Which Streaming Services Offer Free Trials?
“Free.” Doesn’t everyone love that word?
When it comes to free trials, that’s when heads start to really turn. Cord cutters have the freedom to get a small taste of live TV and on-demand streaming services and what they have to offer. After a week or more of obsessive binge-watching, the viewer can say, “Adios” and move on to the next. With so many streaming services offering free trials, there’s a lot to experiment with without hurting your wallet.
Each service has its pros and cons, but it’s all free, so why not check them all out? Below are some of our faves, but it’s up to you to explore and choose which one you like best!
Live TV Trials
fuboTV is a live TV streaming service with about 90 channels for US$64.99/month. This plan includes local channels, 27 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs).
fuboTV now has ESPN, Disney Channel, ABC, Nat Geo, FX, FXX, and other Disney-owned channels. The streaming service no longer carries channels from WarnerMedia-owned (CNN, TBS, and TNT) and those from A+E (A&E, History Channel, and Lifetime).
Pros: Sports nuts will be attracted to the large helping of sports content such as professional and college sports leagues.
Cons: The one potential downside is the lack of certain regional sports networks. Due to contract issues with providers, some fans may be unable to watch their local team. There’s also no TNT, which might be a dealbreaker for NBA fans.
Hulu Live TV is a live TV streaming service with more than 70 channels for US$69.99/month. This plan includes local channels, 32 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs). It also now includes The Disney Bundle, so you get Disney+ and ESPN+ at no extra charge.
Hulu + Live TV recently recently added ViacomCBS channels to the service. Hulu subscribers can now live stream BET, BET Her, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, MTV Classic, MTV2, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Paramount Network, TeenNick, TV Land and VH1.
Upgrades are available for premium channels, unlimited screens, and commercial-free access to Hulu’s on demand library.
Pros: In addition to a robust channel lineup, you’ll also get access to Hulu’s excellent on demand catalog. The original content is top-notch, and if you ever decide to become an official subscriber, there are bundles and add-ons to help you save. If you’re only interested in the on demand side of things, you can get a 30-day free trial (see below).
Cons: Hulu’s DVR only allows 50 hours of storage. You may miss out on some regional sports networks. Although there may be quality in the on demand content, there isn’t as much quantity. To put things in perspective, Netflix has about twice as much.
Philo is a live TV streaming service designed for entertainment lovers which includes 60+ channels for US$25 per month.
They have a single US$25 plan with major channels from A&E Networks, AMC Networks, Discovery, Hallmark, and ViacomCBS. These include A&E, AMC, BET, Comedy Central, Discovery, HGTV, MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Network. The service also has a Unlimited DVR, which now keeps your recordings for up to a year.
Pros: Bargain-hunters unite! Enjoy a week of 60+ channels to choose from, and don’t worry about missing your favorite show because the unlimited DVR takes care of it for you. Once the week is up, and you decide to take the leap and subscribe, you’ll be relieved to know that Philo is super affordable.
Cons: Due to its lower cost, there are no local broadcast stations, live sports, or major cable news networks. Philo only focuses on entertainment and lifestyle channels, so if that isn’t your jam, signing up for a trial probably isn’t worth the effort.
YouTube TV is a live TV streaming service with more than 60 channels for US$64.99/month. This plan includes local channels, 32 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs) in select markets.
With the recent addition of Viacom channels (BET, MTV, Comedy Central, etc.) to the service, they are only without Hallmark and A+E Networks (Lifetime, History, A&E).
YouTube TV offers select 4K content, including some live sports and on-demand shows, as part of their 4K Plus add-on. The 4K Plus add-on is $19.99 a month and also includes offline downloads and unlimited streams on your home network.
If you want a cheaper service with many of the entertainment channels on YouTube TV, you can subscribe to Philo which includes A+E, Discovery, Viacom, Hallmark, and other channels for just $20 a month after a 7-Day Free Trial.
Pros: An unlimited DVR lets you record as much TV as you want. The channel lineup is broad and covers most popular channels. YouTube TV also has an easy and clean user interface. You can even delete or rearrange channels in your channel guide. The service offers a 14-day free trial.
