Free Streaming Trials Are Getting Rarer
Netflix, HBO Max, and other services have cut their free trials, but these other services still offer them
Free trials for streaming video services, which let you try out a service before committing, have seemingly been a popular way of attracting new subscribers.
But a number of companies have begun scaling back or eliminating their free trials, meaning that you'll now have to pay for at least one month of service to get access to programming.
Sling TV is the latest big service to join that trend, restricting access to its free trial in mid-March. Disney+, HBO Max, and Netflix have all moved away from free-trial promotions in recent months.
Dan Rayburn, principal analyst at the research firm Frost & Sullivan, told CR that free trials may not be as effective as they appear.
"Doing away with free trials does not impact new sign-ups," he said. "What these companies say in private conversations is that content drives new subscriptions, and if they have shows and movies users want to see, people will sign up for the service, even without a free trial."
Services That Still Have Free Trials
They're still offered by a number of streaming subscription services, including the following.
Acorn TV: Fans of British TV fare can get a seven-day free trial before paying $6 a month, or $60 a year, for the service.
Apple TV+: Apple's subscription service has a seven-day free trial before its $5-a-month subscription kicks in.
BritBox: Like Acorn TV, BritBox caters to fans of British TV. And like that service, it offers a seven-day free trial before you have to pay for $7-a-month, or $70-a-year, subscription.
Discovery+: This new service, which features content from Discovery properties such as HGTV and TLC plus several new original shows, currently has a seven-day free trial. After that, it costs either $5 month with ads or $7 a month without.
FuboTV: This sports-centric cable-replacement service has a seven-day free trial. After that, plans start at $65 a month for more than 120 channels.
Hulu: Hulu's 30-day free trial is among the longest; after that, you'll pay either $6 a month (or $60 a year) for the ad-supported service or $12 a month for the ad-free version.
Hulu + Live TV: This cable-style live TV service offers a free seven-day trial for new and eligible returning subscribers. After that, it costs $65 a month for about 85 broadcast and cable channels.
Paramount+: Right now this service, which has replaced ViacomCBS' CBS All Access, has a very generous 30-day free trial. But it's only good until March 31, so we'll have to see if it's continued or altered after that. Plans start at $6 a month.
Peacock Premium and Premium Plus: You can get the basic Peacock service free, and there's a seven-day free trial for both the $5-a-month ad-supported Premium service and the $10-a-month ad-free version. Both provide access to all of Peacock's content, including original series you don't get with the free version. Premium Plus also lets you watch certain shows on a mobile device.
Philo: This cable-replacement service offers more than 60 cable-style channels, but no local networks, for just $20 a month. It has a seven-day free trial.
YouTube TV: The cable-replacement service offers free trials, typically from seven to 14 days, provided you haven't previously been a subscriber or participated in a free trial. After the trial period, the service costs $65 a month.