Netflix To Roll Out Cheaper Mobile-Only Subscription Plan In India
Netflix Inc. signage is seen on a laptop. (Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg)

Netflix To Roll Out Cheaper Mobile-Only Subscription Plan In India

Netflix Inc. on Thursday said it will roll out a cheaper mobile-only subscription plan in India by September as it looks to lure users in a country where data use on smartphones is surging.

“It will be an effective way to introduce a larger number of people in India to Netflix and to further expand our business in a market where pay-TV ARPU is under $5,” the video-streaming firm said in a statement without specifying the price of the mobile-only subscription plan.

Lower prices will improve the accessibility in the country, but it should complement the existing structure of the company, Chief Product Officer Greg Peters said in an investor call while announcing the company’s June quarter results.

Netflix currently is the most-expensive video streaming service in India, with monthly subscription plans starting at Rs 500. That compares with Hotstar’s premium plan that starts at Rs 299 and Amazon Prime, that costs Rs 129 a month.

Online streaming platforms are trying to woo users in a country that, according to a report by Ericsson, has the world’s highest data use per smartphone. The cheap data boom in the world’s second-largest internet user base means that more people have access to internet, which will drive the consumption of videos online. India’s over-the-top market, according to consultancy PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook report, is expected to grow at an annualised rate of 22 percent through 2023.

Netflix has been partnering telecom operators to offer free streaming services as part of a bundle package to expand its reach in India. Bharti Airtel offers free Netflix subscription for three months to its broadband customers paying a rental of at least Rs 1,099 and its post-paid mobile customers paying at least Rs 499. Vodafone, too, is incentivising its ‘RED’ postpaid users with a plan of Rs 999 and above with free Netflix subscription for two months to a year. The video streaming platform also partnered cable broadband provider Hathway to provide consumers access to its content through the Hathway set-top box.

Netflix is seeing “marathon growth in India and is in it for the long haul”, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said. “We’re seeing a nice steady progress.”

Also read: Netflix Says Lower Prices Key To Winning Users In India 

Netflix’s move to launch a cheaper mobile-only subscription plan in India also comes at a time the streaming service lost paying customers in the U.S. during the June quarter after it increased prices of its most popular subscription plan to $13 a month from $11.

“Our missed forecast was across all regions, but slightly more in regions with price increases,” it said in a letter to shareholders.

Netflix disclosed in the letter that its paid membership in the quarter ended June grew 2.7 million, lower than the 5-million guidance. It’s now targeting to add 7 million subscribers by September, thanks to the return of top shows Stranger Things and Orange Is the New Black. It is also banking on the five new originals it announced for India as well as a series on Baahubali and the second season of the Sacred Games.

While Netflix doesn’t give country-specific information, the streaming service said it now has more than 150 million paying subscribers on its platform, globally.

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