Your Guide to TV, Streaming, and Internet Service During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Learn how to get low-cost and free TV, streaming, and internet service during COVID-19.

Stay connected during the COVID-19 outbreak

We’re all relying on our internet and TV service more than ever during the COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) pandemic. Between staying in touch with family, working from home, attending school online, or keeping up with every new TV show, staying connected is more vital now than ever.

We’re always here to answer your questions about TV and internet service at CableTV.com, and now we’ve compiled some common queries for these uncommon times during the new coronavirus crisis.

Can I get free internet service during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Thanks to internet service provider initiatives and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), low-income households can get steep discounts on internet service. Combine the ACP with your internet provider’s assistance program, and you may even end up with free internet.

Check out our guide to free and low-income internet for more details.

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Internet providerOfferService packageWho qualifiesHow to get it
Xfinity$9.95/mo.Internet Essentials (50 Mbps)New customers who are eligible for public assistance programsApply
Cox$9.99/mo.Connect2Compete (100 Mbps)New customers with at least one K–12 student in household qualifying for public assistance programsApply
Mediacom$9.95/mo.Connect-2-Compete (25 Mbps)New customers with at least one K–12 student in household qualifying for public assistance programsApply
Spectrum$17.99/mo.Internet Assist (30 Mbps)New customers who are eligible for public assistance programsApply
Optimum/Suddenlink$14.99/mo.Altice Connects (50 Mbps)New customers who are eligible for public assistance programsApply

Data as of publish date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

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Will my internet service be shut off if I can’t pay my bill during the COVID-19 outbreak?

From March 13, 2020 through June 30, 2020, every major US internet service provider participated in the Federal Communications Commission’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge.

The pledge stated that service won’t be terminated, late fees will be waived, and all Wi-Fi hotspots will be available to anyone. Unfortunately, the time frame for this pledge is over and it is no longer in effect.

How much internet speed do I need to stream TV?

Most  live and on-demand streaming TV services recommend a minimum of 5 Mbps (megabytes per second) of download speed to avoid buffering and fuzzy video.

That number is workable for a couple of people streaming to a single device, but not for every household—especially right now.

To keep up with multiple connected devices (and there are always multiple devices), CableTV.com recommends at least 25–100 Mbps of download speed. Fiber and cable internet deliver those speeds and higher; DSL usually maxes out around 35 Mbps, for reference.

Can I switch internet companies during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Think you need to switch internet providers in order to get service that can better handle your current online needs, but don’t want to incur an early-termination fee? Negotiate with the provider. It’s easier to work out an upgrade—even a temporary one—than break a contract.

If switching is your only option, look for a provider that offers discounts and bonuses to new subscribers (which is pretty much all of them). Saving a few bucks on sign-up can help offset an early-termination fee from your previous provider.

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What TV can I stream for free during the COVID-19 outbreak?

In addition to free trials you can get from major streaming services, there are a number of always-free streaming services. Learn more about them in our best free and cheap streaming services review.

There are also hundreds more free streaming apps available on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, smart TVs, Blu-ray players, and gaming devices. These apps feature thousands of free movies, TV shows, documentaries, sports, and other free content—you’ll just have to put up with a few ads, is all.

Free streaming COVID-19

  • Peacock
  • Pluto TV
  • Sling Free
  • Tubi
  • Xumo
  • The Roku Channel
  • Crackle
  • The CW and CW Seed
  • IMDb TV
  • Plex

How can I stream FOX News for free during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Viewers can watch FOX News for free during the coronavirus outbreak on Fox.com and the FOX app. On FOX’s website, just scroll below your local FOX affiliate stream and click play.

FYI: usually, you have to sign in with a cable login to stream FOX News.

Free live news during COVID-19

What new TV streaming services are launching during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Both NBCUniversal’s Peacock TV streaming service and HBO Max have launched during the pandemic.

