Friday, January 22, 2021

Netflix Gets Rid of Free Version Everywhere

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Tony, over the years, Netflix has offered seven-day free trials and even occasionally a 30-day free trial. The company has said the free tryout helps persuade people to subscribe.

However, if you look at the site now, you will not find a ‘Free Trial’ button. Why? Because Netflix has quietly ended the free trial.

“Free trials are not available, but you can still sign up and take advantage of all Netflix has to offer,” Netflix states. “There are no contracts, no cancellation fees, and no commitments. You have the freedom to change your plan or cancel online at any time if you decide Netflix isn’t for you. As a Netflix member, all our plans give you access to our full catalog of TV shows and movies. Choose a plan that works for you and sign up for Netflix!

The world’s leading streaming service does not provide a reason for the change. (The TV Answer Man will ask Netflix later today for a clarification.)

However, it could be because Netflix is concerned that more consumers will use the free trial as a way to get free television for a week during a time when the streaming category is getting increasingly crowded. Netflix is now facing such deep-pocketed competitors as Disney (Disney Plus, Hulu), Comcast (Peacock), AT&T (HBO Max) and Amazon (Amazon Prime).

If you change the region on the help page, you can see it’s the same for most major countries — it says free trials aren’t available in Japan, the UK, Canada, and Australia. The only place I was able to find a mention of a free trial still being available (and keeping in mind I didn’t test every single country) was Afghanistan. That would lead one to believe the free trial has been junked all over.

Just to test this, I logged out of my existing account and attempted to create a new one. And yeah, there’s no option for a free trial of any length — as soon as you sign up, you have to choose a plan and you don’t have an option for a free trial. Netflix doesn’t even mention it during the sign-up process.

Part of me wonders if Netflix is attempting to eliminate users who take advantage of free trials with multiple email accounts. I’m sure they exist, and given how many streaming services there are now, you could probably get weeks’ worth of content out of a single burner email and every free trial in the streaming wars. Given Netflix is chockful of content and everyone knows it, it’s probably a smart time to get rid of the free trial. I’m sure there are plenty of consumers out there who won’t be happy about it — just because it’s good for Netflix‘s business doesn’t mean we won’t miss having the option.

So if you didn’t already know, Netflix plans start at $8.99 and you can cancel anytime, if that’s any compensation. We’ve reached out to Netflix for comment.

Update:
Netflix today released this statement regarding the elimination of the free trial:

“We’re looking at different marketing promotions in the U.S. to attract new members and give them a great Netflix experience.”

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