Netflix launches Rs 199 ($2.8) mobile-only monthly plan in India

Netflix has a new plan to win users in India: make its service incredibly cheap. The streaming giant today introduced a lower-priced mobile plan in the country that costs Rs 199 ($2.8) per month.

The mobile-only plan restricts the usage of the service to one mobile device and offers only the standard definition viewing (~480p). It also supports viewing on tablets. Netflix started to test a lower-priced subscription plan in India and some other markets in Asia late last year.  At a press conference in New Delhi, company officials said they currently have no plans to expand this offering to other markets.

The announcement comes days after Netflix reported that it added 2.7 million new subscribers in the quarter that ended in June this year, far fewer than the 5.1 million figure it had projected earlier this year. Jessica Lee, VP of Communications at Netflix, said company’s recent performance in other markets did not influence its move in India.

Netflix announced last week that it planned to introduce a mobile-only subscription offering in India by Q3 this year. But it will go live later today, officials said.

Ajay Arora, Director of Product Innovation, said mobile devices are increasingly driving consumption in India. Netflix users in India are watching more content on mobile than users in any other country, he said.

Netflix competes with over three dozen streaming services in India. Hotstar, a streaming service owned by Disney, currently leads the market with over 300 million users. The ad-supported service offers about 80% of its catalog at no cost to users. Its yearly plan, which includes titles from HBO and Showtime, is priced at Rs 999 (14.5). Amazon Prime Video is priced similarly.

A cheaper plan could significantly help the company increase its user base in the country, analysts say. “Netflix had a good early start, but growth has been slow in the last six months given the mass Indian consumer market remains value-conscious,” Mihir Shah, Vice President of research firm Media Partners Asia told TechCrunch.

“At 200 rupees, Netflix could address a sizable target market in India. One could draw parallels from the Indian multiplex industry, which caters to 100 million consumers spending an average US$4 per movie. However, Netflix will need to strike the right balance of ensuring a steady supply of original local content,” he added.

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