Netflix has carried out similar tests with other shows in India and South America, and the hope is that by giving British viewers a taste of its big-ticket Left Bank Pictures drama, it will encourage them to sign-up to Netflix for the full series.
The free episode will launch at the same time as the rest of the series on November 17, and will be made available on a dedicated site (netflix.com/thecrown) up until December 15.
It coincides with The Crown undergoing a huge transformation nearly two years after the last series premiered on Netflix. Gone are Claire Foy and Matt Smith as the Queen and Prince Philip, replaced by Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies. Other new cast members include Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret and Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher.
Netflix’s decision to debut The Crown for free also comes as the streaming wars intensify, with the likes of Apple, BritBox, and soon Disney, competing to open the wallets of British audiences. Netflix’s experiments in other countries included premiering Bard of Blood for free in India and Elite in Mexico and Colombia.
A Netflix spokesman said: “The Crown has become a globally-renowned British success story since it first launched on Netflix three years ago. We want to give as many people as possible a flavour of the great content Netflix is creating here in the UK, by offering the first instalment of the new series without signing up.”