There is no shortage of streaming media services offering free trials these days. The latest platform to give Americans something extra to watch while we're staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic is HBO. The premium cable and streaming network just opened up free access to nearly 500 hours of well-known content from its catalog.

What's new?

U.S. consumers can access HBO's free content via both the and apps starting Friday. Those apps are available for digital platforms such as Android, iPhone, Roku, or Xbox One, or as websites from any browser. Whatever method you use, you'll find a special content category at the top of your screen, named "Stream for Free: No Subscription Required."

The collection includes some of HBO's best-known content, like mafia drama Sopranos and the political comedy Veep. The movie lineup includes both tried-and-true classics (The Bridges of Madison County, Empire of the Sun) and fresher titles (Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, Blinded By the Light).

And HBO isn't kidding around with the "no subscription required" tag line. A couple of clicks will bring on your chosen title in high definition, and HBO won't even ask you to log in or create an account.

Each film or TV-series episode opens with a short advertising clip, nudging you toward signing up for a free trial to one of HBO's services. That's all the sales pressure you'll see here.

Photo of a young, smiling woman watching TV on a couch with a bucket of popcorn close at hand.

Social distancing doesn't have to be boring. Image source: Getty Images.

How long will this deal last?

HBO parent AT&T (NYSE:T) is still aiming to roll out a third HBO-branded streaming service, HBO Max, in May. Paving the way for that launch with a splashy presentation of free, high-quality content that reminds people about what the network has to offer could give the new service a strong early boost in subscribers. The company hasn't said how long its free content offer will stick around, but I would be surprised to see it end before HBO Max debuts.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.