Netflix is testing a cheaper, mobile-only subscription option in Malaysia

Mobile-only subscriptions are about half the price of a basic Netflix account.
Mobile-only subscriptions are about half the price of a basic Netflix account.
Image: Courtesy of Netflix
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With 137 million subscribers, Netflix is a giant in video streaming. But while it dominates in the US, it’s less commanding in Asia, where it competes with cheaper alternatives. Netflix subscriptions cost between $8-$10 a month worldwide, but YouTube, for instance, is free, and services like Viu ($2-$5/month), India’s Hotstar (~$3/month), and HOOQ ($1.40/week) charge significantly less. In hopes of attracting new subscribers, Netflix has quietly begun testing a mobile-only streaming option in Malaysia.

The new “mobile” subscription tier is significantly cheaper. It costs 17 Malaysian ringgits a month, the equivalent of around $4, about half the cost of a “basic” subscription, which costs RM33 (just under $8). Like the basic plan, a mobile subscription allows users to stream Netflix shows and movies from a device, but that device must be a phone or tablet. And while the more expensive standard or premium plans allow users to stream in high definition or Ultra HD, the mobile subscription being tested in Malaysia only streams in Standard Definition.

It’s not clear whether there’s a workaround for users to stream content from their mobile device to a larger screen, via a third-party app or cables. It’s also not yet clear in which countries Netflix will test a mobile subscription tier. “We are testing to understand consumer interest in a mobile-only plan in some countries,” Netflix tells Quartz. “Generally, we try out lots of new ideas at any given time, and they can vary in how long they last and who sees them. We may not ever roll out the features or elements included in a test.”

Beyond testing more competitive prices, Netflix is trying to attract customers in Asia through its programming decisions. In recent months, Netflix has announced plans to film eight original movies and a new series for Netflix India, and 17 original movies from other parts of Asia.