You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘The Crown’ New Season: Netflix to Offer Opening Episode for Free in the U.K.

When Olivia Colman steps into the royal shoes of Queen Elizabeth II, viewers in the U.K. and Ireland will be able to watch for free as Netflix makes the eagerly awaited Season 3 curtain-raiser available gratis.

The streaming giant will launch the series opener on a dedicated site for a limited period starting Sunday, making it available to subscribers and non-subscribers alike. Of course, only paying customers can go on to watch the full season.

This is the first time that Netflix has allowed non-members in Europe to sample its content in this way. The U.S. streaming giant is advertising the promotion Wednesday in Stylist, a free lifestyle magazine available to commuters at public transport stations.

Launching “The Crown” opener for free in Britain is fitting, not just because of its subject matter but because the show was the first global Netflix original to be produced and filmed in Britain. Netflix has ramped up since, with more than 40 U.K. productions under its belt.

The Left Bank-produced series, which was created by Peter Morgan, is one of Netflix’s most popular shows. A full cast refresh sees Colman joined by Helena Bonham Carter, Charles Dance and Tobias Menzies for Seasons 3 and 4.

The free window will run until Dec. 15. “‘The Crown’ has become a globally renowned British success story since it first launched on Netflix three years ago,” a Netflix spokesman said. “We want to give as many people as possible a flavor of the great content Netflix is creating here in the U.K., by offering the first installment of the new series without signing up.”

There has been a spate of activity in the ad-supported video-on-demand sector recently, but Netflix is resolutely a subscription-based business. It has, however, occasionally offered free previews of big-ticket originals in some international markets. In Mexico, there was a free window for the sophomore season of “Elite,” in India for “Bard of Blood,” and in Brazil for “Brotherhood.”

More TV

  • THE BLACKLIST -- "Katarina Rostova (#3)"

    ‘The Blacklist’ Bosses on Delivering the 'Really Intense Family Drama That We've Been Promising for Seven Years'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Katarina Rostova,” the midseason seventh season finale of “The Blacklist.” Since “The Blacklist” began it has been building towards a confrontation between Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) and her biological mother, Katarina Rostova (Laila Robbins). That promised confrontation was front-and-center in the seventh season [...]

  • REEF BREAK - "Pilot" - When

    'Reef Break' Canceled After One Season at ABC

    “Reef Break” will not be back for a second season at ABC. The series debuted back in June on the broadcaster and aired 13 episodes, with the finale airing on Sept. 13. It starred Poppy Montgomery as Cat Chambers, Ray Stevenson as Jake Elliot, Desmond Chiam as Wyatt Cole, Melissa Bonne as Ana Dumont and [...]

  • Jeff Shell

    Jeff Shell: Who Is the NBCUniversal Heir Apparent?

    Analytical, decisive, loyal, fair, empowering. Those are just a few of the choice words industry insiders who have worked with incoming NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell — set to succeed current chief exec Steve Burke, as Variety exclusively reported — use to describe the longtime media exec.  On Universal’s North Hollywood lot, many insiders who work [...]

  • Reese Witherspoon Kerry Washington Little Fires

    TV News Roundup: Hulu Reveals 'Little Fires Everywhere' Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, Hulu announces a premiere date for “Little Fires Everywhere” and Variety exclusively obtains a first look at this year’s Christmas episode of “The Simpsons.” DATES “Little Fires Everywhere” will debut March 18, Hulu announced. Produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, Kerry Washington’s Simpson Street, and ABC Signature Studios, the show [...]

  • Watchmen Regina King Tim Blake Nelson

    How 'Watchmen' Pulled Off One of the Best TV Seasons of the Decade

    The first time Damon Lindelof realized that “Watchmen” — his adaptation/remix/continuation of the groundbreaking 1986 graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons — might actually be a hit was after the pilot debuted at New York Comic Con in October. In the following panel, the 46-year-old writer-producer could tell the audience was connecting with [...]

  • 9-1-1: Angela Bassett in the “Christmas

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of Dec. 2: 'The Good Doctor,' '9-1-1' Top Gainers

    “The Good Doctor” on ABC and “9-1-1” on Fox were the two biggest gainers in the Live+3 TV ratings for the week of Dec. 2. The pair benefited from the absence of NBC’s “This Is Us,” which to date has shown the largest gains across all scripted shows after three days of delayed viewing. “Good [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content