Struggling to win subscribers, Netflix cuts prices in India

Nearly six years after Netflix launched its service in India, the global streaming giant is still struggling to find customers willing to pay for what is already its cheapest subscription globally.

The American firm on Tuesday further lowered the subscription price in India, cutting each monthly subscription tier’s cost by at least 18% and up to 60.1%. The Netflix Basic plan, which permits streaming on any device but caps the resolution at 480p, now costs ₹199 ($2.6) in India, down from ₹499 ($6.6).

Netflix Standard, which improves the video resolution to HD (720p) and permits two simultaneous views, now costs ₹499, down from ₹649 ($8.5). Netflix Premium, which offers four simultaneous views and streams in UltraHD (4K) video quality, now costs ₹649, down from ₹799 ($10.5).

This isn’t the first time Netflix has played around with prices in India. In 2019, after months of testing, Netflix unveiled a “mobile only” tier in India in a global first that was priced at ₹199. That plan is now available for ₹149 ($1.96), Netflix said today. Existing subscribers on any tier will be able to switch to the new offerings, the firm said.

India is one of the world’s largest entertainment markets. But Netflix has struggled to produce content that helps it court customers beyond a small circle of loud Twitter users in the country — despite sinking nearly $1 billion on it to date.

At the same time, Disney’s Hotstar continues to dominate the market — without much assistance from the Twitter crowd — thanks to a much larger ad-supported local content library, syndication deals with international giants such as HBO, as well as nearly all sports streaming rights. Their biggest challenger in the country remains YouTube, which per App Annie, reaches about half a billion users in the South Asian market.

At roughly $20 a year for the top offerings, Disney’s Hotstar as well as Amazon Prime Video are also much more affordable to customers in India.

Research firm Mobile Partners Asia estimates that India will have 89 million individuals who pay for subscription services by the end of this year, up from 57 million last year.

Tuesday’s price cut in India, for which Netflix offered no explanation, comes at a time when the streaming giant has raised the monthly tariff in several parts of the world.

Further reading: How Netflix Fumbled India.