Streaming fans in India are being offered the cheapest ever subscription to Netflix, in an attempt by the company to capture more of the countries over 400 million smartphone users. The new plan, available only in India, costs 199 rupees ($2.88) a month – that’s less than a third of the cheapest US subscription.
Netflix is making this subscription available to mobile-only, restricting the use of the service to one device and permits only one concurrent stream at in the standard definition viewing (~480p). The new plan can be used on tablets as well, but certain features are restricted, like the ability to mirror the content to a TV.
Last year, Netflix began testing out new lower-priced subscription plans on the Asian market, including India. During this time a $3.6 per month plan was available and also a weekly subscription was tested, which is no longer being offered. This came as a solution for the company to try and fix its subscriber problems.
Netflix projected earlier this year that they would add 5.1 million new subscribers in the quarter ending in June this year, but the company reported just 2.7 million new users during this time. In its earnings report last week, the streaming giant announced it planned to introduce a mobile-only plan in India by Q3 this year, but it moved faster making it live sooner. Previous subscription tiers starting at $7.2 (Rs 499) going up to $11.5 (Rs 799) are still available.
India has proved to be an important market, with users prone to consuming media on their mobile devices more than any other country, as Ajay Arora, director of Product Innovation at Netflix notes. Competition between video streaming services is intense in the country with more than three-dozen local and international providers. The leader with over 300 million users is Hotstar, owned by Disney. The ad-supported service offers about 80% of its catalog at no cost to users, having an option for a yearly membership for $14.5 (Rs 999). Amazon Prime Video is priced similarly in India.
This new plan from Netflix could very well help the company grow its user base in India. Mihir Shah, vice president of research firm Media Partners Asia, told TechCrunch that “Netflix had a good early start, but growth has been slow in the last six months given the mass Indian consumer market remains value-conscious. At 200 rupees, Netflix could address a sizable target market in India. One could draw parallels from the Indian multiplex industry, which caters to 100 million consumers spending an average $4 per movie.”
Estimates say Netflix has less than 2 million subscribers in India but despite that, it was the top video streaming app in the country by revenue last year, according to research firm App Annie. Last year, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that India could contribute as many as 100 million users to the platform in the coming years.
Compared to Hotstar that built its business largely on live streaming high profile cricket matches, Netflix’s catalog isn’t as appealing to Indians. The company has produced over two-dozen titles in India to date but has very few titles that focus on sports.