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Disney Plus ends free trials for new subscribers

Disney Plus previously offered a free week of watching for any new account. No more.

Baby Yoda -- officially called The Child -- helped boost the viral popularity of The Mandalorian, Disney Plus' flagship original series at launch. 
Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Disney Plus is no longer offering free trials to new subscribers, ending a promotion that let people test out the streaming video service for a week before paying up. 

A Disney spokeswoman characterized the elimination of the free trial as part of continuing tests of different offers, promotions and other marketing to widen Disney Plus. "The service was set at an attractive price-to-value proposition that we believe delivers a compelling entertainment offering on its own," she said. Disney Plus is $7 a month and allows members to quit and resubscribe anytime. 

Free trials are a standard practice among most streaming services. Netflix, the world leader in subscription streaming, offers a 30-day free trial for new members, for example. 

Removing the Disney Plus free-trial offer had been in the works for weeks, though. While the free-trial offer itself ended sometime this week, the company had quit promoting it in its Disney Plus marketing weeks ago. Other Disney Plus free-trial offers could pop up again as the service rolls out in new markets or picks up new partnerships. 

The move comes a two weeks before Disney Plus' next marquee release, the premiere of Hamilton, the filmed version of the original Broadway cast performing the award-winning hip-hop musical. The movie was previously planned for an October 2021 theatrical release, but Disney opted to bring it straight to the streaming service more than a year sooner because of the coronavirus pandemic

Disney Plus is perhaps the most high-profile example of traditional Hollywood reorienting itself to compete in streaming against the likes of NetflixAmazon and others. Disney Plus, which launched Nov. 12 for $7 a month, was one of the first in a surge of new streaming services all launching within months of each other, a trend sometimes called the streaming wars. The launch was a unrivaled hit: Disney Plus ramped up to 54.5 million subscribers as of early May, the kind of rapid growth that one media analyst characterized as "one of the greatest product launches of all time."