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Netflix may have canceled free trials, but they're planning something new in India. Here's what we know about Netflix's next subscriber tactic.

Is Netflix giving all of India free accounts? Their new free trial system

Considering that the pandemic has us all housebound and that we’ve chosen to use this time to head over to movies & shows, it comes as a surprise that the content streaming giant Netflix actually registered slow growth in its third quarter. Most of us have taken to a steady diet of binge-watching either shows that we’d been putting off since long, or revisiting old favorites.

This period has given a new life to shows like New Girl, while we’re knee-deep into theories about The Haunting of Bly Manor. The underlying fact is simply: everyone’s hooked to their screens. And yet, this consumption doesn’t seem to suffice the deep, deep pockets of Netflix. 

Drastic times, drastic actions

Netflix subscriptions used to come with a 30-day trial period when you could stream the shows without having to pay. Now that Netflix has carved a space for itself, it makes sense that it scrapes off that marketing gimmick. Who wouldn’t want Netflix, considering the storehouse of quality content it has to offer? 

Looks like Netflix thought so too and discontinued the 30-day free trial for its US customers. The company’s website confirmed, “Free trials are not available, but you can still sign up and take advantage of all Netflix has to offer. 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.”

Pretty standard as a marketing practice, discontinuation of discounts or free trials usually happens once the product has gained enough momentum, which Netflix, at least on the surface, seemed to have nailed, despite competition from the likes of Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, among others. However, when Netflix crunched the numbers for the latest quarter, things seemed rather slow.

Lockdown magic fades away

When the lockdown & quarantine made it clear that our modes of entertainment would be limited – and after we’d exhausted ourselves with Dalgona coffees, banana bread, online gaming – we all took to the screen for a treat in the form of our favorite shows & movies. That sent the growth curve at Netflix on a sharp rise. The folks at Netflix & trade analysts predicted whopping numbers for the coming months.

The spike seems to be fading away now, as we enter the eighth month of pandemic-driven social distancing. Netflix added just 2.2 million new subscribers last quarter as against the 3.32 million predicted by analysts. The company hadn’t made as drastic a prediction as the analysts – Netflix’ own guidance was 2.5 million – but the numbers still fell short. 

Netflix already had much of its content ready for the screen or in post-production stages when the pandemic hit, so it was prepared for the situation. It even gave it a competitive advantage, but that won’t last forever. To address this, Netflix has come up with a new marketing strategy, with a focus on specific regions.

Are you still watching?

In a letter to the shareholders, the company wrote, “The state of the pandemic and its impact continues to make projections very uncertain, but as the world hopefully recovers in 2021, we would expect that our growth will revert back to levels similar to pre-COVID

They clarified why the 2020 spike, followed by a plateau, shouldn’t be a cause for any alarm, “We expect paid net adds are likely to be down year over year in the first half of 2021 as compared to the big spike in paid net adds we experienced in the first half of 2020.”

Enter: A new trial gimmick

The latest tactic Netflix is adopting to keep its numbers up is an “event” that allows non-subscribers to stream Netflix content. The company has announced that it will start this promotion with India. Does this mean everyone in India gets a free account? The company’s plan is a little less drastic but interesting: over the course of the weekend of December 4th, Netflix will reportedly run a StreamFest.

As a part of the StreamFest, non-subscribers will also be able to access the content library and enjoy the Netflix experience. The company’s goal is to secure more subscribers through this event.

Netflix might hop around countries or regional markets with its StreamFest, so we’re all game.

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