a 30-day free trial period, after which subscriptions start at $6 a month. And speaking of Disney…
If you want to watch the “Star Wars” movies, “Frozen” and “Frozen II”, and the original series “The World According to Jeff Goldblum”, Disney+ is the place to go. Get it free for seven days before paying $7 a month. If you use Verizon for your cell phone service, you can get Disney+ free for a year. There’s also a bundle that includes Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $13 a month.
This streaming service specializes in British programming, but also includes shows from places such as Australia, Ireland and Canada, and some non-English-speaking nations. Like Showtime, Acorn has extended its seven-day trial period to 30 days for new subscribers, followed by a regular price of $6 a month or $60 for a year.
This streaming services specializes in documentaries, and may be one of the best overall deals around. It normally costs just $20 for a year, but between now and April 6, new subscribers can get the service for $12 for the first year.
If you’ve ever wondered what “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is all about — or want to relive “The Sopranos” — you can do that for free for seven days. It’s $15 a month thereafter.
Amazon Prime Video
This one comes free for 30 days, along with your Amazon Prime membership. Among its offerings: 21 James Bond movies will be available for streaming starting April 1. You should be able to get through all of those before your free trial period ends and the regular $119 annual fee kicks in.
This service, which includes documentaries, indie films and some original and international series and movies is extending its free trial period to 30 days from its standard seven-day offer. After that, the price goes to $7 a month.
If you’ve had enough of the English language, then this streaming service — which offers only foreign language fare from Europe — could be for you. You’ll have seven days to watch French cop shows like the awesome “Spiral” for free, then it’s $8 a month.