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Streaming Services Shudder, Sundance Now, and Acorn TV Offer Extended Free Trials

Sick of mainstream streaming services? These offers will let you try niche services for free or at a discount.

streaming services free trials

As social distancing, shuttered theaters, and self-quarantine become daily life, chances are you’ve turned to your plethora of streaming services to quell the boredom. But there’s more to life than Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+: several niche streaming services are offering free trials and or special offers, giving you plenty of offbeat and hard-to-find content choices. Among them is horror specialist Shudder, British-focused Acorn TV, nonfiction purveyor DOX, and Sundance Now.

IndieWire has compiled a list of services currently offering discounts and free trials, along with some of their most notable offerings, and will update it with any new additions. Also included are other streaming services that regularly offer free trials.


The offer: 14-day free trial, then $6.99 a month
Normal cost: Previously offered a seven-day free trial

wendy and lucy

“Wendy and Lucy”

Founded for consumers by the university-focused documentary service Docuseek, OVID offers documentaries, indies, and world film titles largely unavailable on any other streaming service.

You’ll find works from familiar directors like Claire Denis (“Towards Mathilde,” “Trouble Every Day”), Kelly Reichardt (“Wendy and Lucy”), and Éric Rohmer (“Full Moon in Paris,” “The Marquise of O”) as well as discoveries from the likes of distributors including dGenerate Films, which specializes in contemporary independent films from mainland China, and First Run Features (“56 Up,” “American Socialist: Eugene Debs”)

Oscilloscope Circle of Quarantine

The offer: $49.99 to digitally purchase 10 HD movies in Oscilloscope Laboratories’ library, with over 130 available
Normal cost: Varies, Amazon charges as much as $14.99 for some titles

"Madeline's Madeline"

“Madeline’s Madeline”

Oscilloscope Laboratories

Oscilloscope, the indie distributor co-founded by the late Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch and eventual A24 co-founder David Fenkel, is offering a cheeky promotion that happens to be a steal.

On offer is a you-pick-10 movie pack that works out to $5 per movie, with plenty of great titles to choose from. Among them is the Sundance-award winning holocaust doc “A Film Unfinished,” the microbudget end-of-times movie “Bellflower,” BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominated “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” and the acclaimed experimental drama “Madeline’s Madeline.”

UMC (Urban Movie Channel)

The offer: 30 days free with promo code “UMCFREE30”
Normal cost: $4.99 per month or $49.99 annually

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Bruce Talamon/Paramount/REX/Shutterstock (5874351a)Eddie Murphy, Richard PryorHarlem Nights - 1989Director: Eddie MurphyParamountUSAScene StillComedyLes Nuits de Harlem

“Harlem Nights”


UMC bills itself as the first streaming service dedicated to black TV and film. It offers classic sitcoms and movies, original series, shorts, documentaries, and more.

Current selections include the Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and Betsy Borns-created series “All of Us,” the Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor-starrer “Harlem Nights,” OWN’s Black Love, and original series including Craig Ross Jr.’s “Monogamy” and the upcoming docuseries “Behind Her Faith” featuring Aisha Hinds and Niecy Nash.


The offer: 30 days free with promo code “SHUTIN”
Normal cost: $5.99 per month or $56.99 annually

tigers are not afraid

“Tigers Are Not Afraid”


Shudder, from AMC Networks, focuses on horror, thriller, and supernatural movies, and TV shows. Their film catalogue includes everything from classics like John Carpenter’s “The Fog” and “Halloween” to acclaimed titles like the Cannes Grand Prix-winning “Oldboy.” Its offerings are boosted by under-the-radar exclusives like “Tigers Are Not Afraid” from director Issa López, a magical-realism take on Mexico’s drug wars that made Guillermo del Toro’s Top 10 list in 2017.

It also offers a full slate of original and exclusive series and podcasts, including “Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror” and a companion podcast, plus picks from AMC’s TV channel including “Eli Roth’s History of Horror,” which features interviews with Stephen King, Quentin Tarantino, Jordan Peele, Jason Blum, Robert Englund, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.


The offer: $14.99 for an annual subscription, half off the normal price
Normal cost: $2.99 a month or $29.99 annually

man on wire

“Man on Wire”

Magnolia Pictures

Magnolia Pictures’ DOX is focused on all-things non-fiction. Selections include the Oscar-winning “Man on Wire,” SeaWorld expose “Blackfish,” competitive endurance tickling documentary “Tickled,” and sports movies “Venus and Serena” and “Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot.”