Cons: Some of the commercials are extremely repetitive. You can’t really make a skinnier bundle, so it’s a pricier option.
All plans include local channels and at least 34 of the Top 35 Cable Channels from AMC, A+E, Discovery (Food Network, HGTV, TLC, Discovery, etc.), Disney (ESPN, Disney Channel, etc), NBCU (Bravo, MSNBC, NBCSN, etc.), WarnerMedia (TNT, TBS, CNN, etc.), ViacomCBS (MTV, Comedy Central, etc.), and Hallmark.
They recently introduced new no-contract plans starting at $69.99 a month for their Entertainment Plan. You can upgrade to their Choice Plan, which begins at $84.99, that includes your local RSN and HBO Max for one-year. They also have have an Ultimate ($94.99 for 130 channels) and Premier ($139.99 for 140 channels). In addition to not having a contract, there are no extra RSN Fee or Broadcast TV fee.
Pros: DIRECTV STREAM is the king of regional sports networks. If you love sports, this service offers far more than any other. The channel possibilities are huge. Note - This is not a free trial outright, but there is a 14-day risk free period, so you can cancel and ask for a refund if the service isn’t right for you.
Cons: Once your free trial ends, DIRECTV STREAM can become wildly expensive. It’s sprawling channel packages may be a godsend for TV fans, but some may find the price too steep.
More live TV options:
NBA League Pass (7-day free trial) - Watch any game from any NBA team (blackouts apply). Choose home or away audio streams. The most premium tier of this service provides in-arena coverage where commercials would normally air.
MLB.TV (7-day free trial) - You can see every out-of-market game live or on demand, and choose home or away TV and radio feeds. The app allows fans to watch up to four games simultaneously on the same screen through their multi-view feature.
On Demand Trials
It offers a good selection of current TV shows and its ad-supported tier is cheaper than both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. You will be able to watch most shows from networks like ABC, NBC, Fox, and cable channels like Bravo, USA Network, FXX, FXM, HGTV, and more.
The service has a Limited Commercials plan for US$6.99 a month, or you can upgrade to their No Ads plan for US$12.99 a month. For US$69.99 a month, you can get Hulu Live TV from major cable channels, live locals and regional sports networks.
Pros: If you only want a trial of the on demand Hulu (minus the live channels), you get 30 days to sample the service. That makes it easier to rip through the catalog. Be sure to check out their documentary collection for some excellent titles. You’ll also find a lot of older sitcoms like “Cheers” available to stream.
Cons: The Hulu Originals slate is a little light, but it looks like that’s starting to turn around. After your 30 days, your willingness to continue may rely on whether the library of older content appeals to you, because new series are slow to arrive.
Amazon Prime Video is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 10,000+ movies, TV shows, and Amazon Originals & Prime Exclusives like Jack Ryan, Star Trek: Picard, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Homecoming, Outlander, and more.
The service also includes library access to shows like The Office, This Is Us, Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, and more. Amazon Prime Video has added live sports including NFL’s Thursday Night Football, PGA Tour LIVE, ATP & WTA Tour action, and select Premier League games.
Pros: You’ll love the huge movie library with over 10,000 titles (three times the amount of Netflix). The selection changes monthly, including A24 indie films and originals like “The Big Sick.” So make you sign up for a free trial before your favorite movie expires.
Cons: The library is huge, but bloated with a staggering amount of low-budget crud and pseudo-documentaries with incredibly slanted political agendas. Platform navigation is less than ideal.
Apple TV+ is a subscription video streaming service for £5 a month that includes high-quality originals shows and movies. While the quantity of content is limited for now, the service plans to add additional content every single month.
They have titles coming from Oprah, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Jason Momoa, J.J. Abrams, M. Night Shyamalan, Jennifer Garner, and Octavia Spencer.
If you purchase an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV, you can get a free year of Apple TV+.
