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Streaming services offering free content and early access during pandemic

Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu offer more content
Posted at 7:11 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 19:11:34-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A number of streaming companies have released new programming and options for those who are spending more time at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, major movie studios are also releasing movies to home video earlier than expected.

Disney’s “Onward,” Universal’s “The Hunt,” “Emma” and “The Invisible Man,” Warner Bros.’s “The Way Back,” Lionsgate’s “I Still Believe” and Sony’s “Bloodshot” have all opted to go to home video early in the wake of theater closures.

The same can be said for films like "The Call of the Wild" (March 27), "Bad Boys For Life" (March 31), "Sonic the Hedgehog" (March 31) and "The Way Back" (March 24).

Here is what some of the major streaming services, which are all offering free trials, are offering.

Amazon Prime

Amazon has made a selection of family-friendly and children’s programming available for free on Prime Video. The content is available to all Amazon customers and includes Amazon Originals like “Costume Quest” and “Creative Galaxy,” as well as licensed content like “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” and “Dinosaur Train.” Currently, the majority of content is aimed at pre-school to young school-aged children.

While Amazon usually makes free TV and movies available only to Prime subscribers, consumers now only need to create a free account to watch the free content. The new free programs will be available in the Prime Video app, which is free to download on smart TVs, mobile devices, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, video game consoles and more.


Disney is making some movies available early through the streaming service Disney+. "Frozen II," the sequel to the highest-grossing animated film of all time, was released to the service three weeks ahead of schedule. The company also plans to release the animated film “Onward” on April 3.


Hulu has added a free live TV news stream to its app for customers who only subscribe to its on-demand service. The flim “The Hunt” is in theaters now but has been made available on Hulu. Prices range around $20 to stream a movie.

Apple TV

The latest take on Jane Austen's beloved comedy "Emma" has been released to this streaming service early.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures announced that a cinematic release will be available to stream at the same time as its scheduled theatrical premiere date. “Trolls World Tour” is set to drop on April 10. The film was one of the first that was already scheduled to be released to home and cinema on the same day. With the coronavirus pandemic, it will be a home-only release as theaters are still expected to be shutdown.