TV Answer Man, I saw your article about DIRECTV Stream having a free trial. I was thinking of giving Hulu’s cable TV business a try, too. I looked at their web site and I couldn’t find a free trial anywhere. Can you help me? Where does Hulu Live have a free trial? — Ellie, Washington, D.C. 

Ellie, you’re right. DIRECTV Stream, the multi-channel, live streaming service, this month added a 5-day free trial to allow people to give it a spin before signing up.

But what about Hulu Live? Does Hulu’s live streaming service offer a similar free trial?

The answer is no. Hulu Live ended its free trial two months ago.

If you want to try out Hulu Live, it will cost you $69.99. That’s the price of the first month of service.

Free trials, which were once an industry standard in streaming, are becoming scarcer as companies try to generate more revenue to offset escalating programming costs. Hulu Live, HBO Max, Disney+ and Netflix are among the streamers that have eliminated the free trial in the last year or so.

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Why have they done this?

The companies have determined that some consumers were using the free trial offer multiple times by using different e-mail addresses, and VPNs (Virtual Private Network) to disguise their location. The honor system really doesn’t exist on the Internet, at least not for many people. Their thinking: Why subscribe when you can game the system anytime you want?

The streamers realized that they have been losing significant revenue due to free trial cheating, and password sharing. While it’s true that free trials encourage some people to actually subscribe, I’m guessing that company executives have concluded that the pendulum has swung way too far to the dark side.

In addition, the competition in the streaming industry has accelerated in the few years with the entry of financial giants such as Disney (Disney+, ESPN+), AT&T/Warner Media (HBO Max) and Comcast (Peacock). The streamers now need every subscriber it can get. They no longer have the luxury to hope that a free trial will entice someone to sign up.

Ellie, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann