The novel coronavirus pandemic has prompted more people to stay inside and pass the time by consuming entertainment through streaming services, and many companies are offering free content to bring viewers to their platforms. Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) rolled out an assortment of new free movies and television shows on Wednesday through a partnership with AT&T's (NYSE:T) HBO and Warner Bros. units.

Everyone with a basic Amazon account will now be able to stream all episodes of HBO television series, including Big Little Lies, BallersBarry, Silicon Valley, and Succession and a library of 20 Warner Bros. films that includes Detective Pikachu, The Lego Movie 2, and Crazy, Stupid Love. Outside the Amazon ecosystem, AT&T's HBO has made over 500 hours of video content available for viewing without a paid subscription.

A person pointing a remote at a television screen.

Image source: Getty Images.

Streaming platforms are playing the long game

Companies including Apple, Lionsgate, and ViacomCBS have also offered free movies and television programs to stream in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The streaming video industry was already highly competitive before the unprecedented conditions brought about by the virus, and high-quality free content offerings have become an increasingly important frontier in the streaming wars. The push will create upfront costs or lost sales for many streaming leaders, but these initiatives also present ways to attract users who could stick around long term. 

Unlike many media companies, Amazon has the benefit of the potential for free streaming to bring users to its e-commerce platform. The online retail and cloud computing giant has been impressively resilient amid the coronavirus crisis, with its share price recently hitting an all-time high.