Gone are the days when you could fly through a few seasons of Ozark or Stranger Things on Netflix and then cancel your 30-day free trial before you got charged. As CNET reports, the streaming behemoth has put an end to free trials in the U.S.
Though plenty of streaming services reel in subscribers with free trials, a full month of complimentary access seems to be a relic of the industry’s earlier days. Amazon Prime and Hulu both still offer 30-day trials, while newer platforms like HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock start charging after only a week. Disney+ initially allowed seven days of free streaming, too, but cut the initiative back in June (a savvy move, considering that Hamilton was set to drop just a couple of weeks later).
It’s not clear why Netflix decided to stop free trials at this moment in time, but it’s worth pointing out that the company has picked up the rights to several high-profile blockbusters that aren’t getting a wide release in cinemas because of the coronavirus pandemic—movies like Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, which will be available to stream on Netflix starting October 16.
With a free trial, would-be theatergoers could essentially watch it without paying a dime. With no free trial, those people might be willing to spring for a subscription.
Netflix’s official explanation is simply that they’re pursuing other ways to broaden their subscriber base. “We're looking at different marketing promotions in the United States to attract new members and give them a great Netflix experience,” a spokesperson said, according to CNET.
One of those ways is the “watch free” page, which lets you view a selection of movies and television episodes without even signing in. As Engadget explains, you can only watch the first episode of each TV series, which could be just enough to convince you to subscribe for more.