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How to watch ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ for free

The Lifetime docuseries explores the longstanding allegations of sexual abuse by the R&B singer.

Jun 24, 2020, 11:42 am*

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Audra Schroeder

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Austin Powell


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The Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly debuted on Jan. 3 2019 and has already reportedly reached a record 2.1 million viewers across the three nights it aired. If you haven’t seen it, don’t fret: Here’s everything you need to know to watch Surviving R. Kelly online for free.

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The six-part series, executive produced by filmmaker and activist dream hampton, explores the longstanding allegations of sexual abuse, imprisonment, manipulation, and predatory behavior surrounding the R&B singer, which saw renewed media attention in 2017, after a BuzzFeed article alleged Kelly was keeping multiple women in a “cult” in homes in Chicago and Atlanta, and grooming them for sexual servitude. The series goes deeper into the alleged childhood sexual abuse Kelly experienced; his relationship with underage singer Aaliyah; and speaks with multiple survivors, former employees, Kelly’s ex-wife, and the families of victims. Kelly, who faced trial for 14 child pornography charges in 2008 but was acquitted, did not participate in the documentary and has denied all accusations.

Still, Surviving R. Kelly has had a ripple effect: While Kelly’s team started a now-deleted Facebook page to attack the credibility of his victims in the wake of the series, there’s also been a renewed investigation into allegations. An attorney for Joycelyn Savage, one of Kelly’s accusers who is featured in the series, claimed the Fulton County DA is opening a criminal investigation into allegations in Georgia. Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx has also asked those with information to come forward in Chicago.

An encore marathon of Surviving R. Kelly airs on Lifetime Jan. 11. In the meantime, here’s how to stream Surviving R. Kelly.

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What is Surviving R. Kelly?

  • Launched: May 18, 2020, on DC Universe
  • Channel: Lifetime
  • Genre: Documentary/Exposè
  • Starring: Andrea Kelly, Tarana Burke, Sparkle, Kitti Jones, Wendy Williams
  • Seasons: 2
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Surviving R. Kelly Reviews

What the critics are saying

  • Aside from some dramatic musical stings and fades to black, the docuseries mostly eschews salacious framing in favor of measured, thorough documentation and extensive interviews with people from every stage of Kelly’s life. … Surviving R. Kelly isn’t an easy watch; I dreaded pressing play. But once I started, it was impossible to look away–which is as it should be. It’s been too easy for too many to avert their eyes when the truth was staring back all along.” –Caroline Framke, Variety
  • “By the end of the series, as the producers follow families desperate to loosen their daughters from Kelly’s grip, it’s impossible to come to terms with the fact that this is not an overly dramatized saga you’d normally find on Lifetime, but the very real story of a person the subjects say is a “predator.” Selena Fragassi, Chicago Sun-Times
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How to stream Surviving R. Kelly for free

All six episodes of Surviving R. Kelly are available for on-demand viewing on Lifetime’s site and the Lifetime app, which is available on Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, Android TV and iOS and Android devices. To watch, you’ll need a cable or live TV streaming subscription. Here are your best options, all of which offer at least a one-week free trial, which should be plenty of time to finish the series.

Monthly$20
7-Day Free Trial
Philo Guide
Philo Channels
Philo Devices

Philo is the least expensive streaming service, but it has some limitations. You won’t find the sports channels that dominate other packages or local channels. However, it’s the cheapest way to gain access to 60 great entertainment channels for only $20 a month. You’ll get popular channels like Animal Planet, MTV, Discovery, IFC, AMC, Lifetime, Nick Jr, and the Paramount Network, as well as deep cuts like ID and Game Show Network. You also get free cloud DVR, but shows recorded are deleted after 30 days, so binge responsibly.


Hulu Live TV Cost
7 Day TrialFREE
Live TV
+Hulu
$54.99
Live TV
+Hulu (no ads)
$60.99
7-Day Free Trial
Hulu Live TV Guide
Hulu Live TV Channels
Hulu Live TV Local Channels

Hulu Live TV is one of the most popular ways to stream live TV, perhaps because you gain access to a massive library of on-demand content including classic and current TV shows, movies, not to mention Hulu’s original programming. As far as live-streaming goes, you’ll have a ton of local, entertainment, and sports channels to flip through, including HGTV, a full suite of ESPN channels, Cartoon Network, FX, and even deep cuts like Nat Geographic and Syfy.


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Sling Orange$30
Sling Blue$30
Sling Orange & Blue$45
14-Day Free Trial
Sling TV Guide
Sling TV Channels
Sling TV Devices

For a more à la carte service, look to Sling TV. It offers two cable packages, Sling Orange and Sling Blue, each of which costs $30 per month. If you grab them both (Sling Orange + Blue) you can save $10 per month. Sling Blue offers more bang for your buck with over 40 channels, including sports necessities like FS1, NBCSN, and NFL Network. You’ll also gain access to the usual cable mainstays like Food Network, Discovery, Cartoon Network, SYFY, and FXX. Whichever package you choose, you can save $10 on your first month. Here’s the complete guide to Sling TV channels.

Sling’s now offering a 14-day free trial though July 6.


Standard$54.99
Family$69.99
Ultra$79.99
7-Day Free Trial
FuboTV Guide
FuboTV Channels
FuboTV Devices

FuboTV was built from the ground up with sports fans in mind. There are different channel packages available whether you’re looking for basketball, soccer, golf, or even outdoor sports like rock climbing. But no worries, all the great cable channels you’re after are here too, including Viceland, Bravo, TBS, and IFC.


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Core$29.99
Plus$39.99
Latino$9.99
Latino Mas$19.99
7-Day Free Trial
Vidgo Guide
Vidgo Channels
Vidgo Devices

Vidgo offers a package for under $40 a month that pulls together more than 60 English-language channels into its National English Package, including ABC, Fox, the Disney family of channels, the ESPN family of channels (including ESPN Deportes), FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes and BeIN Sports. It offers an array of entertainment favorites, including A&E, HGTV, History, Lifetime, and a full range of Nickelodeon channels, including TeenNick and NickToons.

College sports fans will love it, too: The ACCN, Big Ten Network, the Longhorn Network, and Pac-12 Network are all on the Core package, and for $10 more, the Plus package offers all six market-specific Pac-12 Networks.


Plus$65
Max$80
Ultimate$135
7-Day Free Trial
AT&T TV Now Guide
AT&T TV Now Channels
AT&T TV Now Devices

There’s a good chance that you’re already looking to AT&T for your wireless needs. The second you sign up, you’ll gain instant access to 45+ channels, including local channels and even free HBO in the Plus and Max channel suites. Plus, it comes with CloudDVR, which lets you record up to 20 hours of TV per month. One account works on two devices, but you can add more devices for only $5.


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Other ways to stream Surviving R. Kelly

The first two parts of Surviving R. Kelly can be found on Netflix.

Basic $8.99
Standard $12.99
Premium $15.99
30-Day Free Trial

The leading name in streaming is still the best movie streaming site online, though the competition is closing in fast. Netflix’s smart suggestions learn from your viewing habits, making recommendations based on what you watch and how you rate it. With vast libraries across every genre, Netflix has a little bit of something for everyone in your house, from war movies, documentaries, anime, and indie flicks to true crime and movies based on true stories. The only knock on Netflix is that it’s relatively light on classic movies.

Best Netflix Specials
Best Netflix Movies
Best Netflix Originals

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*First Published: Jan 9, 2019, 1:31 pm