Free Streaming Trials Continue To Dwindle: Sling TV Latest To Curtail The Offer

Dish-owned vMVPD Sling TV has discontinued its long-running three-day free trial offer on its Blue and Orange base packages, although only on its website.

The quiet change in promotional strategy was uncovered by The TV Answer Man, and confirmed by the streaming service in a statement to Fierce Video: “Sling TV is always testing new offers for both subscribers and non-subscribers. While there is currently no free trial offer available through the website, there are free trials available for select on-device sign ups. Both subscribers and non-subscribers can also check out Sling Free where they can view free content anytime.”

Sling said the free trial is still available for Latino and international service.

Sling is not the first to move away from free trials, as streaming services look to boost retention rates and ARPUs amid intense competition.

Last June, just prior to its debut of “Hamilton,” Disney+ discontinued the seven-day free trial it had had in place since its November 2019 launch, saying that it continues to test offers, but believes that the service’s “price-to-value proposition” is compelling on its own.

“Hamilton,” which reportedly cost $75 million in rights, was made available at no additional cost to Disney+ subscribers — a marketing tactic also used with other movies since. Like other streamers, Disney+ allows subscribers to cancel at any time, although they do not get a rebate on their first month’s service.

Dropping the free trial ensures that consumers pay for at least one month of Disney+ or the Disney+ bundle, rather than signing up for a free trial to watch a big film, and then cancelling.

As all marketers know, once consumers are on automatically billed subscription plans, they are less likely to cancel.

Netflix dropped its free trials last October, although it, like Sling, offers sampling via a limited selection of rotating original content on the “Watch Free” area on its site.  

Like Disney+, HBO Max, which had offered a seven-day free trial since its May 2020 launch, dropped it just prior to debuting a blockbuster to lure new subscribers — “Wonder Woman,” released on Dec. 25, 2020. However, in an offer designed to optimize revenue while pumping up subscriber numbers, it launched a promotion offering the service at $11.66 per month, or 22% off the regular price of $14.99 per month, for those willing to prepay $69.99 for six months. That apparently successful offer was extended beyond its original Jan. 16, 2021 expiration date, to March 1.

All three services continue to have partnerships in which customers on some mobile/internet carriers’ plans can qualify for free access to the streaming service for periods as long as a year.

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