Long-term Free Streaming Strategies We Can All Use
We are all drowning in content. There are so many TV shows, movies, documentaries, and streaming services out there. One could come to the conclusion that there is too much out there. For instance, have you ever stared at Netflix options for ten minutes, but still can’t decide? However, for consumers, all of these content options are a good thing. Ryan S previously highlighted the variety of free streaming trials available. Free trials can and do run out, though. Can we do any better? How can we leverage these streaming services and a few other options for free long-term entertainment?
One Service at a Time
The sheer amount of different streaming services astounds me. Indeed, Ryan totaled 24 different free streaming trials in his article alone. And those were just the ones offering free trials at that time; the list could grow even larger. So many streaming services exist that there are actually apps which organize all of your different streaming subscriptions. Seriously?
Instead of subscribing to multiple streaming services simultaneously, pick one service and devote your TV time there. The benefits of this decision are three-fold. First, simplicity! Second, you can obtain maximum value out of your selected service. You can dive deeper into that service and ensure you are watching everything, or at least more, of what you care about. And finally, with this methodical approach you are building in more free trial time with other services long-term, since you aren’t burning free trial options simultaneously.
Effectively Timing Your Subscription
Every so often, you may be interested in a live TV channel for one specific series. Rather than pay for two or more months of streaming service for a certain channel’s TV series, optimally time a streaming trial so that you can watch the whole series in the span of the free period. Some TV streaming services allow DVR-like access to previous show episodes, allowing users access to some or all of a current TV series. I’m actually using this method to watch Better Call Saul, my favorite TV show still running. Prior to joining a service, know its capabilities and limitations, though. This guide on the Cordcutters subreddit is a great reference for this type of information.
Remember Player 2
Player 2, aka your spouse or domestic partner, will most likely be able to get another free trial of the same streaming service that you have already received. For those of you living in the same household, this is a great option for effectively lengthening free streaming trials.
Free Trial Encore!
Periodically, streaming services have offered free trials to previous members. For instance, I’ve received emails from multiple services in the past advertising more free trials. While these offers are infrequent and you can’t necessarily rely on them, why not take advantage of them when they do arrive?
In the past, even the act of canceling has created more free streaming time. Specifically, Hulu offered me another free month while I was canceling. Again, this is not something to plan on receiving, but be on the lookout for it with these services.
Free Long-term Streaming Services
I want to particularly highlight that there are several streaming services that are permanently free. Access them whenever you want!
The PBS app holds a variety of high-quality content that we all get gratis, including news, documentaries, dramatic series, and children’s content. My favorites are PBS NewsHour and Austin City Limits. For those of you who love documentaries, you will find something to enjoy by perusing the Frontline library.
Library Streaming Services
Also, if you belong to your local library, they often have partnerships with certain streaming services for free streaming access. For instance, my local library grants me access to Hoopla, an app where I can check out movies, TV, music, and eBooks.
Apps With Free Content (And Commercials)
A seemingly growing number of services are offering free live TV programming, albeit of a limited nature. Pluto TV and Sling Free are just a few. And yes, Crackle is still around for free movies and TV! Also, Roku owners should check out the Roku Channel app, which I like for their eclectic selection of movies and TV which updates (at least) every month. For instance, after watching every episode of Growing Pains, you can follow that up with a midnight viewing of Night of the Living Dead.
SiriusXM – Currently Free!
Finally, I want to quickly plug that SiriusXM is offering free access to their internet radio service through May 15. I’ve been a long-time subscriber to SiriusXM, and enjoying their service for free is a no-brainer for everyone! In addition to music and talk, many TV channels simulcast their stations on SiriusXM.
Don’t Forget Physical Media
While streaming services have made a lasting impression on how we consume much content, it’s easy to forget that many of us have content literally on the shelf. I value my CD, Blu-ray, and DVD collection and still regularly enjoy titles from my personal library. Like me, you still may have a few titles you have never gotten around to watching or listening to. We can be our own greatest resource here. And there is no streaming service required!
Also, once we overcome our collective COVID-19 challenge, remember to patronize your local library. I’m consistently surprised by the variety of physical media they hold for everyone’s benefit. Oh, and remember books are there, too!
One TV Service I Would Pay For
Eventually, I may come to the point where I want live TV but I’ve used up all free TV trial options. In this case, I plan to subscribe to Philo. They have a great variety of entertainment and news channels for $20 a month. How is it so cheap? One apparent reason is that there are no sports channels in the lineup, which usually substantially drive up the cost. And, oh by the way, you may have noticed no live sports are happening these days, anyway! Also remember, when sports come back, many events can be picked up in beautiful HD with a digital antenna.
Those are just a few long-term free streaming strategies. With all of the options out there, each of us can customize and develop our own plan. And most of us can do it for free with minimal extra effort. What free streaming tips and tricks do you suggest?