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Life in the time of coronavirus: streaming TV and movies

Already tired of what's on TV because of coronavirus, COVID-19 lockdown? Here's what we're watching, and how you can get in on more of the streaming action.

PORTLAND, Maine — Editor's note: Maine is currently under a "stay at home" order at least until the end of April, but what does that mean exactly? The above video answers your questions.


In this time of the coronavirus pandemic, lots of us are getting reacquainted with our couches. Or, for some of us, getting closer to them to the point where no one can tell where one ends and the other begins.

Couch potato or not, we who work in television not surprisingly get some of our entertainment from it. In fact, a totally not even close to scientific poll of ourselves (I sent out an email) reveals that the majority of us here at NEWS CENTER Maine are watching and recommending "Tiger King" on Netflix. The show is apparently difficult to explain as most comments were along the lines of, "You just have to watch it." I'm not sure if you should be intrigued or terrified by that.

For comfort food television, several of us turn to "Parks and Recreation" and "The Office" for a visit with casts that feel more like old friends than actors. You definitely can't beat a good cringe and laugh in times like these, right? 

The biggest trend though, perhaps unsurprisingly, was that there really wasn't much of a trend. Of the nearly 40 answers to the questions of what everyone was watching, less than half of them were duplicated. What does that mean? It means you can't say there's nothing to watch on TV, because that really isn't true anymore. The wide range of answers suggests to me there is something for everyone. "Tiger King" pretty much proves that point.

So how do you find that perfect show out of the literally hundreds of them out there? 


If you haven't already, you may be on the fence about cutting the cord with cable and just having an Internet connection, especially if you can't work right now and need to save a few bucks. There are dozens of television and movie streaming channels and services... all you need is an Internet connection, the faster the better. You won't want to get rid of your cable or satellite entirely. While you can access the Internet with either, cable is usually the better choice if it's available to you. Cable is a hardwired, always-on connection to the rest of the world and your Internet speed will be much faster than satellite.

As a sidebar here in case this streaming thing is new to you: streaming just simply means transmitting media, like a TV show or movie, over the Internet instead of through traditional means like cable, satellite, or the airwaves.

You might find it costs you less to have a few streaming subscriptions and a cable Internet connection, rather than a full cable or satellite package. Shop around to see what's there. Sometimes cable and satellite companies will offer deals, but the lower price is usually only good for a year or so and includes Internet slower than my grandmother driving in the passing lane.

Just to be clear, though, you absolutely do not have to end your cable or satellite subscription to add some streaming channels to your options.


Often sports fans are the most reluctant to part ways with cable because of live sports. My friends, I'm here to tell you that you don't have to be tethered to cable or hope there isn't a thunderstorm right over your satellite dish. When all those sportsball games come rushing back when this COVID-19 thing is over, you've got lots of live streaming sports options. Many of the major networks like ESPN, NBC and FOX as well as streaming services like Hulu and fuboTV offer live streaming sports. 


Some more good news is that you don't have to take the full plunge right off the bat. You can sample some of what's out there without spending a dime. 

Many of the streaming channels offer free trials. You will still need to sign up for an account with a valid credit card for your trial, though. Trial periods run anywhere from a week to as long as a few months. Just be sure to keep track of the cutoff dates because your credit card will be charged for a subscription if you don't cancel before the trial is over. 

Here's a handy tip: sometimes when you cancel your trial the streaming service will offer you a discounted price to keep you subscribed. Some streaming services will only offer you a discounted price if you cancel after being a paid subscriber for a time. You can also sometimes find discount codes on the Internet that could save you some money on your subscription fee. Just be sure to NEVER pay anyone for the codes or give out any personal information for them. Never. EVER. I mean it.

Here are links to a few of the free trials:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Disney+
  • HBO
  • Showtime 
  • YouTube
  • Sling (this offers multiple channel access rather than individual programs or movies. Depending on your subscription, Sling's channels include CNN, FOX News, Discovery, Cartoon Network, and more than 40 others.)


Of course, you need a device of some kind with which to stream the available plethora of must-see shows like "Tiger King." If you have a smartphone, tablet, or computer, you are all set. Just download some apps and off you go. If not, you need a "smart" TV or dedicated streaming device that connects your TV to the Internet.

Most new TVs nowadays are "smart" sets, meaning they have built-in hardware and software to both connect to a cable or antenna, and connect to the Internet via a cable or WiFi. No extra equipment is needed for these kinds of televisions.

If your TV isn't a smart set, then you need to attach a separate device to access Internet streaming services like Netflix. Consumer Reports rates the Amazon Fire TV Cube (1st & 2nd generation) and the Roku Ultra as its top picks for streaming devices. Depending on your choice, a streaming device will run you as low as $30 to as high as $120 for something like the Amazon Fire TV Cube. And if you're wondering, you won't be limited to only content from Amazon Prime with the Amazon device. It and others like the Roku Ultra allow you to access most, if not all, of the available streaming channels. This is, of course, all assuming you have an Internet connection.

So there you have it. You don't need to watch endless infomercials (unless that's your thing) or force yourself to read "War and Peace." There is something for everybody to binge watch and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. 

Just remember to peel yourself off the couch occasionally and get some exercise.

Stay healthy and happy, my friends.

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: coronavirus.

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