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What just happened? Netflix is letting people access a selection of its catalog for free—without ads. The caveat is that this tier is only available in Kenya, and it seems that the chances of it coming to the US are slim to none. Additionally, it’s limited to Android phones, so no enjoying the freebies on a smart TV or other devices.
Unlike other free offers used to entice potential customers into signing up, Netflix is launching a gratis plan that doesn’t require any payment information. All people need is an email address and to confirm they’re over 18. It doesn’t even have ads, something that most free-tier users have to endure.
There are a few limitations, as one would expect. Netflix is allowing free access to around a quarter of the service’s content, which is still quite a lot, given the extensive size of its library these days. The free option is only available on Android phones, and you won’t be able to download anything for offline use or cast movies and shows to a TV.
“If you’ve never watched Netflix before — and many people in Kenya haven’t — this is a great way to experience our service,” wrote Cathy Conk, director of product innovation at Netflix. “And if you like what you see, it’s easy to upgrade to one of our paid plans so you can enjoy our full catalog on your TV or laptop as well.”
Netflix says it will use the free tier to “gather information about how effective it is attracting paying subs,” suggesting it might appear in other locations around the world, though don't hold your breath for a US launch. But with more competitors entering the hyper-competitive on-demand streaming market, nothing can be ruled out.
In October last year, Netflix followed in Disney Plus’ footsteps in ending its free trials in the US.