If you don’t yet use streaming services but want to see what all the fuss is about (and you don’t know anyone whose account you can ‘borrow’), you can make the most of each service's free streaming trials to check out the content for a limited time.
Most streaming services have them, and it was arguably the biggest draw to some of the top services back before any of them had original content.
Now that there’s plenty of streaming content out there, these free trials are more important than ever. You can shop around and see which service has all the movies, shows and other video you want to watch.
That’s why we’ve come up with this handy list of all the streaming services that offer free trials, as well as how long these last, so you can plan your viewing calendar. In total there are four months worth of trials here. Even though not all of them can be enjoyed worldwide, there's plenty here to get watching.
The best streaming trials
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is becoming a real heavyweight in the TV show race, and 2019 saw back-to-back hits (The Boys, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel season 3) that haven’t slowed down into 2020. There are plenty of big films, too, including a few Oscar-worthy originals.
Like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video is offering a 30-day trial before you have to spend a penny if you're a new customer. However, given that the service comes included if you’re an Amazon Prime member anyway, some might inadvertently skip the ‘free’ part.
Sign up to Amazon Prime Video here.
The word ‘Netflix’ is often confused for ‘streaming service’ – that’s how big Netflix has become. Back before it had plenty of incredible movies and TV shows made in-house, it got people through the door with its famous free trial.
Well, depending on where you live (check your eligibility here), you can still get in on that free trial, netting a whole 30 days to peruse all the content it offers. It's no longer available in the UK or Australia, though, which is a shame. Still, that’s enough time to enjoy lots of what it has to offer, but you’ll only have time to dip your toes in the ocean relative to how much content there is in this Mariana Trench of streaming services.
Sign up for Netflix here.
One month trial
Hulu is only available in the US, but if that's where you're based, you can make the most of its month-long free trial to get a good sample of what’s on offer.
Lots of Hulu’s content is comedy, but it's got an amazing archive of classic TV across the board, from The X-Files to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Its originals are getting better all the time, too, with FX shows now coming to Hulu at the same time as they air. Its movie and anime selections are great, too.
Sign up for Hulu here.
The Criterion Channel
Movie fans absolutely love The Criterion Channel. Like similar streaming service Mubi.com (UK users might want to try 3 months for £1 right now, since Criterion isn't available there), it brings together classic cinema and world films for people to watch.
The Criterion Collection has an absolute treasure trove of movies, from old westerns and French New Wave films to newer productions from around the world. It's also got some films that are over a century old. If you wanted to watch something different, or explore history, this is a streaming service we couldn’t recommend enough.
Sign up to The Criterion Channel here.
Disney Plus might not be for everyone - it has, as the name suggestions, only Disney content, so there’s not exactly a diverse offering here. But if you’re a fan of what Disney puts out, this’ll certainly be a streaming service worth looking in to.
The 7-day free trial doesn’t compare to the previous entries on this list in terms of length, but it’s enough time to get suckered into the new or older TV shows or movies that the famous mouse is offering here. And given that week-long trials seem to be the norm for lots of streaming services, you’re not getting substantially less anyway.
Sign up to Disney Plus here.
Like Disney Plus, HBO Now offers you a week to test out all the content it offers. Also like Disney Plus, HBO Now has a big focus on its own content, but there’s also a collection of movies on here too for you to test out. Later this year, HBO Max will join it as a much larger offering.
Unlike HBO Go, HBO Now lets you stream from the pages of the Home Box Office catalogue without being subscribed to the cable service, so it’s easy to get up and running, and this free trial will let you dip into shows like Game of Thrones or Westworld really easily. Saying that, a week might not be long enough to finish the former fantasy show, so unless you want to get cut off towards the end, maybe stick with HBO’s shorter stuff.
Sign up to HBO Now here.