Netflix teases potential subscribers with a taste of popular shows for free
Netflix is giving non-subscribers just a taste of its streaming service for free, allowing viewers to sample shows like “Stranger Things” and movies like “Bird Box.”
On Monday, Netflix opened a new free section on its website with a smattering of original programs. The free Netflix does not run ads, and it only has a few titles.
Netflix had 193 million paying subscribers at the end of the second quarter. The free trial could be a powerful marketing conduit for new subscribers. Meanwhile, the streaming competition has only gotten more intense in the past year with launches of Disney+, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime. Amazon also has a free streaming service called IMDb TV, which is supported by ads.
Netflix has resisted introducing traditional advertising into its platform, but there have been shows with prominent brand placements. Like when Coca-Cola brought back New Coke into the latest season of "Stranger Things"; and "Bandersnatch," a choose-your-own adventure show, featured Kellogg's and Quaker Oats in one of its decision-making moments for viewers to pick what cereal to eat.
Amazon used IMDb TV, which is free to join, as a way to get into the ad-supported video-on-demand market. Netflix would not go the same route even with its limited free tier of service, according to Rich Greenfield, media and technology analyst at LightShed Partners.
“They will never do ads,” Greenfield says. “The only people that believe they will do ads is the ads community. Nobody wants ads in their content. It's far better to slowly raise price to fund more content than to lower price and jam in ads.”
While it is unlikely Netflix will run commercials from major brands, even when the shows are free, there will be promotions for other Netflix programming. Netflix will present 30-second trailers ahead of some of the free shows and movies, but viewers will be able to skip them.
Netflix does offer 30-day free trials that open its entire streaming catalog to people who sign-up. After 30 days, plans cost from $8.99 to $15.99 a month. The new free trial is different because it does not require signing up or logging in. The shows just stream for the viewer with one click.
So far, the amount of shows are limited. For instance, only the premiere episode is available for “Stranger Things,” the hit Netflix show that oozes 1980s nostalgia.
Netflix was not immediately available for comment. On its website, Netflix says it will swap the shows and movies, offering different titles as it sees fit.
“The selection may change from time to time, so watch now!” Netflix said.