Netflix to pilot free weekend-long access in India

Netflix plans to experiment with free access to users in India for a weekend as part of its plan to expand its reach in the country.

"We think giving everyone in-country access to Netflix for free for a weekend could be a great way to expose a group of new people to the great stories that we have, the service and how the service works, and hopefully get a bunch of those folks to sign up, "said Greg Peters, Netflix's chief operating officer, and chief product officer Greg Peters said in a post-earnings interview on Wednesday. He, however, didn't disclose any further details.

Netflix has conducted various price tests in India and many parts of the world over the past year, in an effort to expand its user base while maintaining its premium offerings. It stopped offering a 30-day free trial in India earlier this year and recently expanded it to all markets.

The leading video streaming major launched a low-cost mobile-only plan for the Indian market at Rs 199 per month in July last year, which has since been rolled out in other Asian markets such as Malaysia and the Philippines.

It has also piloted a cheaper entry-level plan, weekly plans, and long-term discount subscription plans, plus free access to content for non-members in the country for a limited time. In August, it made certain shows and movies available for free to all users around the world.

Netflix india free access

Growth in Asia-Pacific region

The development, however, comes in the backdrop of Los Gatos California-based company increasingly relying on international markets for future growth.

In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said that the Asia Pacific region was the largest contributor to its paid membership growth in the quarter ending September, accounting for 46% of global paid additions during the quarter. The company announced 23.5 paid subscribers in the region in the third quarter, while the global paid subscriber base reached 195.2 million. 

Revenues from the region increased by 66% to $ 635 million for the quarter, from $ 382 million in the same period last year.

"While this is encouraging, we still have a lot of work to do and we are working hard to replicate this success in India and other countries," the company said in the letter.

India has become an important market for the company, as well as being a major content hub. However, it faces stiff competition from competitors such as Disney + Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Essel Group's ZEE5, and Times Internet-owned MX Player *, all of which offer cheaper price packages to users in the country. 

"We've worked hard to try and make our offerings in India more competitive and attractive to new members and members, and there are a ton of different product features we've been doing, partnerships, and payment integrations," Peters told analysts in April this year.

In December, the service announced plans to spend Rs 3000 crore on content programming in India in 2019 and 2020. The video streaming platform has cost between 50 and 60 productions in the country, representing its largest investment in original programming. Outside of the US On the product front, it added support for the Hindi language user interface in August this year.

Netflix india free access

Netflix also recently partnered with Reliance Jio, whose service has been merged as part of two Jio set-top boxes. "We have also partnered with financial institutions in India to make payment processing easier and smoother for our members, which we hope will have retention benefits," the company said in the letter.

Global user growth slows down

After a blistering subscriber surge in the first half of 2020, aided by blackout restrictions due to the virus outbreak, growth slowed significantly in the September quarter. Netflix added just 2.2 million subscribers during the quarter compared to 6.8 million subscribers in the same period last year. 

The company said a growth slowdown was expected due to record performance in the first two quarters of 2020, noting that it added 28.1 million subscribers in the first nine months of 2020, exceeding the total of 27.8 million-member additions. of the company in each year 2019. 

"While we expect the world to recover in 2021, we expect our growth to return to pre-Covid levels. Rather, we expect paid net additions to decline year-over-year in the first half of 2021," said the company in a letter to shareholders.

Source: Economic Times

Also Read: Why widespread virus damage failed to dent the image of India's most popular political leader

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