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These TV Services (And More) Are Offering Free Access

HBO is one of a handful of streaming services that are putting some content outside of the paywall.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
HBO is one of a handful of streaming services that are putting some content outside of the paywall.

After more than a month of stay-at-home orders triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, it may feel as if you have watched every bit of new and classic TV that your subscriptions allow. But there's actually more to be found, thanks to special free packages and events organized by media companies eager to earn your loyalty. This includes plenty of educational content to inspire children.

We've pulled together a list of interesting TV events and free stuff, mostly on streaming.

Apple TV+

Free for Everyone promotion: Apple's new streaming service has made some of its lower-profile projects available for free. The list of shows includes their best original program to date, the anthology series dramatizing real-life immigrant stories Little America. There is also historical comedy Dickinson, the animated Snoopy in Space and the nature series The Elephant Queen, along with an Oprah Winfrey special on the pandemic. You will need an Apple ID to get in.


Free streaming series and movies: The premium cable channel has placed hundreds of hours of content outside its paywall on its HBO Now or HBO GO platforms, including The Sopranos, Veep, Succession, The Wire, docuseries McMillion$ and films like The Bridges of Madison County. The free stuff is available until April 30, so check it out quickly.


History at Home: The History Channel has a new, free video series featuring lessons from presenters like Laurence Fishburne, Padma Lakshmi and Billie Jean King. Topics cover the origins of hand-washing and the history of germs to the secrets of Leonardo DaVinci and how the states wound up with their current shapes. Lessons drop at 11 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.


Lionsgate Live! A Night at the Movies: Actress Jamie Lee Curtis hosts free online movie nights organized by the production studio Lionsgate and the movie ticket and streaming service Fandango. The events include real time-fan chats via YouTube Live, live tweeting during the movie and appearances by other celebrities. Each movie livestream begins Friday at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on the YouTube pages for Lionsgate and Fandango's Movieclips, with featured titles such as Dirty Dancing, La La Land and John Wick.


Mondays with Michelle Obama: The former first lady has teamed up with PBS and publishing companies to present series of videos in which she reads aloud from children's books. A new video drops each Monday at noon until May 11 on the Facebook page and YouTube channel for PBS Kids. Among the books: Miss Maple's Seeds and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

More PBS

Ken Burns in the Classroom: PBS and the award-winning documentarian Ken Burns have teamed up to provide full-length versions of his films for free on the platform until June 30. Students examining history at home can see Jazz, The Roosevelts and College Behind Bars now; in coming weeks, The Civil War, The Dust Bowl and The War.

Sling TV

Happy Hour Across America: This streaming service is now offering free access to viewers during "happy hour" from 5 p.m. to midnight. Participants can access its Sling Blue service, which features 50 live channels of TV and 50,000 on demand titles, including CNN, Fox News, AMC and A&E. The "Happy Hour" is part of its "Stay in and Sling" initiative.

Sony Pictures Entertainment

Sony Pictures Kids Zone: The studio has created a YouTube channel filled with fun videos that use clips from kid-friendly movies like Hotel Transylvania, The Smurfs and Goosebumps to spice up tutorials on creating nail art, drawing cartoon characters and making your own doggy treats.

Tribeca Film Festival

A Short Film a Day Keeps Anxiety Away: Since coronavirus put the kibosh on the in-person version of the New York-based film festival, organizers have been sending out emails with links to one adventurous, interesting short film a day. Full-length films from the festival will also be made available online, but you can see these short stories now for free on their landing page; everything from an ode to composing letters on a typewriter to science fiction about a swashbuckling starfighter who also happens to be the last medic in space.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.