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Netflix tests 50% cheaper mobile-only subscription plan in India: Report

BusinessToday.In     March 22, 2019

Even as Netflix has been steadily increasing its subscription charges in its home market, the US, it seems to be swinging in the opposite direction in India in order to tap the booming market. After all, research shows that the number of internet users stood at 566 million as of end-December and is seeing double digit growth. The popular streaming service company is now reportedly testing a cheaper-than-usual mobile-only subscription with select users in India, already one of its biggest mobile phone markets.

Sources in the know told The Economic Times that Netflix is charging Rs 250 per month for a mobile-only plan - half the cost of the basic monthly subscription plan costing Rs 500 - in an attempt to expand its user base in the country. This move could help attract a potential set of new subscribers while retaining its existing offerings.

Netflix currently offers two other subscription plans in India - a standard plan costing Rs 650 per month where users get two concurrent screens and the premium plan for Rs 800 per month that offers four screens. The mobile-only plan being tested reportedly allows subscribers to watch standard definition (SD) content on a single mobile or tablet screen at a time.

"We will be testing different options in select countries where members can watch Netflix on their mobile device for a lower price and subscribe in shorter increments of time. Not everyone will see these options and we may never roll out these specific plans beyond the tests" a Netflix spokesperson told the daily. The development follows similar trials conducted by the company in Malaysia and other countries last November.

Netflix had announced last year that the company aims to add around 100 million subscribers from India alone, and the low-pricing experiment fits in with that. In October, after its October earnings announcement, Netflix chief product officer Greg Peters had said that the company "will experiment with other pricing models and see how that does in terms of being able to accelerate our growth and get more access". As of last November, Netflix boasted 137 million subscribers globally, and its Asia subscribers have already surpassed the 58 million US users.

However, even the trial mobile plan is pricier than rival video streaming services in the country. While Hotstar's subscription plans start at Rs 199 per month, Amazon Prime Video - part of Amazon's Prime subscription - is priced at Rs 129 a month. Meanwhile, Zee Entertainment's ZEE5 is available at Rs 99 per month and ALTBalaji, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance-backed Balaji Telefilms, at Rs 100 per three months. All of these services, moreover, offer significantly discounted annual plans.

Netflix has also been ramping up its India content. According to comparison website Finder India, Netflix's India library, which began with 826 titles, is among the most extensive in the world. It boasted 4,706 titles - 3,342 films and 1,364 TV shows - as of November. It has also commissioned around 12 original series and 12 original local language films. Among the most awaited upcoming series on the platform are Sacred Games Season 2, Delhi Crime and Baahubali: Before The Beginning. With PTI inputs

(Edited by Sushmita Agrawal)

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