- 1 Netflix (30 days free, $9-16/mo)
- 2 Amazon Prime Video (30 day trial, $13/mo or $119/yr)
- 3 Hulu (one month free, $6-12/mo)
- 4 Disney+ (7 day trial, $7/mo)
- 5 HBO Now / Go (7 days free, $15/mo)
- 6 CBS All Access (7 day trial, $6-10/mo)
- 7 YouTube TV (5 day trial, $50/mo)
- 8 YouTube Premium (one month trial, $12/mo)
- 9 AT&T tvNOW (7 days free, $65-135/mo)
- 10 Sling TV ($10 off your first month, $30-45+/mo)
- 11 Criterion Channel (14 day trial, $11/mo)
- 12 Shudder (One month trial w/ code, $6/mo)
- 13 Sundance Now (7 days free, $7/mo)
- 14 IFC Films Unlimited (One month trial, $6/mo)
- 15 NickHits (7 days free, $8/mo)
- 16 Motor Trend OnDemand (14 days free, $5/mo)
- 17 Acorn TV (7 days free, $6/mo)
- 18 Noggin (7 days free, $8/mo)
- 19 BritBox (7 days free, $7/mo)
- 20 Philo (7 days free, $20/mo)
- 21 Crunchyroll (14 days free, $8/mo)
- 22 IMDB TV (Free with Amazon Prime)
- 23 Pluto TV (free)
- 24 Kanopy (free)
- 25 Hoopla (free)
When it comes to picking your video streaming subscriptions, you’ve got a lot of options out there. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Disney+ are the big names, but what about specialty content you may not have bothered with until your playlists ran dry? British TV, horror films, anime, classic movies, and indie flicks all have some great options out there in 2020 you can subscribe to. But you don’t want to pay for like, ten new things you may not keep just to try them, so we’ve assembled the free trial policies for many of these services for you to check out (maybe, uh, with a new email address and different credit card) while the current situation with coronavirus continues to unfold. There are tons of ways you can binge awesome new stuff without paying a dime (at least, for a limited time), so let’s get down to our list of 25 services and their trials and pricing.
Netflix (30 days free, $9-16/mo)
Netflix offers 30 days free on all of its tiers, including the $16/month Premium tier with Ultra HD (4K) content. That tier allows up to 4 devices to stream at once, so if you’re just here for the trial, it only makes sense to choose that option. Netflix will allow you to open a 30-day trial account with any email address previously unassociated with the service.
Amazon Prime Video (30 day trial, $13/mo or $119/yr)
If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, now could be the time to sign up, if only to hoard various things and stream Prime Video. Prime Video has 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 Prime 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.
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 $55/mo thereafter, and includes ad-supported Hulu.
Hulu’s Disney+ and ESPN+ bundle is a good deal at $13/mo, but has no free trial option.
Disney+ (7 day trial, $7/mo)
Disney+ doesn’t have the best free trial out there, at just one week, but it’s arguably the strongest library outside Netflix for median content value (Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and every Disney film), making its $7/mo price pretty easy to justify. You can also just buy an annual subscription for $70/year, which is a pretty decent discount on the monthly price.
HBO Now / Go (7 days free, $15/mo)
Game of Thrones and every other iconic HBO series can be at your fingertips with HBO Now, but they’ll only be free for 7 days. After that, it’s $15/mo.
Of note, AT&T Unlimited & More and AT&T Unlimited Elite wireless subscribers get HBO Go for free, which has the same content as Now, just inside a slightly different app and web player. Just sign in using the AT&T Wireless provider option in the HBO Go app or on the HBO Go website.
CBS All Access (7 day trial, $6-10/mo)
CBS All Access provides a 7-day trial if sign up via the web or mobile, after which it bills for $6/month if you want commercials, $10/month if you don’t. It’s worth noting that this includes access not only to all CBS shows, but every episode of Star Trek, including the new series Discovery and Picard.
YouTube TV (5 day trial, $50/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 $50/mo.
YouTube Premium (one month trial, $12/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 UGC 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.
AT&T tvNOW (7 days free, $65-135/mo)
AT&T’s tvNOW service is a pretty new entrant to the cordcutting wars, and at $65/month starting, it’s one of the most expensive services out there. But that’s largely because it includes HBO out of the box, whereas most other services offer it as an add-on.
tvNOW offers a bunch of packages with special interest, sports, and foreign language channels, and prices can go up to $135/mo before add-ons. Because it’s AT&T, I strongly recommend against this service on principle.
- AT&T’s website is terrible
- The signup flow is confusing bordering on absurd (AT&T TV and tvNOW are two different services!)
- The “free” HBO is only available to select wireless plans
- I bet it’s a pain in the ass to cancel
If you have one of AT&T’s new Super Unlimited Whatever plans and can get the free HBO perk to work, tvNOW might be worth checking out, but I’m personally not even willing to touch it.
Sling TV ($10 off your first month, $30-45+/mo)
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).
At $20 for your first month on the most basic package (and Sling’s promise of easy online cancellation), this could be an option if you just want the cheapest cable replacement possible. The basic package includes channels like Disney, ESPN, Food Network, Cartoon Network, and AMC, so there are some worthwhile things in here.
Criterion Channel (14 day trial, $11/mo)
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 (One month trial w/ code, $6/mo)
Shudder is a dedicated horror film streaming service, and you can use the code “SHUTIN” to get one month free. Otherwise, the trial is limited to 7 days. Shudder renews at $6/mo once your trial is over, or at $57/year ($4.50/mo) if you annually.
Sundance Now (7 days free, $7/mo)
If you’re feeling like you’re missing out on all the great indie flick releases at your local art house theater, Sundance Now 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, as well.
IFC Films Unlimited (One month trial, $6/mo)
IFC Films Unlimited provides you streaming access to every IFC theater release the day it drops, 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 $6 per month to keep access to the library, which right now sits at over 400 independent films. Signup info here.
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.
Motor Trend OnDemand (14 days free, $5/mo)
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, which is what keeps my $5 every month in their pocket. You get 14 days free to start, though, which is pretty decent.
Acorn TV (7 days free, $6/mo)
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.
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.
BritBox (7 days free, $7/mo)
Britbox contains an asbolute 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 per month is hard to argue.
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 for just twenty bucks. 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.
Crunchyroll (14 days free, $8/mo)
Crunchyroll is the definitive streaming service in the US for anime and Asian drama TV, but includes a large manga collection as part of its offerings, as well. Well-worn names like One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, and Attack On Titan provide hundreds of hours of awesome anime goodness, all with the original Japanese voice casts as their creators intended. There’s no larger library of anime available in America, so if you’re looking for a place to park $8 a month for Japanese cartoon goodness, Crunchyroll is the definitive pick.
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.