Streaming services to watch while staying at home to avoid the coronavirus

Teng Yong Ping
Lifestyle Editor
Photo: Getty Images

SINGAPORE — While you’re working from home, staying at home or in quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus these days, you might suddenly find yourself having a lot more free time than before. How to pass the time? Many platforms have generously provided free services such as online access to musicals, audio-books, and virtual museums. But if you’re thirsty for TV or video content with the extra time staying at home, what can you watch besides the usual suspects such as free-to-air TV, cable TV, Netflix or YouTube?

We’ve compiled a list of streaming services that offer a range of content for you during this period.

Singtel Cast

Singtel is giving all Singapore residents three months of free access to the Singtel Cast streaming app. Channels in this package include its most popular entertainment and education channels including Discovery, Asian Food Network, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. If you’re not already a Cast subscriber, get your free Cast ID to start streaming the free live TV channels.

StarHub Go

StarHub is offering a free preview of of its pay-TV channels for all in Singapore on its streaming app StarHub Go, starting from 20 March. (Update: StarHub has extended its free preview until 2 June, 12pm, in line with Singapore’s extended period of “circuit breaker” measures against the coronavirus.) All streamers as well as pay-TV subscribers will have access to 38 channels like BBC Earth, BBC Lifestyle, Hub E City and Oh!K. Shows premiering in April include Korean drama The World Of The Married, the third series of Chinese drama Wu Xin The Monster Killer, and the second season of reality dating show Meeting Mr Right.

Viu

Viu has one of the largest library of Korean TV series among streaming services, but it also features Chinese and Thai dramas. Popular reality series Running Man is available on Viu. Viu also just partnered Mediacorp to feature made-in-Singapore content across their Asian markets. Most content on Viu is free as they are funded partly by ads in-platform.

HBO Go

Besides HBO Go’s on-demand content, the app’s live TV function can stream six of WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks’ channels: HBO, HBO Signature, HBO Hits, HBO Family, Cinemax and Red by HBO. Take advantage of their free seven-day trial for new sign-ups. You might as well use this time to finally get round to bingeing HBO’s mega hit series, Game Of Thrones.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Singapore members get access to their Prime Video library of TV content as well as free international shipping and free local two-hour delivery. New users get a one-month free trial period, after which subscription will cost $2.99 per month. Shows on Amazon Prime Video include Carnival Row as well as the just-concluded Season 3 of The Good Doctor.

iQiyi

If you like Chinese drama series, iQiyi is a good app to go to. iQiyi is something like the Netflix of China – they streamed the 2018 blockbuster series Story Of Yanxi Palace. There is a mix of period dramas, modern dramas and idol drama series on the platform.

Hayu

Hayu (pronounced “hey, you”) specialises in reality TV series and releases shows the same day as in the US. Their library has 6,000 shows and includes Keeping Up With The Kardashians (season 18 just premiered on 27 March), The Real Housewives, and Top Chef. New users get a one-month free trial period.

BBC Player

Shows coming to BBC this month include mystery series Agatha Raisin and drama mini-series Gold Digger. BBC’s streaming app, BBC Player, is relaunching in April with a new design that will allow you to watch it on a bigger screen with Chromecast and Airplay.

meWATCH

Mediacorp recently rebranded their Toggle video streaming platform and re-named it meWATCH. The content remains pretty much the same, with local drama and comedy series produced by Mediacorp, some of which are also broadcast on the free-to-air TV channels, and some exclusive to the streaming service. There’s a lot of free content but if you want to access premium content like HBO shows, you have to sign up as a paying user.

GagaOOLala

GagaOOLala specialises in LGBT-themed content from around the world catered to audiences in Asia. Launched in 2016, it is the first LGBT-focused OTT platform in Asia. Its catalogue includes drama, romance, comedy, fantasy, and horror. Free content is available, but premium content requires a VIP subscription account that costs US$6.99 a month.

Viddsee

Viddsee is a platform for short film lovers, where filmmakers across Southeast Asia showcase their stories in over 4,000 short films. Viddsee curates submissions from filmmakers on a daily basis, and you can join conversations with other fellow film lovers on the platform. Genres featured span comedy, romance, drama, thriller, sci-fi, fantasy, action and documentaries.