HBO is making a number of its original series and popular movies available for free beginning April 3rd to non-subscribers, including The Wire, Detective Pikachu, and The Sopranos.
The move is being described by Variety as a “good will gesture” by WarnerMedia; an effort from the conglomerate to provide entertainment to people stuck at home due to the novel coronavirus. More than 500 hours of content will be made available, with many of HBO’s top series among the list, including Succession, Veep, True Detective, and Six Feet Under, alongside the aforementioned shows. Popular movies like Detective Pikachu, Sucker Punch, and Happy Feet 2 are also part of the deal. Noticeably absent from the deal? Game of Thrones. That’s still only available to HBO customers.
WarnerMedia is one of many companies making some of its programming available for free to non-customers. The move also comes at a time when WarnerMedia is seeing massive surges in streaming engagement. While the television industry as a whole saw a 20 percent increase last week compared to the month prior, HBO Now saw the highest usage on its platform since summer. The percentage of people binge-viewing series has increased 65 percent, while movie watching is up 70 percent on HBO Now. People are watching old shows, new shows, documentaries, and movies.
It’s not just WarnerMedia, either. Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, told CNN that Netflix has seen a surge in streams. Third-party companies have reported seeing massive increases in usage and subscription signups for streaming platforms like Disney Plus. Amazon’s other streaming platform, Twitch, has seen a 31 percent growth in viewership. YouTube Gaming saw a 15 percent growth in viewership during a time when everyone is at home.
Streaming entertainment for free is a nice thing for companies to do, but it’s also a way to find additional paying subscribers in the long run. AT&T and WarnerMedia are just about to launch HBO Max, the company’s biggest streaming initiative to date. Showing potential customers what they can get by signing up for Max, which will run $14.99 a month, by offering a tease of free programming is a smart business move.
But hey, even if this doesn’t translate to more signups for HBO Max, HBO Now, or standard HBO, at least there are a few series and movies available for people to revisit or watch for the first time. The programming, listed in full below as reported by Variety, will be available to stream beginning Friday for a limited time. WarnerMedia didn’t say when the limited-time offer would end.
Six Feet Under
The Case Against Adnan Syed
Elvis Presley: The Searcher
I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley
Jane Fonda in Five Acts
True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality
We Are the Dream: The Kids of the MLK Oakland Oratorical Fest
Arthur 2: On the Rocks
Blinded By the Light
The Bridges of Madison County
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Empire of the Sun
Happy Feet Two
Isn’t It Romantic?
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
My Dog Skip
Nancy Drew And The Hidden Staircase
Pokémon Detective Pikachu
Red Riding Hood