RIP Free Streaming Trials

Illustration for article titled RIP Free Streaming Trials
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HBO Max is ending its free trial offer weeks before Wonder Woman 1984 is set to debut on its service.


A WarnerMedia spokesperson told Gizmodo the service ended its free trial offer Thursday, the same day the company announced that all of its films slated for release in 2021 will debut both in theaters as well as on HBO Max the same day at no extra cost to subscribers. The service is, however, currently running a promotional deal for a pre-paid subscription for six months of HBO Max for $70.

“We frequently update and iterate our offers to provide flexible ways for potential subscribers to access all that HBO Max has to offer,” a WarnerMedia spokesperson told Gizmodo in a statement.

The decision follows similar moves by rival services Disney+ and Netflix. Netflix ended its freebie experience in October, while Disney+ axed its own pay-nothing promotional offer back in June. At the time, the latter was gearing up for the debut of Hamilton on its service. Despite Disney killing the free-to-stream offer, Sensor Tower data found that Hamilton’s debut on the platform in July led to a 79% increase in Disney+ mobile app downloads over the same three-day window compared to the week prior.

Netflix does not charge premiums to view its content, though it does continue to steadily bump up the cost of its monthly subscription. Disney, meanwhile, introduced its Premier Access platform for the release of the live-action remake of Mulan. Only Disney+ subscribers could opt to pay the $30 fee to stream the movie weeks in advance of it officially arriving on the service. Neither Netflix nor Disney+ have ads, but HBO Max could soon—though the specifics of how exactly ads would work on the service are still unclear.

WarnerMedia’s controversial decision to release 17 of its anticipated 2021 films both in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously offers a tremendous value to existing HBO Max subscribers who might have paid a per-head ticket price to see the films in theaters or eventually rent them through PVOD channels. Chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group Ann Sarnoff said the decision was made to give “moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren’t quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films.”

And axing a free trial in exchange for a decently priced monthly subscription and a guaranteed pipeline of big-budget films for the duration of 2021 certainly seems like a steal—right now, at least. Whether that’ll be the case six months from now, however, we’ll just have to see.




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