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‘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.”

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