Why Netflix’s Mobile-Only Bet in India Matters

As subscriber growth slows, India could add tens of millions of new viewers and serve as a testing ground for the streaming giant

Netflix has a bit of a problem. It needs to add more subscribers to its already robust 150 million global customer base at the same time it’s reaching a saturation point in the U.S.

Tucked into the company’s recent note to investors, following its lackluster second quarter earnings report, Netflix unveiled a new plan that could spur its next wave of loyal viewers: a cheap, mobile-only subscription for India.

“Following up on its disappointing results for the last quarter, Netflix wants to aggressively build its international footprint, and there are few better or more important markets than India,” Alvin Lieberman, executive director at New York University’s Entertainment, Media and Technology Initiative, said. “India’s OTT demand is expected to grow rapidly and having a low-priced mobile-only offering is a way for Netflix to expand its subscriber base.”

It’s not like Netflix is completely foreign to India. Netflix has about 5 million active accounts in the country; the problem for the company, though, is that the vast majority of the customers are on month-long free trials. Only 6-8% of Indian subscribers are actually paying customers, according to research shared by Counterpoint, a market research firm.

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Sean Burch


Just a kid from the streets of Orange County, writing about tech