Netflix is testing a cheap mobile-only subscription tier in some markets

Just last week Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told Bloomberg that the company would soon be testing new subscription tiers, and now it looks like we’re already seeing the first one. Netflix has begun rolling out a mobile-only subscription in Malaysia, which costs around $4 per month. That’s half the price of the next tier up, which costs about $7.90 per month.

In general, Netflix seems to be looking to expand its presence in emerging markets like Asia, where more people might have access to a smartphone than streaming features on their TV. Netflix confirmed that it’s running tests in a TechCrunch report, saying that trials were “running in a few countries,” though we’re not yet sure exactly which countries the plan is available in.

Rolling out a mobile-only tier isn’t all that surprising for Netflix. After all, U.S. subscribers still make up a huge portion of Netflix’s user base. While millions of people may be able to afford plans in the U.S., Netflix’s plans are still a little steep for some, so finding ways to bring Netflix to those people should be a priority for the company. Netflix has 79 million subscribers that live outside the U.S., with a total of 137 million subscribers. The number of international subscribers is only likely to grow, especially given new plans like this mobile-only one.

Subscription tiers aside, however, Netflix is also making an effort to offer more local content in Asian markets. This month, the company announced that it would be releasing eight new original movies and a new series in India and it’s likely that its efforts in markets like India will only continue as time goes on.

Of course, it’s also entirely possible that the cheaper subscription tiers may one day make their way to the U.S., even if they’re largely designed for emerging markets. The downside to that is that some subscribers who pay for a Basic membership may downgrade their accounts to a mobile-only one. The upside, however, is that Netflix may gain new subscribers.

We’ll have to wait and see how wide-spread Netflix’s mobile-only tier becomes, and if it ever reaches the U.S.


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