HBO during COVID-19

There are three ways to get HBO during the coronavirus outbreak. We’ll break ’em down for you because the names can be a bit confusing.

HBO GO is a TV streaming service that you get when you sign up for HBO through your cable or satellite TV provider. HBO GO and HBO NOW have the same content.

HBO NOW is a standalone TV streaming service that anyone with an internet connection can sign up for. It only has original HBO shows and a rotating selection of popular movies.

HBO Max is also a standalone TV streaming service. But in addition to original HBO shows and rotating movies, it offers on-demand shows from other networks, like the NBC series Friends.

Interested in HBO GO? See what TV providers are available in your area.

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Will new TV shows and movies be released during the COVID-19 outbreak?

While COVID-19 has caused hiccups in some production schedules, you can still enjoy plenty of new TV. Check out our weekly updates on the latest TV releases you should be watching.

What are the best home workout apps to use during coronavirus?

For those of you who relied on a gym or group classes to stay active, your routine has probably been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic social-distancing efforts. Fortunately, there are plenty of home workout apps offering free or discounted classes to help you out.

Some of the best home workouts from streaming services:

  • Prime Video—Yoga, Zumba, Pilates, Fight Fit 40, Studio S Live Bootcamp, HIIT workout series, and general cardio classes are all available for free with a Prime Video subscription.
  • Sling TV—This livestreaming service offers the fitness add-on package Grokker ($7 per month), featuring on-demand fitness classes with everything from yoga to glute-focused classes to the aptly named X5 Intensity course.
  • Roku fitness channels—Roku has tons of fitness channels available, and some of them are even free. We recommend adding All Fitness TV: it’s free, has content available 24/7, and offers tons of all-body workouts.

Of course, finances might be a bit strained right now, and a little more “free” could be welcomed in your diet. No worriesthere are quite a few services, individuals, and apps with free TV workouts available right now.

Some of the best free home workout apps:

  • Fitness Blender—Cardio, strength, core, upper body, and lower body workouts are all included on this website. Many classes are free, but be warned that any marked with an “FB Plus” logo requires a subscription. Still, the classes available to you should be more than enough to get you through quarantine.
  • Dailyburn—This daily workout app is currently offering a 60-day free trial of its premium service to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • IGTV—You might not have thought of this social app as a fitness coach replacement, but a lot of fitness instagram influencers have started publishing daily workouts for everyone stuck at home. We particularly recommend Kayla Itsines’ videos for abs, Qiqi H. for weightlifters and those who want to embrace their thighs, and School of SOS for dancers who want daily workouts vids.

Will my cable TV be shut off during the COVID-19 outbreak?

We don’t think your cable TV service will be shut off during the COVID-19 outbreak—even if you can’t pay your bill because of unemployment. Most major cable providers signed the FCC pledge to continue service during the pandemic, but the pledge expired in June.

Cable companies committed to Keep Americans Connected

  • AT&T
  • Cox
  • Frontier
  • Optimum
  • Spectrum
  • Suddenlink
  • Xfinity (Comcast)

Can I get free TV during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Yes, you can get free TV during the new coronavirus lockdown. There are plenty of free TV services available to stream online (see above), or you can use an over-the-air HD antenna to get free local channels.

Can I cancel my TV service during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Of course, you can cancel your TV service during COVID-19. Just be careful of early termination fees (ETFs) if you subscribe to a cable TV or satellite TV service. We’re not sure if they’ll apply during the pandemic, so you’ll want to double-check.

Cable and satellite TV providers with ETFs

  • Xfinity
  • DIRECTV
  • DISH Network

Cable TV providers without ETFs

  • Cox
  • Optimum
  • Spectrum
  • Suddenlink

Sometimes it’s better to downgrade your TV plan instead of paying an expensive cancellation fee. If you’re willing to settle for a TV plan that’s a little cheaper, you can switch to a no-contract TV provider that buys out contracts and downgrade your plan without incurring fees.

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