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Funny Money: How to Watch HBO and Showtime for Free

Flickr.remotecontrol.apdkI know what you’re thinking when you read the headline. “How could there possibly be an entire article on that topic? Just do what everyone does and download episodes of Girls and Homeland on your roommate’s computer!”

Stop right there. Piracy is wrong. Not only can it get your roommate thrown in jail — he really should have invested in a laptop with a fingerprint detector — but it’s a tedious chore that too often results in low-quality files that carry more viruses than an Aerosmith roadie.

Plus, if Johnny Depp has taught us anything, it’s that pirates become skeletal versions of themselves in the moonlight. And nobody wants that.

Above all, there’s no reason for piracy, especially when there are so many amusing and ways to trick cable companies into giving away so-called premium channels for nothing.

Here are a few of my favorite methods for scamming free Game of Thrones:

Binge and purge.

Wait until your favorite show has wrapped up its season, then clear out a weekend and subscribe to the channel. You’ll have access to every episode on demand and through the channel’s app, meaning you’ll be allowed to fulfill your destiny of getting drunk on 12 straight hours of Boardwalk Empire, neglecting bathroom breaks, nutrition and hygiene. Once you’re all caught up, just call and cancel the subscription for a full refund.

Move back in with your parents, televisually. 

This is one you can use if you don’t even get cable service. Talk the ones who gave you life into subscribing to the channel you want, then snag their login and password information in order to access the channel’s app. That will net you unlimited viewing on your computer, tablet or phone, as well as allowing your old man and lady a chance to do a good deed for you and make up for selling all your childhood toys at a a garage sale. If you’re lucky enough to have grown up in a broken home, you’ll have at least two sets of parents you can use to play this game. Call one of them your Showtime parents and the other your HBO parents. If one of your parents is twice divorced and remarried, you can enlist one of your step-parents as your Starz outlet.

Whine your way to freedom.

There’s a constant among cable services — they’re great at screwing things up and terrified of losing your business. So wait for something to go wrong, like, say, an outage, DVR malfunction or whatever else, then attack your cable company’s customer service rep with vigor over the matter. Feel free to shamelessly beg for a few months free of whatever channel you desire to make things right. If you don’t get your way over the phone, take to Twitter or Facebook, where surprisingly powerful and overreaction-prone CSRs roam, looking to snuff out any signs of discontent by handing out months-long free trials of premium shows like dog treats.

Wait around for a free preview

If you’re not a TV bulimic, can’t get your parents to come through for you and are not into complaining, another option is to wait for a premium channel to peddle its wares to you. Sites such as FreePreview.tv keep you posted as to when a free promotional weekend is available. The promotions always coincide with a new premiere of some show they’re all proud of, with the goal of hooking you so badly that you’re willing to pay $20 a month to see what comes next. My advice is to stray for strange like David Duchovny on Californication, ignoring the new stuff while hitting on the easy pickings available on demand.

One last thing

When satisfying your lust for free premium TV, don’t forget that there’s always a way to get it for free, and no need to resort to donning an eye patch and parrot on your shoulder. Be creative. Be exploitative. Be like Don Cheadle in House of Lies and go and get yours. Your roommate will thank you, even if your parents and Lena Dunham may not.

About Phil Villarreal

Phil Villarreal writes Funny Money weekly for Money Under 30. He lives in Tucson and works for the Arizona Daily Star. He's also an author, blogger and Twitterer.

Comments

  1. Grabbing a friend’s or relative’s login information is exactly how we tune into some of our favorite sports teams.

  2. I don’t agree that it’s free to watch if you’re using another person’s login information – especially talking them into signing up for it….. Making a gain in your personal finances should not come at someone else’s expense.

    • Joe, does this mean you won’t let me talk you into subscribing and sharing your login with me?

    • I’m with Joe. It’s one thing to be frugal, but it’s another to mooch. If you share the expense with your parents, then it’s a win-win situation.

      • Consciously splitting a login with a friend is a smart idea, Tom. As for the parental issue, it is totally mooching, but more excusable if your parents subscribe to a channel anyway and don’t use the apps or even know they exist. I suspect that’s the situation in many cases,

  3. How about the public library? At my library, you can rent entire seasons of DVD’s of HBO shows….for free. Free and legal.

    • The library and Netflix are great way to catch up on past episodes, but if you get too caught up you’ll feel the need to watch the new ones as soon as possible. That’s the point that my advice comes in handy.

  4. Funny article. I enjoyed reading it, although it doesn’t quite apply to me. I keep a two show minimum at any given time because I’ve got as much t.v. show anxiety as I do financial anxiety, a fair amount at the least. These writers have gotten so good at pulling my heart strings!

  5. Pirvan Marian says:

    I’m intresting a gust post, if it’s accepted, please leave me a replay on my email.
    Thanks!

  6. Really??

  7. I’m assuming this article is tongue and cheek as some of these methods are no better than piracy. I’m sure cable companies would prefer to save on the expense of serving your one weekend policy and just have you pirate it (which doesn’t add anything to their expenses).

    Sharing login info also blatantly goes against most TOS agreements.

    • Jason, you’re right that the post is tongue in cheek, but the advice is still practical. I doubt a cable company would ever prefer you pirate something. Login may violate TOS agreements, but if your parents aren’t using a login I don’t see the harm in you getting some use out of it.