Netflix has just launched a super-cheap new subscription tier, which costs the equivalent of just over £3 a month − but it’s limited in several ways.
First and foremost, it’s not available in the UK or, chances are, the country you’re reading this from. Unless that country is Malaysia or India.
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Netflix launched the plan in Malaysia this week. It’s mobile-only, which means that customers can’t cast content from their phone to a TV, and picture quality tops out at standard definition (480p).
But check out the price. The plan costs MYR 17 (~£3.15) per month. For context, the cheapest plan currently available to people based in the UK − which also tops out at standard definition − costs £5.99.
“Our members in Malaysia love to watch shows on their smartphones and tablets,” said Ajay Arora, Netflix’s director of product innovation (via TechCrunch). “With the first-ever Mobile plan in Southeast Asia, all of Netflix’s shows and movies will be even more accessible for Malaysians to stream and download.”
That said, back in July the streaming giant launched a similar mobile-only plan in India, where it costs even less than it does in Malaysia − 199 rupees (~£2.31) per month.
At the time, Netflix reportedly said that it had no plans to bring this plan to more countries. However, its stance has now changed.
“We do these different tests and try to figure out what is the right set of plans that have the right benefits, the right features that are delivered at the right price for the subscribers in any given market,” Netflix’s chief product officer, Gregory K. Peters, said last week when Netflix’s Q3 2019 earnings were revealed.
“And I think what we’re exploring is, as we are operating in markets that have very, very different conditions, very different levels of affluence and other forms of entertainment competition, et cetera, what is the right structure for us.”
He continued: “And so we’ve been very, very happy with the mobile plan [in India]. It’s actually performing better than we tested. We’ll look at testing that in other markets, too, because we think there are other markets which have similar conditions that make it likely that, that’s going to be successful for us there as well.
“But I also think we’re going to look at other plan structures, other feature value benefits where we might see different market conditions that will work there. And I won’t get into sort of leaning into those, we’ll see them as we roll out, and we’ll respond to them based on what our consumers in those markets, our members to be in those markets are telling us is working or not.”
This offers hope that cheaper, and potentially more flexible, plans could be on the way.
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Multiple studies have now shown that the explosion of Netflix-like streaming services, such as Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus, will drive more and more people towards piracy, and it’s possible that the companies behind them will react by trying to do something new.