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Disney Has Ended Free Trials for Disney+ and ESPN+

By Anders Bylund – Jun 22, 2020 at 12:57PM

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The House of Mouse sees no reason to attract subscribers through free trials anymore.

The Disney+ and ESPN+ video streaming services used to come with a free-trial period for new subscribers, but Disney (DIS -2.31%) ended that practice over the weekend. New subscribers are now on the hook for subscription frees from Day One, just ahead of the July 4 holiday that includes the Disney+ premiere of Broadway phenomenon Hamilton.

What changed?

Disney didn't actually announce an end to its free trials. Instead, Numerama, a French tech and culture website, noticed the change on June 19. The policy change appears to have taken place simultaneously across the local Disney+ and ESPN+ services in North America and Europe.

The Disney+ service used to come with a free week before the credit card charges started. ESPN+ ended free trials for the stand-alone sports video service a few weeks ago, but the streaming platform still had a brief trial period available as a bundle with Disney+ and Hulu. The company also cut off free trials for this bundle last week.

Hulu, which is a brand completely under Disney's control these days, continues to offer a full month of free access for new subscribers.

A Disney logo, featuring Walt Disney's signature and a walking Mickey Mouse.

Image source: Getty Images.

"We continue to test and evaluate different marketing, offers, and promotions to grow Disney+," a Disney representative said in a statement that was emailed to various media outlets. "The service was set at an attractive price-to-value proposition that we believe delivers a compelling entertainment offering on its own."

Disney+ counted 54.5 million subscribers in early May, six months after the launch. ESPN+ reported 7.9 million subscribers in the same press release, and Hulu has collected 28.8 million customers over the years. ESPN+ has been around since the spring of 2018, and Hulu started as a multi-studio collaboration in March 2008.

Anders Bylund owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $60 calls on Walt Disney and short July 2020 $115 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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