Netflix is reportedly offering first episodes of some original shows and select full-length movies for free to nonsubscribers.
Netflix saw significant Q2 2020 user growth because of stay-at-home orders and is likely trying to sustain that momentum.
The company added 10.1 million worldwide subscribers in Q2, a 27.3% year-over-year (YoY) increase. Per the latest estimates by TechCruch, published in February, Netflix will have 158.9 million US viewers by the end of the year, up from 154.4 million last year.
The company said in its Q2 earnings call that Q3 subscriber additions will be lower than those in Q2, so this move is likely an attempt to pad those numbers.
It should be noted that these free episodes are available to everyone only on web browsers. On mobile, Android users will have access to the content, but iOS users will not, per Netflix.
Netflix has also cut back significantly on marketing spend, so this serves as a lower-cost marketing ploy as it avoids larger ad campaigns.
The company outlined a leaner marketing strategy in its Q2 2020 earnings call, with co-CEO Ted Sarandos saying the company would be working on a “more efficient, more impactful and more global way to talk to [its] members,” which is not “always through the most traditional channels.”
In Q2, the company had already cut marketing spend (as a proportion of revenues) by 28% YoY, per AdExchanger, and moving into H2, there was no indication that that would be reversed. Making some of Netflix’s biggest titles available for free should play well into the company’s plans.