Netflix's New Free-To-Watch Gambit Comes With A Very Dumb Catch

Illustration for article titled Netflixs New Free-To-Watch Gambit Comes With A Very Dumb Catch
Photo: Olivier Douliery (Getty Images)

Netflix has always stood out from many of its competitors by eschewing an ad-supported model since its inception, no matter how hard its investors begged the company to consider otherwise. They’re still very much no going that route, but a “free” version of the service exists now—sorta.

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First spotted by the India-based blog Onlytech, Netflix has decided to roll out ten of its most popular original series and movies to the nearly 200 countries where it’s available right now, all entirely free of charge. But before you get too excited, it’s worth noting that these freebies might not necessarily include some of the binge-worthy favorites a lot of us have come to know and love from the platform. From Netflix’s own page describing their freebies:

Movies

  • Bird Box
  • The Two Popes
  • The 2019 Adam Sandler outfit Murder Mystery (???)

Shows:

  • Stranger Things (naturally)
  • Grace and Frankie
  • Boss Baby: Back in Business
  • Our Planet
  • Love Is Blind
  • When They See Us
  • Elite

These goods come with a catch, though. While all ten titles on the Netflix page are available to stream without a Netflix account, only the first episodes of the shows on-page are up for grabs—and the overwhelming majority of the free library is shows! After episode 1 ends, Netflix goads you into joining its service to watch “everything on Netflix that everyone’s talking about.”

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All three movies, for some reason, are available in full, albeit packaged with a 30-second ad—for Netflix itself.

This limited library is further confined to desktop and Android devices. For now, iOS users, sadly, are out of luck.

The company hasn’t commented on how long these free samples are going to remain free. Nationwide lockdowns have padded out Netflix’s user numbers by an additional 16 million+ , and this ploy seems less like capitulation to the ad-supported model than an attempt to get the rest of the known universe to subscribe.

I cover the business of data for Gizmodo. Send your worst tips to swodinsky@gizmodo.com.

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DISCUSSION

I don’t really see how this is a “dumb catch”. I don’t see anything remotely indicating this is supposed to be a free tier of Netflix, it is completely clear that this is like a sample platter of their content to advertise their service.