You’re probably spending more time at home right now, and maybe you’re looking for a new streaming service to try—preferably without paying, at least until you decide to commit. Netflix and Disney+ have ditched their free trials, but there are plenty of other music and movie streaming services you can try out without spending a dime, at least for a little while.
These are our current favorites across audio and video streaming services, and we’ve avoided the usual suspects like Hulu, Prime Video, and Spotify that you’re probably already signed up for, or at least have tried at some point. It’s hard for smaller operations to stay competitive, but these services are managing it, and well worth checking out.
The Criterion Channel
Attention, serious cinephiles: The Criterion Channel offers up one of the most eclectic movie streaming experiences around, giving you access to more than 1,000 classic and contemporary Criterion Collection films (plus 350 shorts), as well as a library of special features that are almost all fascinating. You get curated series on directors, stars, and genres, as well as interviews with the biggest names in the business. Access is $11 a month or $100 a year, with a 14-day trial available to see if you like it first.
If you haven’t yet given one of the newest streaming services in the business a try, now might be the perfect time. And instead of a free trial, Peacock offers a whole free tier that you can enjoy without paying anything (you just get less content and more ads). If you decide you like what you see, you’ll need to pay $5 a month for fewer ads or $10 a month for no ads at all. Peacock is packed with Universal movies and NBC shows, including Parks & Recreation and The Affair, and it’s getting the rights to The Office from the start of next year, too.
This service is one for fans of British television shows, as the name sort of gives away: BritBox is a creation of the BBC and ITV networks in the UK, and offers nearly 300 shows and more than 60 movies for you to binge watch. It’s particularly good when it comes to classic fare, from Agatha Christie murder mysteries to vintage episodes of Doctor Who, but there’s a good smattering of newer stuff here as well. You get a week to try the service for free, and after that you’ll need to pay $7 a month or $70 for a whole year.
Mubi works a little differently from other streaming services in that it has a constantly rotating selection of films, with a new one added every day. It’s kind of like an unlimited movie theater pass, but one that you watch in your own home, and the choice of movies is hard to fault. It’s particularly strong when it comes to arthouse and foreign films, which feels like the exact opposite of some of the made-by-committee movies you can find on other services. After a 7-day free trial, you’ll need to pay $11 a month to keep watching.
If you’re keen to escape the clutches of the bigger names in the music streaming game, then Deezer is definitely worth a look. It works on just about every device out there, it offers the usual features like offline playback and playlist recommendations, and it boasts a clean and slick interface, too. It has an entire free tier, not just a free trial, so you can enjoy a limited amount of ad-supported listening without paying anything. If you decide you like the tunes you can get on Deezer, you’ll need to hand over $10 a month.
Tidal is still going, some six years after its launch, and is still worth a look as an alternative to Spotify or Apple Music—not least because the trial period is a very generous 30 days (after that it’s $10 a month for standard sound quality or $20 for lossless high-fidelity sound). The main selling points of the service continue to be its focus on high-quality audio, its close relationship with (some) artists, and its curation. It even has its own version of Chromecast and Spotify Connect now in the form of Tidal Connect.
Primephonic is essentially a streaming service for people who love classical music, and besides the type of music it offers, it’s very similar to what’s already out there. There are more than 3.5 million tracks to stream, including some exclusive recordings, plus plenty of expert recommendations. Once your free 14-day trial has finished, Primephonic will set you back from $10 a month or $15 for lossless 24-bit FLAC music.