Netflix’s chief executive officer Reed Hastings revealed last week his company planned to test lower-priced subscription options, and it looks like those plans are already in motion. As part of its push to snag more viewers in Asia, the streaming giant is testing a mobile-only subscription tier that lets users access all of its content on one phone or tablet at a time in standard definition.
The tier is being tested in “a few countries,” one of which is Malaysia, Netflix confirmed to TechCrunch. In Malaysia, the mobile-only plan costs RM17 locally per month, or around $4 U.S. (The price for Netflix’s basic plan in Malaysia is RM33, or $7.90, per month, comparative to its $7.99 per month cost in the U.S.)
Netflix would not disclose which other countries are also testing the mobile-only tier. It’s also not apparent yet if this option would roll out to customers in the West.
As TechCrunch points out, Netflix’s basic plan is priced much higher than a lot of other options currently popular in Asian countries, including Hotstar, iFlix, HOOQ, and Viu, many of which offer free options, and all of which have plans that cost between $2 and $5 per month. For customers in Asia, a basic plan that costs around $8 per month makes Netflix “a very premium product,” Todd Yellin, Netflix’s vice president of product, told The Straits Times.
A drop in price may surprise some, as the only recent price change we’ve seen from Netflix is a one-dollar hike last year. However, considering Netflix recently announced it will produce 17 new original projects in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, India, and South Korea (adding to the 100 Asia-based originals available on the site), making a grab for more eyeballs, even if it involves lowering prices, is a smart move.
Hastings also said last week that Netflix will lean especially heavily on pushing into India, where he believes it will find its “next 100 million” customers. India has been aggressively adding internet subscribers — the reason T-Series, an Indian music label and movie studio, has been gaining more than 150,000 subscribers on YouTube per day for months, putting it on track to surpass PewDiePie as the platform’s top creator (…maybe).
Netflix currently has 137 million users, with 79 million of those outside the U.S.