Netflix shook up the streaming world recently with a big announcement – for the first time ever, they‘re offering some of their most popular original movies and shows to watch completely free!
This new free section is available on Netflix‘s website and gives viewers access to acclaimed titles like Stranger Things, Bird Box, and Our Planet without needing a subscription. Keep reading as we dive into all the details on this free content offering and what it means for Netflix.
Netflix‘s Pricing Evolution
For years, Netflix has been focused on growing their subscription base. They introduced streaming way back in 2007 as an added bonus for DVD-plan members. In 2010, streaming was spun off as its own subscription service with unlimited access to their on-demand library.
Prices started at just $7.99 per month for standard definition streaming. But as Netflix‘s library grew with more original content, so did their membership tiers and monthly fees.
In recent years, prices have climbed up to $15.49 for premium 4K streaming in the United States. Netflix has continued to attract subscribers despite the steady price hikes over time. They now sit at around 220 million paid memberships globally.
The Rise of Free, Ad-Supported Streaming
While Netflix has been ramping up their subscription fees, the wider streaming landscape has exploded with new, free ad-supported options:
Competitors like Tubi, Pluto TV, and Peacock offer thousands of movies and shows available to stream for free. They make money by running ads during programming, similar to traditional TV.
This ad-supported model has proven extremely popular with cost-conscious consumers. Tubi announced they surpassed 51 million monthly active users in 2021. Pluto TV now has 68 million global monthly users as well.
Major media companies are investing heavily in free streaming tied to branding and ad revenue. For example, NBCUniversal‘s Peacock offers a free tier with ads along with paid subscription options.
Netflix‘s New Free Section
Faced with this growing trend of free streaming video, Netflix made a surprise move by announcing their own free section in late 2022.
Unlike the purely ad-supported platforms, Netflix‘s free offering is very limited. It acts more as a free trial of some of their top original programming.
On Netflix‘s Watch Free webpage, you can stream full episodes and movies from the following titles:
- Stranger Things
- Murder Mystery
- The Boss Baby: Back in Business
- Bird Box
- Love is Blind
- Our Planet
- When They See Us
- Grace and Frankie
- The Two Popes
The selection covers many of Netflix‘s most talked-about original shows and films from recent years. Viewers can watch the first episode of a series or a full movie without signing up.
It‘s an enticing way for Netflix to hook new viewers and potentially convert them into paid subscribers. They can sample Netflix‘s top programming and presumably come back for more.
Limitations of Netflix‘s Free Offering
Unlike other free streaming services, Netflix has imposed some key limitations on the free content:
Only available on web browsers, no mobile app access
Just 10 titles to choose from
Video quality throttled to SD 480p
Unskippable ad before playback
Only 1st episode of shows, no full seasons
The free section serves more as a limited trial rather than a full-fledged competitor to ad-supported platforms. But it‘s a way for Netflix to give users a taste of their service at no cost.
It also helps Netflix collect viewer data like email addresses and steer audiences towards signing up. After watching, users are prompted with CTAs to create a membership.
How To Access the Free Content
To start watching Netflix‘s free movies and shows, simply visit Netflix.com/watch-free in a web browser on your computer, tablet, or mobile device (excluding iOS).
You can watch on platforms like:
- Windows PC
- Android phones/tablets
- Fire tablets
Select any title and click "Watch Now" to start streaming. You‘ll get an ad first, then the video will play.
For Fire TV and Android TV users, I recommend using the Silk browser or downloading the Netflix app from their respective app stores. This allows watching the free content easily on the big screen!
The Bottom Line
Netflix‘s new free section is an interesting experiment as they face growing competition. While limitations like device support and small library exist today, this could be just the first step.
If successful in attracting viewers and subscriptions, Netflix could expand the free content selection over time. Don‘t be surprised if they eventually add a fully ad-supported plan like other major streamers have.
For now, the free section is a handy way to sample Netflix‘s original shows and movies. Take advantage of it to watch hit titles without payment. And let us know if you end up subscribing after your free viewing!