Subscription Companies Offer Free Services During Coronavirus Pandemic

To promote productivity, physical and mental health, and connectivity

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, more subscription companies are hopping on the bandwagon to make working from home and social distancing a bit easier. From communication tools and free educational subscriptions to entertainment and sports, subscription services are hoping to ease the burden of isolation. Here are a few of the offerings we’ve run across, some we have covered before and some which are new to the party.

Communication

80 Broadband and Internet Providers Pledge to Keep Americans Connected

On March 13, Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai announced that more than 80 broadband and telephone service providers and trade associations took a pledge to “Keep Americans Connected” during the coronavirus pandemic. The FCC chair and staff called the providers and associations to ask them to commit to the following for the next 60 days:

  1. Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers due to inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic,
  2. Waive any late fees that residential and small business customers incur because of a change in economic circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic, and
  3. Open up WiFi hotspots to any American who needs them

Among the providers who took the “Keep Americans Connected” pledge are AT&T, T-Mobile, Comcast, Cox, Verizon, CenturyLink, Charter, Sprint and others. See the Education section below for education-related offerings from the country’s top communications providers.

Education

Some of the nation’s top internet and wireless providers are taking it one step further to promote social distancing and to provide learning opportunities for children who can no longer attend school. Charter Communications announced it would offer free access to Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi for 60 days for new K-12 and college student households who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription. Installation fees will be waived.

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Charter also said it will partner with school districts to ensure they are aware of the program and how they can better support students with remote learning. Spectrum, which does not have data caps, will also make its Wi-Fi hotspots available for public use. ABC News reported that T-Mobile would provide unlimited smartphone data to current subscribers and increase the data allowance to schools and students using their digital learning programs.

Classrooms may empty but free educational resources are available online.

Xfinity notified its customers that it would offer new educational content for all grade levels, in partnership with Common Sense Media. To access that content, Xfinity customers can say “education” into their X1 or Flex Voice Remote. The company is also monitoring network reliability, recognizing their may be spikes in broadband usage.

Owned by Microsoft, LinkedIn is offering free learning opportunities to help adults connect and collaborate, while easing the stress of working at home. LinkedIn’s free courses include working remotely, time management, productivity tips, how to use Microsoft Teams for collaboration and virtual meetings, and how to project an executive presence on virtually. Visit LinkedIn Learning online for additional course titles and access.

With so many schools and daycares closing, parents want to keep their children entertained while providing learning opportunities. Ranger Rick is offering free digital subscriptions through the end of June. Sign up online at RangerRick.org.

From last week’s Five on Friday, here are a few other subscription services offering free learning materials for children. Many operate on the freemium model with some offerings available for free and premium features for a monthly or annual subscription fee. See more subscriptions for kids at GoodHousekeeping.com.

Entertainment

Apple Music is offering music lovers a free three-month subscription to its music library of 60 million songs. There is no obligation and no long-term commitment. After the 90-day free trial, Apple Music users can subscribe for $4.99 a month for students, $9.99 a month for individuals, or $14.99 a month for families. Music is available to listen to online or off, and it can be accessed across multiple devices, including iOS and Android devices. Users can download up to 100,000 songs.

Last week Scribd CEO Trip Adler announced that the company would make its service available for free to anyone for 30 days, including access to fiction and nonfiction ebooks, audiobooks, magazine articles and more. No credit card or commitment is required.

Sling TV launched “Stay in and SLING,” free access to some of Sling TV’s content including news, TV shows and movies for a limited time. Available online at Sling.com, and on Roku, Android and Amazon devices, content includes ABC News Live, a 24/7 news channel with continuing coverage of COVID-19. Users who want to upgrade to premium content can do so at a discount.

Streaming service Starz announced that it will offer fee access to certain titles, including Vida and Black Sails, through the app without a subscription through the end of March, reports ComingSoon.net. Starz is also offering a special promo to sign up for a special offer for three months at $4.99 a month.

Global Citizen has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to bring a series of free livestreamed concerts to viewers. The series, called “Together, At Home,” kicked off last week with Coldplay’s Chris Martin who played a virtual solo concert on Instagram, taking requests from the audience. Since then, John Legend, OneRepublic, Common, Camila Cabello and other artists have participated.

Virtual Museum Tours

Good Housekeeping also brings a great list of virtual museum tours you can take from the comfort of your living room. This is a fun way to travel, learn and be entertained all at once – for free. You can’t visit any of these museums in person right now, but you don’t need a membership to take the virtual tour.

For more virtual tours, visit GoodHousekeeping.com.

Sports

The NFL will offer free access to NFL Game Pass to U.S. users now through May 31, reports Digital Trends. Fans outside the U.S. and Canada can access the NFL’s premium product through July 31. Content includes replays of NFL games from 2009 through 2019 as well as original NFL programming and access to the NFL films archives. Interested fans can visit NFL.com/GamePass for more information, or sign up through the NFL Game Pass app.

The NBA is offering free access too, but they are doing it differently. They are calling their NBA League Pass offer a “free preview.” Through April 22, basketball fans can watch full length and condensed replays of all games from the 2019-20 as well as archives of classic games and NBA content. Interested fans can redeem the offer by signing into their accounts on NBA.com or through the NBA app.

The NHL is following suit. While its season is on hold, fans are invited to watch any 2019-20 hockey game for free by logging into their NHL.com account or going to NHL.com/tv to stream on their favorite device.

To encourage physical and mental fitness as well as social distancing, Nike has launched a new campaign, “Play Inside, Play for the World.” As part of the campaign, Nike is offering its NTC Premium subscription at no charge. The service offers studio-style streaming workouts, progressive training programs, coaching, motivation, nutrition tips and more.

Miscellaneous

Some food delivery services like Uber Eats and restaurants like Panera are waiving delivery fees. The fee waiver typically applies to orders over $15. Food delivery service options, restaurants and fees will vary by area, so please check your local area for details.

News

During the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak, news publishers in the U.S. are stepping up to keep readers informed. Columbia Journalism Review reports that news outlets including The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Atlantic, the Seattle Times, the Napa Valley Register and the McClatchy papers are bringing down their paywalls, at least for coronavirus-related stories, to nonsubscribers. Readers may still have to create accounts to access the content, but they won’t have to pay to read Covid-19 stories and access important information.

Fox is also offering free, unlimited news access during the COVID-19 crisis, no subscription or authentication required. According to Media Post, Fox will work with its paid TV partners to ensure that viewers can access their news programming.