Pros: You’ll see high-budget, gorgeous series, including the ultra-popular “Ted Lasso.” Everything looks and sounds great. Apple TV+ tends to lean toward high-concept sci-fi series.
Cons: The library isn’t particularly deep, so you may not find a reason to return all that often.
discovery+ is a video streaming service that offers more than 55,000 episodes of 2,500+ current and classic shows from several popular TV brands including Discovery, Investigation Discovery, HGTV, TLC, Food Network, A&E, Lifetime and History.
The service primarily focuses on non-fiction programming or “reality” TV shows.
discovery+ is available with limited ads for US$4.99 / month or ad-free for US$6.99 / month.
Pros: If you love “unscripted entertainment,” discovery+ has that in spades. It’s perfect “background TV” if you’d just like something on while you scroll on your phone or fold laundry.
Cons: You won’t find blockbuster movies or epic entertainment here. It’s aimed at its niche.
Paramount+ is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 12,000+ TV show episodes including originals Star Trek: Discovery, Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants, and MTV’s Laguna Beach. Meet captivating characters, catch up on your favorite sport, explore new worlds in the growing collection of Paramount+.
Previously under the name ‘CBS All Access,’ Subscribers can choose between their Essentials Plan (which includes ads) for $4.99/month, or go commercial-free with their Premium Plan for $9.99/month.
With their Premium Plan, in addition to not having ads, you will also get access to your local CBS affiliate to stream your local news, prime-time line-up, and late-night. You will also be able to download offline and watch select shows in 4K.
With the lower cost “Essential” plan, you will still be able to watch live NFL games, Champions League, and national news – but you will no longer get your local CBS affiliate like the old ad-supported plan.
With their new app, enjoy advanced recommendations, curated homepages, and new content categories while still being able to stream major live sports like NFL, College Football, College Basketball. Sports fans will also appreciate the service’s inclusion of NFL on CBS, PGA Tour, along with every match of UEFA Champions League and Serie A.
Pros: Offers 12,000+ TV shows and a continuously growing collection of films like the “Mission: Impossible” movies. Upcoming “South Park” movies will entertain fans of that franchise. Nickelodeon content will appeal to kids.
Cons: Paramount is a little light in the movie franchise department. Aside from “Star Trek” and “Mission: Impossible,” there aren’t many marquee names. Seven days should be enough to help you decide if this service is right for you.
STARZ offers a subscription video streaming service that gives access to content on STARZ without the need of a cable subscription. With your subscription, you’ll get access to all of their current originals like Outlander, Vida, and Power.
With your subscription, you’ll also get access to their critically acclaimed catalog of previous shows, as well as past seasons of shows like “Friday Night Lights”, “The Bernie Mac Show”, “ALF”, and “Miami Vice” and “Knight Rider.”
STARZ also has new-release films from Sony Pictures, which appear on the streaming service 7-8 months after they are in theaters. Every month they also have hundreds of additional older movies from major movie studios.
You can subscribe for US$8.99 a month either directly from STARZ, or through Amazon Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels, or Roku Premium Subscriptions.
Pros: STARZ offers a quirky collection of entertainment that strays from what you’d typically find on these services. Shows like “Spartacus,” “Black Sails,” and “Ash vs. Evil Dead” join movies like “Whiplash,” “Big Fish,” and “District 9.” You’re sure to find some hidden gems.
Cons: The library is certainly unique, but this may be the kind of service where you return every few months, rather than as a weekly habit. Give it a whirl for a week and see if there’s enough here to merit the subscription.
CuriosityStream is a subscription streaming service that offers 1,800+ documentaries and series on science, space, technology, nature, history, health, and more. The service was created by the Discovery Channel founder, John Hendricks, in 2015.
The streaming service includes both original and acquired content including those featuring Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough, Richard Dawkins, Peter Diamandis, and Richard Hammond.
The content is similar to the type of shows you may find on Discovery, The History Channel, Animal Planet, and The Science Channel.
CuriosityStream offers a two tiers: Standard for $2.99 per month ($20 per year) for HD streaming or Premium for $9.99 per month ($70 per year) for 4K streaming of 80+ shows. A small number of their episodes are available for free and presented by their sponsors.
