For a while now, major TV networks have increased the visibility of their shows by making select episodes available on YouTube.
Free television episodes on YouTube are typically a series pilot or season premiere, but sometimes they can be stand-alone episodes or lower-profile projects posted online to build some buzz. Although many of these free entertainment offerings tend to disappear from YouTube after a while, there are still plenty of quality episodes from major networks and streaming platforms to binge on without spending a dime.
Here are some of Digital Trends’ favorite freebies you can find on YouTube.
Euphoria — Pilot
HBO’s latest hit is a far cry from Game of Thrones — instead of a pulpy drama filled with zombies and dragons, Euphoria is a realistic, unrelentingly graphic examination of how modern teenagers deal with drug addiction, sex and sexual assault, gender identity, and more — but the two shows have a few things in common. They both look gorgeous, and they’re both making headlines for their shocking, controversial twists. Euphoria can be hard to watch, but Zendaya’s (Spider-Man: Far From Home) masterful performance makes it worth struggling through. With a second season already on its way, HBO has put the first episode of Euphoria on YouTube, making it easy to catch up. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into. Euphoria is a tough one.
Now Apocalypse — This Is the Beginning of the End
With its graphic sex scenes and copious amounts of skin, Now Apocalypse is a Starz show through and through, and the escapades of Avan Jogia’s perpetually horny Ulysses and his impossibly attractive friends won’t be for everyone. That said, the show’s central mystery — are a race of lizard people really going to destroy Earth, or is Ulysses just smoking too much weed? — and its carefully constructed sleaze ensure that there is nothing else on the air quite like it. If the first episode hits for you, buckle up: Now Apocalypse is a wild ride.
Insecure — Insecure AF
HBO’s Insecure centers on show creator Issa Rae and the constellation of friends, lovers, and coworkers that orbit her. Inspired by Rae’s New York Times best-selling novel The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, this HBO comedy mines absurdity from the most normal occurrences, like a simple girl’s night out.
Cobra Kai — Ace Degenerate
Cobra Kai is usually locked behind YouTube Premium’s paywall — at least, it is for now — but the video giant has made the first episode of its best-received original series available for free. Set 34 years after The Karate Kid, Cobra Kai recasts that film’s villain, Johnny Lawrence, as a down-and-out handyman who reopens his old dojo, making it a haven for misfit teens — and reigniting his old rivalry with Daniel LaRusso in the process. Both William Zabka and Ralph Macchio are excellent as older versions of the characters they originated in 1984, the new kids are great, and the ’80s and early-’90s nostalgia is a fun throwback to the days when it felt like karate could solve any problem.
Columbo — Murder by the Book
Peter Falk’s scruffy, blue-collar homicide detective is one of television’s all-time great sleuths, but you won’t currently find Columbo on any streaming services. The only way to watch the classic series online is to head over to the official Columbo YouTube channel, where you’ll find a smattering of episodes. That includes the series pilot, which was helmed by a young director named Steven Spielberg. We’re calling it: That kid’s going places.
The Prisoner — Arrival
Forget television. The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan’s trippy, paranoid sci-fi thriller, is one of the very best pieces of genre fiction ever produced in any medium. In the show, McGoohan plays Number Six, a retired secret agent who wakes up one day in The Village, a dystopian seaside resort. While Number Six tries to escape, the Village’s mysterious leaders do everything that they can to bend him to their will, setting off a battle of wills that’s just as epic as anything you’d find in an old-school James Bond flick, except way, way smarter.
Vice on HBO — State of Surveillance
There may not be a better person to explain how much our everyday technology is used to spy on us than the man who exposed the United States’ immense surveillance efforts, Edward Snowden. In this episode of Vice on HBO, Snowden walks Vice CEO Shane Smith through numerous ways that simple devices such as your cell phone can be used to record your every movement.