Netflix tests new low-cost subscription plan in India

Netflix is testing a new low-cost subscription tier in India as the on-demand video streaming service looks to court more subscribers in Asia’s third-largest economy.

The American giant has unveiled a “Mobile+” plan for some new and existing subscribers in India that delivers streaming in high-definition (HD) quality and supports viewing across mobile, tablet and computer screens (but not TV). The monthly tier is priced at 349 Indian rupees ($4.70).

The testing of the new tier, first spotted by AndroidPure, comes months after Netflix introduced a mobile-only plan in India that is priced at 199 Indian rupees ($2.70). The mobile-only plan, as the name suggests, restricts users from accessing the service from their computer screen or TV, and lowers the streaming quality to standard definition (480p.)

Netflix’s traditional monthly subscription offering starts at 499 Indian rupees ($6.69), which restricts streaming quality to standard definition, and goes as high as 799 Indian rupees ($10.70) that supports simultaneous viewing (up to four) and streaming in ultra-high definition (4K).

A Netflix spokesperson confirmed the new test to TechCrunch.

“We launched the Mobile Plan in India to make it easier for anyone with a smartphone to enjoy Netflix. We want to see if members like the added choice this offer brings. We’ll only roll it out long-term if they do,” the spokesperson said.

The timing of the new test is no coincidence. Earlier this month, Netflix debuted “Indian Matchmaking,” an eight-episode show that follows matchmaker Sima Taparia as she works with singles and their families in India and the U.S. to find desirable mates for marriage.

“Indian Matchmaking,” which has received mixed reviews, has still managed to generate more buzz than any other India-focused show or movie Netflix has produced to date. Arif Janmohamed, a partner at Lightspeed, said he believes the show has finally enabled Netflix to “crack the Next Billion.”

The streaming giant, which has amassed nearly 193 million subscribers, has been exploring different strategies to make inroads in developing markets as it looks to maintain its growing momentum.

Netflix, which has raised its monthly tariff in the U.S. in recent years, competes with more than three dozen on-demand streaming services in India, including its global rivals Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ and Disney+ Hotstar, all of which are aggressively priced.

In an earnings call earlier this year, a company executive said Netflix was “working really hard to try and make our offering in India more competitive, more attractive to members and members-to-be, and there’s a bunch of different product features we’ve been doing.”

Last year, Netflix said it had earmarked $420 million for producing and licensing content in India by the end of 2020. Last week, the streaming service announced 17 original shows and movies that it plans to release over the next few months.

The mobile-only plan that Netflix first launched in India last year — after testing that for months — has since been expanded to nearly a dozen markets, including Malaysia.