Pros: If you’re a science enthusiast, this Discovery+ lookalike is for you. Explore various original documentaries like the thought-provoking “Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places.” The best thing about this platform is that everyone in your family can stream different shows at the same time.
Cons: There are fewer titles available than Hulu or Netflix and there is no comedy, action, horror, or other genre content. It’s also unavailable to stream on PlayStation.
SHOWTIME offers a subscription video streaming service that gives access to content on Showtime without the need of a cable subscription. With your subscription, you’ll get access to all of their current originals like Billions, Shameless, Homeland, Ray Donovan, Black Monday, and On Becoming a God in Central Florida.
With your subscription, you’ll also get access to their critically acclaimed catalog of previous shows like Dexter, Weeds, Nurse Jackie, House of Lies, Californication, Queer as Folk, and The L Word.
SHOWTIME also has new-release films from CBS Films, Amblin Partners, and IFC Films, which appear on the streaming service 7-8 months after they are in theaters. Every month they also have hundreds of additional older movies from major movie studios.
You can subscribe for US$10.99 a month either directly from SHOWTIME, or through Amazon Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels, or Roku Premium Subscriptions.
Pros: All the original Showtime titles that you love are listed like “Billions,” “Shameless,” and “Homeland.” There is also a complete library of every television series that the channel has released. Some of the documentaries are top notch, including “The Comedy Store” and “The Fourth Estate.” Showtime is willing to tackle edgier topics than more mainstream services.
Cons: The movie library is more “miss” than “hit.” At the time of this writing, it only featured 30 films with a rating of 8 or higher on IMDb.
Crunchyroll is a subscription video streaming service catering to fans of anime with over 30,000 episodes. Viewers can see new episodes of shows one hour after they air in Japan, and read hundreds of chapters across dozens of manga titles. Some of their more popular titles are Dragon Ball Super, Attack on Titan, and Fire Force.
Crunchyroll offers three plans. The “Fan” (US$7.99) plan allows streaming on 1 device, but no offline viewing. Their “Mega Fan” (US$9.99) plan allows viewing on 4 devices along with offline viewing. And the “Ultimate Fan” (US$14.99) plan offers viewing on 6 devices, offline viewing, and an annual swag bag, among other perks.
Pros: Anime buffs have access to 1,000 anime titles which include ones with Japanese voice acting and English subtitles, as well as titles with English dubs.
Cons: They only allow one profile, so users have to share the same queue. The content is also uncensored (which could be a good or bad thing depending on the type of viewer).
Shudder is a streaming video service specializing in horror, thriller and supernatural fiction titles. The service has a vast library of both classic and contemporary films as well as new, original programming such as Wolf Creek, and Slaxx. Shudder also benefits from content courtesy of AMC including Eli Roth's History of Horror and fan-favorite zombie survival series The Walking Dead. The platform is available to users in the U.S., Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland.
Shudder is available at a subscription rate of US$5.99 / month. However, a subscription of US$56.99 / year upfront works out to $4.75 a month for those who are confident in their unwavering appetite for quirky slashers and genre-bending sci-fi.
We recommend adding Shudder as a channel through Amazon Prime Video for maximum flexibility.
Pros: The platform’s audience is mainly horror-lovers due to its growing selection of scary originals and international content ranging from episodic and documentary-style shows to full length features. There are also classics like “Absentia” and “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.”
Cons: The obvious one would be that they don’t exactly have entertainment comprised of sunshine and rainbows. It’s also not compatible with PlayStation or Nintendo devices.
A foremost leader in anime distribution, Funimation content is viewed by tens of millions around the globe on a daily basis. With hundreds of TV shows (some of which can only be watched here), dubs, as well as a healthy dose of high-quality feature films, the anime you want to watch is here, whether an old classic film or a newly trending series. With choices like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009), My Hero Academia (2016), Fruits Basket (2019), and Ace Attorney (2016) you’ll certainly never be bored!
