Netflix confirms that they will be piloting a new, cost-effective subscription plan available exclusively for mobile devices. Part of the streaming giant's continued major share of the streaming video market can be attributed to its initiative to adapt not only to smartphones and tablets, but also to emerging video technologies, like Chromecast, Roku, and FireTV. This move demonstrates another proactive attempt to optimize the preferred viewing experience of the subscriber.
Founded in 1997, the U.S.-based company started as a mail-order video rental service, competing with big-names like Blockbuster. Netflix entered the video streaming market by making its licenced content accessible to viewers at an affordable monthly rate. Today in the U.S., accounts, which were once easily shareable, are available as one ($7.99), two ($10.99), or four ($13.99) viewer profiles per account. Their exponential growth is largely attributed to their investment in successful original content like House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black, and the Marvel TV Universe. Despite competitors like Hulu and Amazon Prime achieving their own wins, and long-time partner Disney's decision to invest in their own streaming service, Netflix has fastidiously been one step ahead when it comes to anticipating viewership trends in a still-rapidly shifting content consumption landscape. Now they may have pinpointed the next turning point.
Netflix confirms that they will be a testing a mobile-only subscription retailed at $4.00 per month. So far, only India and Malaysia are confirmed to be test markets for the project, which will, at least initially, focus on Asian markets, due to the significantly higher rates of smart device video consumption. According to Variety, a quarterly third-party study revealed that nearly 74 percent of total video plays were on mobile devices in the Asia-Pacific region, vs. roughly 55 percent in North America and Europe. A Netflix spokesperson commented to Variety:
“We are always looking for ways to make Netflix more enjoyable and more accessible to people all over the world. In this case, we are testing to understand consumer interest in a mobile-only plan in some countries.”
For Netflix, the project coincides with a focus on Asian market penetration by increasing content creation. In India, Netflix's subscriber base is reportedly five million, compared to Amazon's 11 million. They've ordered 17 new originals to be developed in Japan, India, Thailand, and Taiwan, following the success of both their live-action and animated shows like Good Morning Call and Devilman Crybaby.
Whether or not the project would be viable for North American viewers is up for debate. Some studies have shown that mobile streaming is much higher among millennials, not only for Netflix, but also services like YouTube and Spotify. Netflix's mobile capabilities also enable the user to download and watch content offline, which has helped proliferate a trend of watching more content out of the home. While Netflix reportedly disparaged its association with binge-watching, they're also clearly taking measures to create more to watch by doubling their original content creation quota, and bringing on television's creative titans like Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy and Marti Noxon. As such, the next year will likely answer some long-standing questions about what entertainment experiences will look like in the next decade.