Sling TV, the live streamer owned by Dish, yesterday stopped its three-day free trial for its Blue and Orange base programming packages. The service replaced the free trial with a promotional offer of $10 off the first month, bringing the base plan to $25 in month one.
The service is the latest streamer to stop offering a free trial for most new subscribers, following Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max. With competition escalating, the streamers are increasingly concerned that consumers are using free trials to access free programming with little or no intent to subscribe.
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A Sling TV spokesman confirmed to the TV Answer Man that the free trial had ended.
“New Sling users can now sign up and receive $10 off their first month at Sling.com to keep up with popular live entertainment and sports, including college basketball, NBA, NHL, Formula 1, and more! The previous promotion you mentioned (the free trial) is no longer available,” the spokesman said.
Sling TV discontinued the free trial at its web site a year ago but later brought it back. But last year when it stopped the free trial at its web site, it kept it on select device sign-ups such as Amazon Fire TV. Now the free trial appears to be gone from all Sling TV offers.
The regular Sling $35 monthly rate is good for either Sling’s Blue or Orange basic packages. If you order both Blue and Orange, the price is $50 a month.
The Blue plan provides more than 40 channels including the three major cable news networks, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, as well as leading ‘basic cable’ networks as FS1, Bravo, The Cartoon Network, AMC, TNT, TBS, and your local Fox and NBC affiliates in select markets.
The Orange package offers more than 30 channels, but it includes ESPN, ESPN 2 and ESPN 3, which are must-haves for many sports fans. In addition, the Orange plan has CNN, Comedy Central, TBS, TNT and AMC.
The biggest difference between the two plans is that ESPN is in Orange while Blue offers more channels, Fox-owned channels and your local NBC and Fox affiliates in certain markets. (Blue also offers three simultaneous streams, meaning you can watch the Blue lineup on three different devices at the same time; Orange allows only one stream at a time.)
Sling’s $10 off promotion is more evidence that live streaming services are exploring creative ways to generate new subscribers in an increasingly competitive category. FuboTV, which normally has a $64.99 a month base price, recently revealed that it’s testing a $69.99 a month starter rate after previously testing a quarterly-only payment plan. DIRECTV Stream last month initiated a five-day free trial after forgoing free trials a year ago, and the streamer is now running a $10 off the first three months limited time offer. And YouTube TV is offering the first month of service for $14.99 to select customers.
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— Phillip Swann