Funimation offers four different subscription tiers, with even the free variant offering the same plethora of content. Premium subscribers will also be able to watch ad-free from more devices at once, along with the option to download for offline viewing.
Pros: With two weeks of anime entertainment, dubs, and exclusive content, boredom is not an option here.
Cons: It’s a distribution platform, so there is no original content. Not necessarily a bad thing, but still worth mentioning.
More on demand options:
BET+ (7-day free trial) - Watch over 1,000 hours of Black content from the Black creators.
Ovid TV (7-day free trial) - An on-demand streaming platform, available in the US and Canada, that focuses heavily on independent movies.
Film Movement Plus (30-day free trial) - A video-on-demand platform centered around independent and international films.
Please consult The Streamable's full list of streaming services - most will offer at least a 7-day free trial.
Permanently Free Options
Tubi is a free video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 35,000 movies and television shows - more than any other streaming service. Fox executives have called their service “TV on steroids.”
Tubi’s programming includes films and television series from Fox Entertainment, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, Disney, and more.
Pros: Offers more content than any other streaming service. Don’t be fooled by the free price, there are A-list and award-winning titles that will even impress those with a richer taste. The library’s variety is also notable and offers niche categories like anime, faith, LGBTQ, and sci-fi & fantasy.
Cons: No parental controls can be a problem as some content contains nudity. Commercial breaks play every 25 minutes.
Pluto TV is a free live TV streaming service that provides more than 250 channels of live TV and thousands of on demand movies and TV shows.
Most of what you’ll find on Pluto TV qualifies as “background television.” It’s fine to keep on while you’re scrolling on your phone or cooking something in the kitchen.
Because these aren’t traditional live TV channels, it’s not a great option for live events, news, or sports, but it’s a solid choice for cord cutters who want to supplement their other services with some “comfort food” TV.
Pros: 007 fans need to check out Pluto, purely for its James Bond channel. There are also a lot of older shows like “The Nanny” and “Deal or No Deal.” So if you love retro TV and old classics, you may want to cancel weekend plans for a while.
Cons: Top cable channels like CNN, Bloomberg, and NBC News are available but only as stripped-down versions of the real thing. This also goes the same for sports channels as they often are just recaps or documentaries.
The Roku Channel is a free live TV streaming service that provides 200+ live linear streaming channels and more than 80,000 free movies and TV shows. The library contains entertainment from several different decades, including some major hits.
The service also made a splash by the acquisition of the Quibi library, now presented as Roku Originals. More original content is set to follow.
Users can add premium subscriptions to services like Showtime, STARZ, and AMC+ that can be accessed within the Roku Channel ecosystem.
Pros: The amount of free movies and shows is, quite frankly, overwhelming (in the best way possible). Plus, they have a Kids & Family section that is categorized by age.
Cons: Navigation can also be frustrating and seemingly endless. In addition, there are no parental controls. Not available on all platforms.
Crackle is a free video streaming service that includes on-demand access to movies and TV Shows.
Most of the content comes from Sony Pictures and its subsidiaries, including Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Classics, and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions.
Crackle also features “Crackle Original” series such as On the Ropes, Snatch, Going from Broke, Hidden Heroes, and The Oath.
Pros: There are a lot of classic television series that will transport you to the past of legendary comedy stars and sitcom actors. There are titles such as “My Two Dads” and “The Dana Carvey Show.”
Cons: The film selection is lacking, but there are some interesting documentaries. Also, the service doesn’t allow you to download titles for offline viewing.
More free options:
Documentary Plus - Has a wide variety of documentaries, including Academy Award-winning classics, box office hits, and cult classics.
Plex- Free on-demand content. It also allows you to create your own private on-demand streaming library and share them with friends.
IMDb TV- Offers a substantial library of free on-demand content.
Plex - Contains 20,000+ movies and TV shows including many throwbacks and guilty pleasures.
Xumo - Includes 180 completely free virtual channels, revolving reality TV, vintage TV, and game shows.
Related: Best Free Video Streaming Services