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Netflix is considering a free version of the service – here’s who could get it

Published Jun 23rd, 2024 11:23PM EDT
Reptile on Netflix
Image: Netflix

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Netflix has experimented over the years with different pricing tiers, in addition to launching plans both with and without advertising. Meanwhile, in an effort to broaden its funnel and capture even more potential subscribers, the company is reportedly considering a subscription change that would be its most radical yet: Offering a completely free version of the service, supported by advertising.

Netflix has experimented with a free offering before, in Kenya, but ended it last year. What the company is considering now is a big step up, by potentially offering free versions of the service in much larger markets — in Asia, for example, as well as Europe. According to Bloomberg, subscribers in countries like Japan and Germany are likely candidates for such an offering, though the news service goes on to stress that what’s not under consideration at this time is offering any such free plan in Netflix’s home market of the US.

The latter makes sense, of course, given that launching a free subscription tier is meant to help sign up even more subscribers, whereas Netflix has pretty much already saturated the US and Canada.

It must be stressed: A new free Netflix plan is not currently imminent anywhere in the world. Bloomberg’s sources insist that this is only the subject of internal company deliberations at the moment. Clearly, though, the offering would help the company continue its momentum, especially in places where lower-income consumers can’t afford the service as it’s priced now.

The idea of a free plan stems from the slow growth of Netflix’s ad-based subscription tier, which at the moment pales in comparison to that of rivals like Prime Video, Hulu, and Peacock. “We’re making good progress there,” Netflix co-CEO Greg Peters said during a recent quarterly earnings presentation. “But look, we’ve got much, much more to do in terms of scaling.”

Launching such a subscription tier in major markets would also represent a what’s old is new again moment in entertainment, given that Netflix positioned its streamable content in the first place as TV without ads. If there’s one thing that’s stayed the same about this company over the last nearly 30 years, however, it’s that there’s no such thing as an established tradition that can’t be turned inside out.

Netflix now runs its own cinemas, makes its own video games, and is experimenting with live events — which is to say, a free subscription tier seems like it would fit in quite naturally with moves like those.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.