×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Netflix Confirms Tests of Cheaper, Mobile-Only Streaming Plans in Multiple Markets

Netflix has launched trials of a lower-cost streaming plan, priced at around $4 per month — which will let you watch only on mobile devices.

The mobile-only tests are running in select countries, including Malaysia, Netflix said, and may not become widely available. The trials are aimed at appealing to smartphone-centric users in Asia and priced to be competitive with other streaming-video options.

The first confirmed test is in Malaysia, as first reported by The Star newspaper. In that country, the mobile-only tier — which is limited to standard-definition video — is priced at 17 ringgit per month, or around $4. That’s around half the cost of Netflix’s current entry-level Basic package, at RM33 ($7.90) per month, and 60% cheaper than the Standard two-stream HD plan at RM42 ($10).

Netflix last month announced that it was going to experiment with lower-cost pricing models in international markets, including in India. Those will be priced “below our current lowest tier,” chief product officer Greg Peters said on the company’s Q3 earnings interview last month. “We’ll see how that does in terms of being able to accelerate our growth and get more access.”

Apart from Malaysia and India, Netflix declined to identify the countries where it is planning to test the mobile-only plan. A company rep noted that Netflix routinely tests different concepts, which sometimes never become generally available.

“We are always looking for ways to make Netflix more enjoyable and more accessible to people all over the world,” a Netflix spokesman said in a statement to Variety. “In this case, we are testing to understand consumer interest in a mobile-only plan in some countries.”

As part of its international push, Netflix is investing heavily in local content, including a growing slate of original series and films in India and anime series including those based on “Pacific Rim” and “Altered Carbon.” The streaming giant has ordered 17 new original shows from Japan, India, Thailand and Taiwan.

But Netflix doesn’t tier its service based on access to programming. Its plans are based on use-cases and features, in the same way premium music-streaming services like Spotify and Pandora do. That’s in contrast to traditional premium content services (like pay TV), which are tiered based on programming tonnage: You pay more money, you get more channels.

In the U.S, Netflix offers three plans: the single-stream, non-HD Basic ($7.99 per month); the Standard two-stream HD tier ($10.99 per month); and Premium, with four streams and Ultra HD access ($13.99 per month).

Netflix’s latest pricing-plan test reflects the fact that Asia overindexes on mobile-video usage. To a greater extent than anywhere else in the world, Asian consumers treat smartphones as their “first screen.”

About 74% of all video plays in the second quarter of 2018 were on mobile devices in the Asia-Pacific region, according to online-video platform vendor Ooyala. That’s compared with 65% in Latin America, 56% in North America, and 54% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) for the same period.

“Even two years ago, you could make the argument that user-consumption patterns would not have allowed a subscription package like this to work. But now it does,” says Belsasar Lepe, founder and CTO of Ooyala, adding: “With 5G on the horizon, this will look even smarter.”

Netflix’s previous pricing tests have included a high-end streaming plan centered on Ultra HD and HDR features in select markets earlier this year, set at around $17 monthly. At this point, the company hasn’t moved to introduce it as a generally available option.

More Digital

  • hdhomerun roku app

    HDHomerun App Brings Live TV to Roku Devices

    Roku users are getting another way to watch live television with the help of their favorite streaming devices: Silicondust, maker of the HDHomerun TV tuners, has released a beta version of its HDHomerun app for Roku TVs and streaming devices. “We need to start out by saying this is very much a beta product,” the [...]

  • Vox Media

    Vox Media Staff Ratifies First Union Contract, Negotiated by Writers Guild

    Staffers at Vox Media, which includes Curbed, Eater, Polygon, Recode, SB Nation, The Verge and Vox.com, have ratified their first collective bargaining agreement with more than 90% in support. The staffers are represented by the Writers Guild of America East. Vox Media’s 350-member unit began bargaining their first contract in April 2018. The campaign to [...]

  • Joslyn Davis, Lily-Marston - Shared Media

    Clevver’s Joslyn Davis, Lily Marston Launch Their Own YouTube Media Venture (EXCLUSIVE)

    Here’s the latest chapter in the saga of Clevver, the entertainment/lifestyle YouTube network marooned by the shuttering of former parent Defy Media and subsequently snapped up by Hearst Magazines. Two of the principal creatives behind Clevver — Joslyn Davis and Lily Marston — together with Clevver Media co-founder Jorge Maldonado have launched Shared Media, their [...]

  • Money-Diaries-Refinery29

    Refinery29 to Produce Interactive Series Funded by Eko (EXCLUSIVE)

    Refinery29 has been bitten by the “Bandersnatch” bug. The millennial-female-focused digital media and entertainment company inked a pact with Eko, an interactive-video platform developer whose backers include Walmart, to produce several “choose-your-own-adventure”-style series based on Refinery29 content properties. The companies have started development on their first project: an interactive scripted adaptation of Refinery29’s popular “Money [...]

  • Dan Howell

    YouTube Star Dan Howell Comes Out as Gay: 'It Gets So Much Better'

    It’s Pride Month, and popular YouTube vlogger Dan Howell had a message for fans that he’d been working on for a year: “Basically, I’m Gay,” he shared in a video Thursday. In the 45-minute video, Howell discussed coming to terms with his sexual orientation and his thoughts on labels that people use to define themselves [...]

  • Netflix Expands Korean Content Commitment

    Netflix Expands Korean Content Commitment as Industry Deepens

    Global streaming giant, Netflix is expanding its involvement in the Korean film and TV industries by greenlighting several new shows and renewing others. “When we started three years ago, we had a high degree of confidence that Korean drama would work well in Asia, but we had no internal metrics of our own,” Korean content [...]

  • Instagram Logo

    Instagram Outage: Facebook’s Photo Sharing Service Went Down For Multiple Hours

    Instagram faced another major outage Thursday afternoon, with users from around the world reporting that they weren’t able to access Facebook’s photo sharing service via its app and website. An Instagram spokesperson told Variety around 5pm PT that the issue had been resolved: “Earlier today, a technical issue caused some people to have trouble accessing [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content