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- 1 Amazon Prime Video (30 days free, $9-13/mo. or $119/yr)
- 2 Hulu (one month free, $6-12/mo.)
- 3 HBO Max ($15/mo. for most, free for some)
- 4 Paramount+ (7 days free, $6-10/mo.)
- 5 YouTube TV (5 days free, $65/mo.)
- 6 YouTube Premium (one month free, $12/mo.)
- 7 Sling TV (3 days free, as low as $25/mo. first month)
- 8 Criterion Channel (14 days free, $11/mo)
- 9 Shudder (7 days free, $6/mo)
- 10 Sundance Now (7 days free, $7/mo.)
- 11 IFC Films Unlimited (one month free, $6/mo)
- 12 Acorn TV (7 days free, $6/mo.)
- 13 BritBox (7 days free, $7/mo.)
- 14 NickHits (7 days free, $8/mo.)
- 15 Noggin (7 days free, $8/mo.)
- 16 Motor Trend OnDemand (7 days free, $5/mo.)
- 17 Philo (7 days free, $20/mo.)
- 18 VRV (30 days free, $3-10/mo.)
- 19 IMDB TV (Free with Amazon Prime)
- 20 Pluto TV (free)
- 21 Kanopy (free)
- 22 Hoopla (free)
It’s been a year of pandemic living and that’s meant hordes of new viewers jumping on the streaming services — so much so that Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max have all scuttled their first-party free trial offers. But there are still plenty of content hubs to suit your tastes in live TV, animated series, docudramas, and the like. We’ve got discount or free offers from 22 streaming service options listed below, and they’ve all got huge libraries. Some are even free entirely.
Amazon Prime Video (30 days free, $9-13/mo. or $119/yr)
If you’re not an Amazon Prime member (or you have a spare email address you don’t tell anyone about), now could be the time to try out Prime Video. It’s got a pretty solid selection of originals and movies, but they’ve also got tons of TV and films available for rental or purchase a la carte, plus add-ons for most of the big premium channels like HBO if you want to have more of a one-stop-shopping video experience.
You get 30 days of free access, and even existing Amazon accounts are eligible for the free trial once every 12 months if they’ve had Prime in the past, so check and see if you’re eligible. After that, you can get Prime Video for $9/mo., the rest of the Prime benefits for an additional $4/mo. or choose to pay $119/yr.
Hulu (one month free, $6-12/mo.)
Hulu offers one month of free trial usage, and like Netflix, all you need is an email address not previously associated with Hulu. The one month trial is available for both the ad-supported ($6/mo.) and no-ad ($12/mo.) tiers. Hulu has a pretty wide selection of rotating movies (though nowhere near as much as Netflix) and day-after or week-after access to many broadcast and cable TV shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Rick & Morty.
You can also sign up for Hulu’s cord-cutter service, Hulu TV, for a one week trial. It’s $65/mo. thereafter, and includes ad-supported Hulu.
Hulu’s Disney+ and ESPN+ bundle is a good deal at $13/mo,, but it has no free trial option.
HBO Max ($15/mo. for most, free for some)
AT&T’s media empire, WarnerMedia, has every HBO production from Chernobyl to Game of Thrones plus shows and movies from D.C. Comics, Sesame Workshop, Cartoon Network, and licensed stuff from Crunchyroll and Studio Ghibli. All of this comes with an HBO Max subscription which costs $15/mo. and has no free trial.
Through March 1, however, you can get a 6-month subscription for $70 — $20 off the bundle and effectively reducing the rate to about $12/mo.
You can get Max free if you already pay for an HBO subscription (they’re effectively one and the same at this point) through multiple points, including:
- Amazon (Appstore/Prime Video Channels)
- Apple (App Store/Apple TV Channels)
- Consolidated Communications
- Google Play
- North State
- Service Electric Cablevision
- Verizon Fios
- Ziply Fiber
HBO Max is also free if you’ve subscribed to the AT&T Unlimited Elite wireless plan. Use your AT&T wireless account credentials when signing in.
