Why it matters: Following Q3 earnings results in which the company revealed its new subscriber numbers aren't growing as quickly as predicted, Netflix said it is planning StreamFest, a 48-hour event starting on December 4 in India, during which anyone can watch the service without paying.
Mention of StreamFest was discovered in the latest version of Netflix's Android app code and was later confirmed following its third-quarter earnings call. Assuming it goes ahead as described, the event will let anyone stream Netflix's full library without needing to enter any payment details. Once the two days are up, it's hoped that new binge-addicts will sign up for the service.
StreamFest will be exclusive to India, but it could expand to other locations should the experiment prove successful in attracting new customers.
"We think that giving everyone in a country access to Netflix for free for a weekend could be a great way to expose a bunch of new people to the amazing stories that we have," said COO Greg Peters. "Really creating an event, and hopefully get a bunch of those folks to sign up."
Netflix added 2.2 million new subscribers in the three months leading to September 30, fewer than the 2.5 million it predicted. The company did expect growth to slow following a spike caused by the coronavirus lockdowns, and it faces increased competition from other streamers, including Disney Plus, as well as alternative services (YouTube, TikTok). But it believes the fourth quarter will add another 6 million customers, which would take its total number of worldwide subscribers to 201 million.
Netflix revealed some of its big hits that arrived in 2020: 50 million households watched Cobra Kai during its first four weeks; The Umbrella Academy brought in 43 million viewers in its first 28 days; The Old Guard reached 78 million people, and Project Power attracted 75 million. The figures are measured using Netflix's new metric, which registers a view after just two minutes of content has been watched.
Earlier this month, Netflix announced it was following in the footsteps of Disney Plus and eliminating free trials in the US. It's possible that events such as StreamFest, should it expand outside of India, will become the company's main promotional tool for attracting new subscribers.