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HBO Max kills 1-week free trial before Wonder Woman 1984 hits Dec. 25

Don't bother waiting to sign up for HBO Max to watch Wonder Woman 1984 with a free trial -- the trials don't exist anymore.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Joan E. Solsman
2 min read

HBO Max launched in May and has struggled to sign up accounts with the same success as Disney Plus. 


HBO Max is no longer offering one-week free trials to new subscribers, the latest streaming-video service to remove its try-it-out-free period even as competition for subscribers intensifies. The move comes three weeks before its mega-budget movie Wonder Woman 1984 is set to stream on the service the same day it debuts in theaters in the US. 

HBO Max confirmed Thursday that the free-trial offer has ended, noting that it's following the lead of Netflix and Disney Plus. "We frequently update and iterate our offers to provide flexible ways for potential subscribers to access all that HBO Max has to offer," a spokesman said Thursday. HBO Max is owned by telecom giant AT&T, through its WarnerMedia entertainment unit -- which also operates Warner Bros., the studio behind Wonder Woman. 

Both Netflix, the biggest subscription video service by subscribers, and Disney Plus eliminated their free-trial offers earlier this year. 

And Disney Plus made its change a couple of weeks before it released Hamilton, its highly anticipated recording of the Broadway smash. Hamilton sparked a wave of new Disney Plus members: Disney had been adding about a million subscribers a month leading up to Hamilton's release -- but it added 3 million new members in the roughly five weeks following Hamilton's release. Without a free trial, all those members had to pay for at least one month of the service, which is $7 a month. 

Wonder Woman 1984 is sure to be one of the strongest drivers of interest in HBO Max since the service's launch in late May. HBO Max, which is $15 a month, has been grappling with a bumpy rollout so far: Even though millions of people can upgrade to Max at no extra cost because they already subscribe to regular HBO, only a fraction of those people have bothered downloading and signing up for the app. In HBO Max's first five months, it's ramped up to 8.6 million accounts, both direct app subscribers and free upgrades from regular HBO. Disney Plus, by comparison, surpassed 50 million subscribers in its first five months. (Disney Plus has since grown to 73.7 million.)

HBO Max is yet another splashy new service in the so-called streaming wars, a period over the last year when media giants and tech titans have released a raft of new streaming options. These battles -- pitting rookies like Apple TV PlusHBO MaxDisney Plus and NBCUniversal's Peacock against heavyweights like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video -- have spurred huge corporations to pour billions of dollars into their ambition to shape the future of television. 

But for you, this intensifying competition also affects how many services you must use -- and often pay for -- to watch your favorite shows and movies online. 

Watch this: What's new to stream for December 2020