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Netflix to roll out cheaper mobile-only plan for India

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07/18/2019 | 03:25am EDT
The Netflix logo is pictured on a television in this illustration photograph taken in Encinitas California

(Reuters) - Netflix Inc said on Wednesday it would roll out a lower-priced mobile-only plan in India within the next three months to tap into a price-sensitive market at a time the streaming company is losing customers in its home turf.

India is among the last big growth markets for the company, where it faces competition from Amazon.com Inc's Prime Video and Hotstar, a video streaming platform owned by Walt Disney Co's India unit.

Netflix lost U.S. streaming customers for the first time in eight years on Wednesday, when it posted quarterly results. It also missed targets for new subscribers overseas.

"India is a mobile-first nation, where many first-time users are experiencing the internet on their phones. In such a scenario, a mobile-only package makes sense to target new users," said Tarun Pathak, analyst at Counterpoint Research.

The creator of "Stranger Things" and "The Crown" said in March that it was testing a 250-rupee (2.92 pounds) monthly subscription for mobile devices in India, where data plans are among the cheapest in the world.

The country figures prominently in Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings' global expansion plans.

"We believe this plan, which will launch in the third quarter, will be an effective way to introduce a larger number of people in India to Netflix and to further expand our business," the company said in a letter to investors released late on Wednesday.

Netflix currently offers three monthly plans in India, priced between 500 rupees ($7.27) and 800 rupees $11.63).

It has created a niche following in the country by launching local original shows like the thriller "Sacred Games" and dystopian tale "Leila", which feature popular Bollywood actors.

The second season of "Sacred Games" is set to release in August.

In contrast, Hotstar, which also offers content from AT&T Inc's HBO and also streams live sports, charges 299 rupees ($4.35) per month. Amazon bundles its video and music streaming services with its Prime membership.

"We've been seeing nice steady increases in engagement with our Indian viewers that we think we can keep building on. Growth in that country is a marathon, so we're in it for the long haul," Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said.

(This story refiles to correct to say dropped word added in paragraph 5, not 10)

(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Munsif Vengattil, Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru and Arriana Mclymore in New York; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Gopakumar Warrier)

By Munsif Vengattil and Arriana McLymore

Stocks treated in this article : Walt Disney Company (The), AT&T, Amazon.com, Netflix
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AMAZON.COM -0.89% 1992.03 Delayed Quote.33.82%
AT&T -0.95% 33.26 Delayed Quote.17.66%
NETFLIX -0.97% 362.44 Delayed Quote.36.74%
WALT DISNEY COMPANY (THE) -1.20% 142.57 Delayed Quote.30.02%
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EBIT 2019 30 555 M
Net income 2019 19 358 M
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Capitalization 243 B
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