Netflix is rolling out cheaper plans for customers in emerging markets in places such as Asia. This is after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told Bloomberg that the company would test lower-priced subscription plans of its online streaming service.
Malaysian newspaper The Star reported that Netflix is trialing a mobile-only plan in Malaysia for RM17 (₱215) a month, which gives subscribers unlimited access to movies and TV shows. That costs about half of the next cheapest plan which is RM33 (₱416) per month. The mobile-only plan is limited to only one handheld device and the content will only be available on standard definition (SD), not high-definition (HD).
A Netflix representative said that the company is testing similar plans in several countries but declined to provide additional information.
The lower-priced offering is a surprising move for Netflix, which has raised or maintained its prices as it adds more content to its streaming service and produces local shows to attract more subscribers. Netflix prices vary by territory, with the cheapest US plan at $7.99 (₱422) per month.
Netflix currently has 137 million subscribers, 79 million of which are located in Asia. So a cheaper plan would make sense for the company’s business in Asia, where Netflix is facing fierce competition from homegrown rivals such as Malaysia-based iFlix and Singaporean streaming service HOOQ.
In the Philippines, Netflix’s monthly plans are currently priced at ₱370, ₱460 and ₱550. By comparison, iFlix’s cheapest plan is ₱129 per month.
Netflix first gained popularity in the US by offering a large variety of movies and TV shows for a fraction of the cost of cable TV, encouraging millions to cancel their pay TV subscriptions. Now, the leading streaming service is looking to increase its subscriber base in emerging countries such as India.
The company is developing more than 100 TV and film projects In India, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan as it aims to add more than 100 million new subscribers from Asia. Thanks to its focus on local content and the increasing availability of cheap, high-speed Internet, Netflix may well be on its way to achieving its lofty goal.