This week on TechHive: How to get Paramount+ for free

  Jared Newman  |  March 4, 2022  | Read online

If you're a longtime reader of this newsletter, you know how insistent I am that you not pay for Paramount+ (the service formerly known as CBS All Access).

Practically every month, Paramount (the media company formerly known as ViacomCBS) doles out coupons for a free month of service, valid for both new and returning subscribers. As long as you don’t already have an active subscription, you can redeem these coupons repeatedly and never pay for the service. The codes even work with Paramount+ Premium, which has limited ads and provides a live local CBS stream.

When Paramount announced a new promotion this week, I briefly thought the company was changing tactics. To celebrate the first birthday of Paramount+'s rebranding, it's offering three months of either the Essential plan for $1 per month (down from $5 per month) or the Premium plan for $2 per month (down from $10 per month).

But while Paramount is loudly promoting this birthday sale with press outreach and an ad campaign, the company has also quietly continued its free offerings in parallel. (The current free code is BETWEEN.) Unless you’re a Paramount+ superfan, you should probably skip the birthday offer and stick with the freebies instead. For more details and instructions, read the full column on TechHive.

Weekly rewind

Crunchyroll and Funimation combine: Starting this week, Sony is merging its Funimation anime service with Crunchyroll, a former competitor that it acquired for $1.2 billion from WarnerMedia last summer. The move effectively buries Funimation as a standalone service—though it remains available for now—as all of its current and future content will move over to Crunchyroll.

Pricing for Crunchyroll "remains unchanged," Sony says, and at least in the short term, anime fans may save money by not needing to pay for two services. (Funimation starts at $6 per month, while Crunchyroll starts at $8 per month.) But without any notable competition, it won't be surprising if the price trickles upward over time.

Roku's expanding Save List: As spotted by The Streamable, Roku has added Save List support to the free Roku Channel app on its streaming devices. That means you can click on any program and select "Add to Save List," and it'll appear in a "Save List" row in the app's the main menu.

On its own, this is not a big deal. But note that in Roku's mobile app, the Save List isn't just for content from the Roku Channel. You can also add movies and shows from other apps such as Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime, giving you one place to find everything you've been meaning to watch.

I'm hoping the new Save List inside the Roku Channel is a baby step toward offering a broader watchlist for all streaming sources on Roku players, similar to what's available on Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TV devices. That's one way Roku could successfully refresh its interface without ruining it.

Plex's updated channel guide: Plex is making some big changes to its live channel guide, both for its free streaming channels and its over-the-air DVR service. Instead of having separate grid guides for each source, Plex now combines them into one menu, with tabs at the top for switching between sources and sorting through channels by genre. You can also click on each channel logo to add it to your favorites list, which appears as a "Favorites" tab at the top.

I imagine some over-the-air DVR users will chafe at the cross-pollination, especially since you can't exclude Plex's streaming channels from the new genre menus. But overall, Plex has done a good job of keeping the streaming channels out of your way if you only want to access your antenna channels, and I like being able to add both sources into a unified Favorites list. You can check out Plex's free channels on any streaming device, while its over-the-air DVR service requires a media server device, compatible TV tuner, and Plex Pass subscription.

More catch-up

Save more money

If you missed it at Best Buy last week, Roku's Streaming Stick 4K+ is now on sale for $49 from Amazon, saving you $20 off the regular price. The "+" means you're getting Roku's excellent Streaming Stick 4K dongle bundled with the Voice Remote Pro, which includes two programmable buttons, a headphone jack for private listening, a remote-finder function (which you can activate through Roku's mobile app), and hands-free "Hey Roku" voice commands.

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K alone normally costs $50, so this deal effectively gets you the upgraded remote for free. (Alternatively, you can save $10 on the Roku Streaming Stick 4K without the fancier remote.)

Also, Starz is currently offering six months of service for $20, down from the usual $44. While we occasionally $1 per month deals on Starz through Amazon Prime, those tend to be one a one- to three-month basis, so this deal is worth considering if you want to keep the service for longer. Just remember to cancel immediately after sign-up to avoid getting hit with the regular price after six months.

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