Skip to navigationSkip to content

Netflix is trying to woo Kenyans with a free mobile plan

A man in a mask uses his mobile phone in a dimly lit space.
Reuters/Thomas Mukoya
Netflix’s move is a strategy to gain a wider audience in subscription video on demand in the continent.
  • Carlos Mureithi
By Carlos Mureithi

East Africa correspondent


Netflix has launched a free plan for Android mobile phone users in Kenya with the aim of getting more subscribers in the east African market. In an announcement on its website, the streaming giant says it hopes people to try out the service, then upgrade to a paid plan.

“If you’ve never watched Netflix before—and many people in Kenya haven’t—this is a great way to experience our service,” the company says.

Netflix is trying to gain a wider audience in Africa

The move marks another significant strategy by Netflix to gain a wider audience and increase its market share in subscription video on demand in the continent. The company has been investing in African original programming, with its first fully produced African original series, Queen Sono, premiering last year. In June, The platform launched a lower-priced mobile-only plan for South Africa. And more recently, it dubbed the American sitcom The Upshaws into Swahili, the most widely spoken language in Africa.

With a population of 1.2 billion people, Africa represents a huge opportunity for subscription video on demand services. For tech companies like Netflix, Kenya represents subscriber potential with its fast adoption of tech and growing middle class with disposable income.

The new mobile-only plan might also indicate that Netflix is considering tiered pricing (weekly or daily plans) and the ability to pay for subscription using mobile money, features that some of its local competitors already have.

The number of subscription video-on-demand users in the continent is projected to reach 5.1 million by the end of this year and triple to 15 million by 2026. Netflix already has the highest number of subscribers in the continent, and it’s expected to retain top spot by 2026, although its market share is projected to have reduced by then due to competition from domestic and foreign platforms.

Netflix faces a formidable competitor in the homegrown Showmax, which entered the market earlier, has had a localization strategy from the start, and also has lower-priced mobile-only packages among its offerings.

The new free plan, which Netflix started rolling out on Sept. 20, will have about a quarter of the service’s content that’s available in Kenya. Users will be required to sign up by entering their email address, confirming they’re above 18 years and creating a password.

“Then you can sit back and watch many of Netflix’s most popular series and films, as well as enjoy our personalized recommendations, parental controls, and profiles” the streamer says.

Sign up to the Quartz Africa Weekly Brief here for news and analysis on African business, tech, and innovation in your inbox.

🌍 Keep up with developments and emerging industries in Africa.

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.