New titles are added monthly, and in March the service will add “I’m Still Here,” the Casey Affleck-directed mockumentary following Joaquin Phoenix’s fictional retirement from acting; and “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop,” about O’Brien’s 2010 departure from “The Tonight Show.”

Acorn TV

The offer: 30 days free with promo code “FREE30”
Normal cost: $5.99 a month or $59.99 annually

Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears

Essie Davis and Nathan Page in “Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears”


Anglophiles, this one is for you: Acorn TV offers mysteries, dramas, and comedies. Many are from the UK, but other titles hail from Ireland, Canada, Australia, and more. Among them are the BBC procedural “Line of Duty,” the highest-rated drama in Britain last year; “Doc Martin,” the medical comedy starring Martin Clunes in the title role; and the Swedish crime drama “Rebecka Martinsson.”

The service also offers original series, including the Irish period mystery “Dead Still” and British mystery “Agatha Raisin.” Its first feature, “Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears,” premieres March 23.

Sundance Now

The offer: 30 days free with promo code “SUNDANCENOW30”
Normal cost: $6.99 a month or $59.99 annually

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by BBC Films/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5885591aa)Tilda SwintonWe Need To Talk About Kevin - 2011Director: Lynne RamsayBBC FilmsUK/USAScene Still

“We Need to Talk About Kevin”


Founded on the ethos of the Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Now continues to show its indie bona fides with familiar titles and hidden gems. Among the offerings are “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” “Tangerine,” the Emily Dickinson biopic “A Quiet Passion,” and the Oscar-nominated “The Act of Killing.”

It’s also home to a slate of shows including Park Chan-wook’s “The Little Drummer Girl,” the BBC miniseries starring Florence Pugh, Michael Shannon, and Alexander Skarsgård. It recently leaned into the true-crime genre with podcast “The Truth About True Crime with Amanda Knox,” which offers a look at crimes chronicled in Sundance TV, and Sundance Now documentary series “Ministry of Evil: The Twisted Cult of Tony Alamo,” “Killing for Love,” “The Preppie Murder: Death In Central Park” and “No One Saw A Thing.”

Film Movement Plus

The offer: A 30-day free trial, plus 50 percent off your first month with code “PLUS50”
Normal cost: $5.99 a month or $59.99 annually

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Immortal/Bayt Al Shawareb/Noor/Kobal/Shutterstock (5876058c) Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat Theeb - 2014 Director: Naji Abu Nowar Immortal Entertainment/Bayt Al Shawareb/Noor Pictures UAE/QATAR/JORDAN/UK Scene Still Action/Adventure


Immortal/Bayt Al Shawareb/Noor/Kobal/Shutterstock

Film Movement Plus’ focus lies in world cinema, cult and arthouse classics, documentaries and shorts, with a focus on international films and acclaimed foreign-language titles.

Among its over 300 titles are Oscar-nominated Arabic-language period drama “Theeb” from director Naji Abu Nowar and “Pelle the Conqueror,” the Danish epic that won the 1988 Foreign Language Oscar.

Other services with free trials

Here are some other streaming services offering their regular free trials.

Criterion ChannelArt films, classics, and contemporary picks from notable auteurs coupled with supplementary features. Two weeks free, then $10.99 a month or $99.99 annually.

Fandor: Independent films, classics, silent films, foreign titles, documentaries, and shorts. Two weeks free, then $5.99 a month or $49.99 annually

Filmatique: Arthouse and festival picks with a new film added weekly alongside filmmaker interviews and scholarly essays. One month free, then $4.95 a month.

IFC UnlimitedIndies, documentaries, and world cinema from IFC Films, Sundance Selects, and IFC Midnight. Seven-day free trial, then $5.99 a month.

IndieFlix: Offering social-impact features, documentaries, series and shorts. Seven days free, then $4.99 a month.

Magnolia Selects: Indies, series, and documentaries from Magnolia Pictures’ library.  Seven-day free trial, then $4.99 a month or $49.99 annually.

MUBI: A selection of 30 cult, classic, and independent films that changes daily. $1 for three months, then $10.99 a month or $95.88 a year.

Philo: Live and on-demand TV with 59 channels including IFC, Sundance TV, Vice, AMC, A&E, MTV, Food Network, Discovery, and Comedy Central. Seven-day free trial, with an option for an additional five free days with credit-card info, then $20 a month.

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