Free streaming is going to be big for a while — but it won’t last

With new on demand streaming services from Apple, Disney, AT&T and Comcast all set to launch before the first half of 2020, there’s a lot of free offers going around.

  • Entering a space dominated by Netflix, these new streaming services are taking the “freemium” approach to their pricing.
  • Apple TV+ is free for one year to anyone who buys a new iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV box.
  • Verizon Wireless and FiOS customers will get a year of Disney+ free.
  • AT&T’s HBO Max will be free indefinitely to HBO subscribers who currently pay for the channel through U-verse AT&T or DirecTV. AT&T says it is also working on deals with other linear TV providers to offer HBO Max free to their subscribers. In addition, select AT&T wireless phone customers will also be eligible to receive the service for free.
  • NBC’s upcoming Peacock is reportedly going to feature a free ad supported tier as well.

However, all that free streaming comes with several catches:

  • First, some of these offers are only good for one year — and most will automatically renew if you don’t cancel.
  • For the networks, it makes sense to offer the service for free initially in order to quickly build a user base and get people hooked on content.
  • Once those free trials start running out or you want an ad free experience, consumers should expect to pay — which is likely the strategy all along.
  • In addition, one only has to look at Netflix — which has been slowing raising prices over time, points out CNBC.
  • Though none of the new streaming services have indicated plans for price increases (or perhaps decreases) — it’s always possible.
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