It seems trivial, but television shows can connect us to friends and colleagues. It’s the safe small talk we can dip into before a meeting begins, but it can also denote status. Are you current or are you living under a rock? Sometimes you want to stand out from the crowd, but maybe you don’t want to be seen as a Luddite or aesthete, at least not in front of colleagues or competitors.
And, if you feel social pressure to screen the latest thing, imagine how much more your kid must endure. Being in the know is part of a kid’s social capital. It’s a rare child who has the charisma to make up for a deficit like lack of access to culturally significant programs.
So, how do you stay relevant and entertain your family without going into debt? Those services add up, right? Multiple streaming services can easily end up costing more than traditional cable TV.
Here’s how to keep your hand in the game on the cheap
First thing to do is type “free video streaming services” into your web browser’s search box. The list I’ve compiled below is current, but it’s sure to change.
Right now you can sign up for a number of free trials. Sling-TV has a 14-day free trial, and the service gives access to live-streaming cable channels including many popular ones:
Here are some of the individual streaming services offering free trials right now:
BritBox – 7 days free
CBS All Access – One month free
Disney+ – 7 days free
HBO Now – 30 days free
Hulu – 30 days free
Netflix – One month free
Starz – 7 days free
WWE Network– One month free
It’s worth noting again, that these are all moving targets. Streaming services regularly change their offers.
HACK: Here’s a tip. In my little household, we are staggering our free trials because we’re going to be bingeing the same content. If another adult makes up part of your household, create separate accounts. That way when one free trial ends you can begin another using their separate login and password. Most streaming services allow for household sharing.
Free no-fee no trial streaming
If you want access to news, sports, and old movies, you’ll need another service platform.
Pluto TV comes up as number one in my search today for free no-fee streaming. All you need is a device (or home computer) and high-speed internet access to begin to stream movies, sports, news, and TV shows for free. You will have to watch commercials as a trade-off.
The platform has tons of content to sift through, but limited current movie and TV offerings.
Other services with a mix of free and paid streaming
Vudu and Plex offer free content and allow you to pay for access to new releases. For the traditional cable TV person looking to cut the cord, this translates to what HBO or Showtime offer, but online. Vudu (paid) gives great access to new releases before they hit Netflix or Hulu. So, it doesn’t hurt to sign up for a free account just to have the potential to “stream-it-first.”
And, of course, there’s Roku. But, you have to purchase one of the streaming service’s proprietary devices in order to access the free content. (That might be worth it as the company has steadily improved its free offerings).
TIP: If you want to rewatch Schitt’s Creek right now, I’m going to let you in on a secret: IMDb TV. Who knew, right? But if you look at the top of the IMDb webpage, click the button next to the menu. There’s some free binge-worthy stuff right there.
Whether you want to cut the cord entirely or add dimension to your current cable TV offerings, it’s worthwhile to sign up for a few of these free streaming services. Many of them allow streaming on multiple devices and family members, so the tweens don’t have to be in the same room with you.
Online entertainment is where we are right now, so why not make the most of what’s out there? If you think they all sound the same, let me offer a recommendation. A few streaming services, like Vudu and PlutoTV, are differentiating themselves from the pack.
For example, if you are raising a young science nerd, PlutoTV gives you access to a NASA channel. And you can’t beat having access to a channel dedicated to showcasing cat videos 24/7.
And Vudu seems to know what we will most want to watch and makes sure account holders can access it before competitors. The two services complement each other without much overlap.
Don’t forget to Unsubscribe
You really can’t go wrong with a free trial, but remember to keep it free.
For the most part, it’s up to you to know when your trial ends. Many of the brand name streaming sites will demand your credit card information before your free streaming starts, but only a few companies, like CBS, will warn you’re about to reach the end of your trial period. Other services will automatically begin to charge you if you don’t end your subscription. So drop a note onto your calendar as a reminder to unsubscribe when the time comes so free doesn’t accidentally turn into fee.
–By Nic Desmet