Paramount+ (7 days free, $6-10/mo.)
CBS All Access will become Paramount+ on March 4 thanks to the ViacomCBS agglomeration. All this means is more content not just from CBS, but from BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, and Smithsonian Channel, plus originals like Picard.
Right now, it appears that the current price scheme will carry through the transition: all plans include a 7-day trial if you sign up via the web or mobile, after which it bills for $6/mo. if you want commercials, $10/mo. if you don’t.
Through March 3 at 3:59 p.m. PST, customers can save 50% on the annual $60 ad-supported plan and the $100 ad-free plan by entering coupon code PARAMOUNTPLUS at checkout.
YouTube TV (5 days free, $65/mo.)
YouTube TV is Google’s cordcutter subscription that includes a bunch of cable channels like CNN, Cartoon Network, FXX, BBC America, HGTV, and more. If you don’t have cable and just want to see whether you’d pay for a month or two of this while you’re stuck at home, this is a lot more convenient than getting real cable, though comes at the cost of reduced channel selection. YouTube TV has an Android TV app, too, so if you have a SHIELD or TV with Android TV built in, this is probably an option to look into versus something like Hulu TV or AT&T TVnow.
After the 5-day trial, YouTube TV is $65/mo.
YouTube Premium is really a great service if you watch a lot of YouTube. Being able to kick back without having to hit that “skip ad” button every time you start a video (or during mid-rolls) is a convenience that really adds up if you consume a lot of content on Google’s user-generated video platform. You can also watch videos in the background on your Android phone with the premium plan, which is something I frequently do. New signups get a month of Premium for free, then switch over to $12/mo.
Of course, this requires a Gmail address not previously associated with YouTube Premium, so if you’ve tried it before and cancelled, it may be a real pain to use a different address and set all your subscriptions back up.
Sling TV (3 days free, as low as $25/mo. first month)
Sling may not be a name you’ve heard in a while, but the service is still around, and offers one of the most compelling price points for cordcutting, so long as the channel packages meet your needs (and the app doesn’t make you tear your hair out).
It offers two basic plans — Orange has sports and kids channels, but allows for only one concurrent stream while Blue has news and general entertainment channels and room for three concurrent streams — with 50 hours of cloud DVR for $35/mo. each or get both plans (includes all channels and four streams) for $50/mo.
The company is currently offering new customers 3 days to try Sling out and $10 off their first month of service.
The Criterion Collection is a set of films selected by the Criterion Collection (redundant, I know), an arts organization dedicated to the preservation and curation of important films as judged by its selectors. Currently, that collection sits at over 1,000 films, all streaming in the quality and format their creators envisioned.
This includes classics like 3:10 to Yuma, Adaptation, Chungking Express, Rushmore, Dead Man, Death Race 2000, Godzilla, The Graduate, and many, many more. It’s a truly amazing collection of movie history, and a place you could absolutely get lost for weeks, if not months.
Shudder (7 days free, $6/mo)
Shudder is an AMC streaming service dedicated to horror fans. New customers can hop on for 7 days free, then renew at $6/mo., or at $57/yr.
If you’re feeling like you’re missing out on all the great indie flick releases at your local arthouse theater, Sundance Now from AMC is here to help. The on-demand streaming service from the company behind the Sundance Film Festival has a library chock full of amazing films and series, new and old, to get lost in. The service offers a one week trial, and subscriptions are $7 per month after that, with an option for a substantially cheaper annual pass ($60/yr.), as well.
IFC Films Unlimited, yet another AMC service, provides you streaming access to a large library of IFC’s films, though you do you need to be an Amazon Prime member or Apple TV owner to access this one: it’s only available on those two streaming platforms. After your trial, you’ll pay $6 per month to keep access to the library, which right now sits at over 400 independent films. Signup info here.
Acorn TV (7 days free, $6/mo.)
