Breaking down Netflix’s cheaper mobile-only plan for India
Netflix launched its cheapest ever and mobile-only subscription plan for consumers in India.
Netflix has finally addressed the biggest hurdle to its ambitious plans of adding '100 million subscribers' from India. With its new ₹199 mobile-only plan, Netflix is looking to tap into India's 300 million+ data-hungry mobile internet users. India also offers a window of opportunity to Netflix for propelling its growth after a shocking drop in US users since 2011.
Netflix's mobile-only move may be late but it comes at a time when people are heavily consuming OTT content on-the-go. According to a study by techARC-Unomer MegaInsight study, around 79% of smartphone users access over-the-top (OTT) mobile applications for entertainment in India. Hotstar which leads the OTT segment in India recently broke its own record of live match streaming with 25.3 million concurrent viewers during the India-New Zealand Cricket World Cup semi-finals.
Even global players like Google and Facebook have been optimising its services for India through lite apps, offline browsing and more. Netflix also shared insights on how its maximum subscribers come from mobile users.
"Our members in India watch more on their mobiles than members anywhere else in the world," Ajay Arora, Director, Product Innovation of Netflix said.
"In India more people sign up on the mobile than anywhere else in the world," he added.
In comparison to broadband and fixed line services, Indians consume internet mostly through mobile. This is credited to the availability of cheap data plans and low-cost mobile phones. According to a report by research firm Kantar IMRB, around 97% of internet users in India access internet through mobile phones.
No HD support, but it still makes sense
Netflix's new mobile plan supports only SD (480p) content but it still makes sense, especially in India. While there is abundance of cheap data plans, mobile internet speeds are pretty weak in India. Globally, India stands in the 74th position for mobile internet speeds according to Ookla's Speed Test. However, SD content would be beneficial for smartphone users as it would lead to less buffering time.
Netflix is not the only international player aggressively pricing its services. Spotify and YouTube Music offers its services starting at ₹119 and ₹99 per month respectively. With its new mobile plan, Netflix's base subscription plan is also now cheaper than Hotstar's which starts at ₹299 per month.
"Netflix's limited offerings were overpriced for India, and uncompetitive compared to Amazon Prime and Hotstar's ₹999 annual plans. Even though subscribers would squeeze out value by sharing accounts among friends and family, monthly subscriptions at 450 to 650 clearly missed out the much larger mobile-only audience," said tech policy and media consultant Prasanto K Roy.
"The 350-million-plus smartphone/broadband users make up an audience that is ten times the wireline-broadband/big-screen audience in India. There will still be account sharing across devices and people, but with the ₹199 SD mobile/tablet plan, Netflix expands its addressable market manifold. This was the obvious way to go and I'm surprised they took so long to do it," he added.
Although a pocket friendly subscription plan, is it enough for Netflix to break ground in India's price-sensitive market? Netflix will have to offer more plans that meet with the consumption trends of Indian consumers.
"So far, whatever success Netflix has gained is backed by operator support which cannot be sustained beyond a point. They will have to offer plans fitting Indian pockets. So, this is not only about getting new subscribers, it's also about converting existing users to subscribers who start paying incrementally," said Faisal Kawoosa, Founder & Chief Analyst, techARC.