Disney+ ends free trials ahead of ‘Hamilton’ launch

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Disney+ is ending its free trial program ahead of the 'Hamilton' launch
Image: Atlantic Records

Next, month, Disney+ will be adding one of today’s most highly-anticipated pieces of content to its lineup. On July 3, the full-length recording of “Hamilton” featuring the original Broadway cast will debut on the streaming service.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Disney+ just discontinued its free trial offer for users in the United States. Prior to the move, new subscribers could enjoy one week of the streaming service for free before coughing up $6.99 a month.

Playtime is Over

Free trials are a staple of the streaming industry. It’s rare to find a service that doesn’t try to entice potential subscribers with a free taste for what they will likely end up paying for. However, they are also a double-edged sword. If, for instance, a user only wants to watch one or two things, they can easily do so before the trial expires without spending a cent.

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Meanwhile, people can sign up for multiple free trials with different email addresses and credit cards. Doing so has practically become a way of life for many struggling college students who still want to binge-watch Netflix on the weekends.

Disney+ used the strategy to attract massive crowds in the first few days after its launch. Not only did that resounding success put the fledgling streaming service on the map, it made it into a giant overnight.

As of this writing, Disney+ currently boasts upwards of 50 million subscribers. The mass majority of those accounts are paying for the service at $6.99 a month or for a larger bundle with Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month. An international rollout across the U.S., U.K., India, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, France, and Switzerland has helped boost the growing figure.

Fans Must Pay Up

Although the free trial strategy has worked well for Disney+ so far, that run is seemingly coming to an end. People in the U.S. won’t find any mention of it on the streaming site. Signing up for a new account now directs users to a page where they can start paying for the service immediately.

At this time, it remains unclear when the free trial option actually disappeared. The fact that it is now missing was originally spotted by Numerama, a French pop culture site.

In response, a Disney+ spokesperson confirmed (in a gentle, roundabout way) that the streaming service is moving on from week-long freebies. They said, “We continue to test and evaluate different marketing, offers, and promotions to grow Disney+. The service was set at an attractive price-to-value proposition that we believe delivers a compelling entertainment offering on its own.”

Though the statement doesn’t mention the forthcoming arrival of “Hamilton,” the timing of the two seems suspicious. Since there is no longer a free trial option, anyone that wants to see Lin-Manuel Miranda and company starring in the iconic performance will need to subscribe for at least a month. Of course, Disney hopes that it will turn a chunk of those new sign-ups into long-term subscribers.

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