AMC’s Acorn TV has shows from across the Commonwealth countries, including the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Classics like Midsomer Murders and modern hits like Doc Martin are available for endless hours of binging, along with tons of fascinating documentaries spanning subject matters from archaeology, to fashion, to travel. The service gives you 7 days free, and it’s a reasonable $6 a month after that, with an option for annual discount if you so choose.
BritBox (7 days free, $7/mo.)
Britbox, a joint venture between the BBC and ITV, contains an absolute tidal wave of classic and contemporary British television. From Doctor Who, to Prime Suspect, to Mr. Bean, their collection is by far the greatest concentration of content in the UK you can stream in the US. While the trial is just 7 days long, when you’re getting stuff like the entire Doctor Who back catalog and comedy classics like Black Adder, the value at $7/mo. or $70/yr. is hard to argue.
NickHits (7 days free, $8/mo.)
If you want access to a massive back catalog of Nickelodeon content, the only way to get it is NickHits. This Amazon-exclusive library includes shows like Ren & Stimpy, Rocko’s Modern Life, CatDog, and The Fairly Oddparents. You’ll need to be a Prime member to subscriber, and you get a 7-day free trial, after which NickHits bills at a fairly steep $8 a month. More information here.
Noggin (7 days free, $8/mo.)
Noggin is a streaming service from Nick, and it’s basically Nick Jr: tons of videos for young children, many of which are educational in nature. Names you know well like Dora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues, and Peppa Pig are all here for your kids, no cable subscription required. You get a week of free service, after which Noggin bills at $8 per month.
I love Motor Trend OnDemand, and if you’re a car geek, you’ll probably love it too. The Motor Trend video team has some truly spectacular shows like Roadkill, Head2Head, and Dirt Every Day. They also have the licensed rights to nearly 200 old episodes of Top Gear.
You get 7 days free to start, down from its previous 14-day trial, but it’s a good supplemental subscription at $5/mo. or $45/yr. ($3.75/mo.)
Philo (7 days free, $20/mo.)
Philo competes with the likes of Sling, YouTube TV, and Hulu TV, with a selection of major cable channels, but does so at a very attractive price point. Its offerings include AMC, Animal Planet, BBC America, BET, CMT, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Food Network, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, History, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon, Oprah Winfrey Network, VH1, and more, so you’re getting some real heavy hitters in the cable space. There’s also a substantial on demand selection from Philo’s partners, so you’re not stuck with only live TV.
Their Android app rates surprisingly well, too. You can get a 7-day trial for free, then renew at $20/mo.
VRV (30 days free, $3-10/mo.)
If your jam is animation from both sides of the Pacific plus Asian dramas and gaming nerddom, VRV brings together all sorts of content from Crunchyroll, Mondo, Rooster Teeth, Cartoon Hangover, and HIDIVE for the value price of $10/mo. — that includes a 30-day free trial.
The site also facilitates individual premium subscriptions to each site starting at $3/mo.
IMDB TV (Free with Amazon Prime)
IMDB TV contains tons of great movies and TV series, all of which are free if you’re an active Amazon Prime member. Movies like Bladerunner 2049, WarGames, and Starsky and Hutch make the library a fairly compelling one, and shows like Schitt’s Creek are worth spending a lazy Sunday deep-diving into.
Pluto TV (free)
Pluto TV contains tons of free streaming live TV and movies. The catch is that it’s not on-demand, it’s just like watching broadcast. Cable channels like MTV, Spike, custom genre channels like Classic Toons, and news networks like Bloomberg TV and CNN are all available. There’s no real catch here.
Kanopy is a simple way to get access to your local library’s video collection free of charge; all you need is a library card. Your local library probably has more video than you think, and probably a lot of it is interesting documentary and indie film content you’ve never heard of (though they often have tons of classic films as well). There’s no cost, just put in your library card info and you’re set to go.
If your library doesn’t use the app Kanopy listed above, you should check out and see if it’s supported on Hoopla. Hoopla isn’t just video, it’s also books, music, comics, magazines, and more, but movies and video are part of the total package.
Update edited by Jules Wang.