Netflix Is Testing a Free Streaming Plan — But It's Not for U.S. Customers
Netflix may have gotten rid of its free trials, but right now the streaming service is offering a 100% free subscription plan — if you happen to live in Kenya.
Netflix is the world's biggest streaming TV service, but the category is getting more crowded and competitive by the day. In the quest to keep capturing a larger customer base around the globe, Netflix is now trying out an entire free streaming plan in Kenya. Meanwhile, U.S.-based viewers may find better promotions on other streaming services.
Netflix's free plan provides roughly one-fourth of the content available on paid subscriptions, and for now it is being offered only for Android phone users in Kenya. Netflix has steadfastly refused to offer any of its plans with ads interrupting content, and the free plan in Kenya is also ad-free.
Netflix says that no payment information is required to sign up for the free plan, which will roll out in Kenya over the next few weeks. For now, the company has not announced any plans to try out free subscription options in other countries. But it's worth noting that streaming service costs can vary widely in different countries, and that competitors like HBO Max and Hulu have been tweaking plan prices and offering discounted subscriptions lately, while another service, NBC Universal's Peacock, has expanded rapidly with the help of a totally free streaming plan (with ads).
Amid all the jousting for customers, it wouldn't be surprising to see more changes to subscription options and cost structures, from Netflix and others, in the near future.
How much Netflix costs outside the U.S.
Netflix has three different streaming plans in the U.S., with the higher-priced plans offering perks like the ability to watch content simultaneously on multiple screens, with higher resolution viewing. The Basic plan costs $8.99 per month, while Standard is $13.99 and Premium goes for $17.99.
That's how Netflix pricing works in the U.S. at least. Elsewhere, Netflix subscriptions can cost way less. In Argentina and Turkey, for example, Standard plans start at the equivalent of less than $5 a month, according to Statista, while subscribers in Brazil, Colombia, Peru and India pay under $10 for that same plan. In Kenya, paid Netflix plans start at roughly $2.75 for a mobile-only option, up to $13 for a Premium subscription.
On the other hand, Netflix subscriptions in countries with a higher cost of living, such as Sweden and Switzerland, are generally a few dollars more expensive per month compared to the U.S.
Besides the new free plan offered in Kenya, Netflix appears to be largely avoiding subscription promotions. A year ago, it removed the longstanding 30-day free trial in the U.S. and other countries. Unlike several of its competitors, Netflix doesn't offer discounted annual plans or subscriptions with ads, which make it possible for customers to pay less in the long run.
The last time Netflix raised subscription prices was early 2019, and the company is known for hiking prices every two or three years or so. In other words, subscribers could be due for another price increase soon.
Best streaming deals from HBO and others
You may be out of luck if you're looking for streaming deals from Netflix in the U.S. But HBO Max and other services have plenty of promotions that could save you some money.
Now through Sept. 26, HBO Max ad-free subscriptions cost just $7.49 per month, or half the regular $14.99 rate. The discounted pricing will be in effect for six months, before it shifts back to full price. Alternately, many existing HBO Max customers have recently received a special offer for an annual subscription price of $109.99 per year, versus $149.99 regularly. That promotion also has a deadline of Sept. 26.
Meanwhile, the Apple TV+ streaming service is free for three months when you buy an Apple device. (It's a good deal, just not as good as a little while ago, when the purchase of an Apple device came with a full year free or Apple TV+.) And a special bundle offering Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu for a total of $13.99 per month continues to be a good value.
Other streaming services still have free trials too. Paramount+ offers a seven-day free trial, and Amazon Prime (which includes Amazon Prime Video content) has a 30-day free trial. And as already mentioned, Peacock subscriptions are free if you're willing to go with the plan that has ads.
It's not all good news for streaming customers, though. Starting in October, Hulu is raising the price of its subscription plan with ads from $5.99 to $6.99 per month, and from $59.99 to $69.99 per year. Hulu's ad-free version is getting a price bump too, from $11.99 to $12.99 monthly.
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