What if you didn’t have to shell out money month after month to keep watching shows and movies from around the world? There are a bunch of streaming apps that are free and totally legal.

Weeks into the Coronavirus lockdown, binge-watching shows on subscription video on demand (SVOD) services have kept us sane. According to US-based Strategy Analytics, early estimates reveal that the Coronavirus related lockdowns and social distancing rules are likely to increase SVOD subscriptions by 5 percent – 949 million paid subscriptions by the end of 2020, which suggests an increase of 47 million subscribers compared to earlier pre-pandemic numbers.

Paid SVOD platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Stan and Foxtel Now can make a significant dent in monthly budgets with each of the streaming subscriptions costing between $7-$10. The need for stretching that dollar does not mean one has to be deprived of entertainment avenues.

Here are some free streaming platforms that do not ask for your credit card details and have great LGBTQI content:

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Kanopy

Kanopy is a free on-demand streaming platform that boasts of over 30,000 documentaries, classics, and indie films. Kanopy is meant for universities and public libraries. So all that you require for watching films on Kanopy is a current Student or Library membership card. If you are not a student, find your nearest local library, register online as a member and use the membership number to access the films.

The films are neatly categorized into sections like Independent, World and Australian cinema. Another reason to get on Kanopy is its impressive LGBTQ collection with films like Blue is the Warmest Colour and the documentary Crystal City, about the crystal meth addiction in the gay community.

SBS On Demand

This is a free streaming platform from Australia’s public television network Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). Besides catching up on TV shows that were broadcast on SBS channels, it is also a place to see classics and award-winning world movies. The only grouse with SBS On Demand app is that it does not group LGBTQ content in a separate listing and search results with keywords like ‘gay’ or ‘LGBT’ are not optimal. That should not stop you from partaking what is on offer though – package of short films Queer For Short, the pansexual romance Cloudy River, the new Ken Burns series Country Music, to catch Dolly Parton’s emergence as a formidable star or Oscar winners like Cate Blanchett starring in Carol and the Chilean film A Fantastic Woman. Check the queer binge programs here.

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Tubi

This free American streaming platform launched in Australia last year. One can access loads of movies if you don’t mind watching an advertisement or two. Tubi’s catalogue of LGBTQ content may not feature award winners or A-list films but is worth a watch for offerings. Check the titles here.

ABC iview

Like SBS On Demand, ABC iview is a video on demand and catch up service run by Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Again, like SBS On Demand, the iview app does not have a separate section on queer cinema and or a good search feature – one can only search by titles and not by genre or subject. To make things easier, check here for a list of LGBTQ shows.

Plex

Plex launched its free streaming service in Australia earlier this year. Like Tubi, the films may not necessarily be on the top of your must-watch list. The queer offerings on Plex are sparse with documentaries on Beyonce, Dolly Parton and Freddie Mercury and podcasts making up most of the LGBTQ content on Plex.

 

For more inspiration and queer films, check out the feature films and shorts at Queer Screen.

P.S: If you are a new user, you can still avail of a free trial period ranging from 15 to 30 days on popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Stan and Foxtel Now. They require you to enter your credit card details, so remember to cancel the subscription before the trial period ends. YouTube and Vimeo are other great online places to check out queer short films.

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