Earlier this year, Netflix rolled out the biggest price increase in the history of its streaming service. The company’s most popular plan saw the largest price hike percentage-wise, ballooning a whopping 18% as it climbed from $10.99 a month to $12.99 a month. The basic plan that doesn’t include HD video and can only stream on one screen at a time jumped from $7.99 to $8.99, and the premium plan that includes Ultra HD and streaming to four screens simultaneously increased from $13.99 to $15.99. Some subscribers were upset at first, and there was even a bit of chatter among people who said they would cancel their accounts because of the price hike, which came just 2 years after Netflix had last inflated its prices. That chatter came from a vocal minority, of course, and most people continued to pay the new prices.
Netflix didn’t have a great quarter in Q2, but it was hardly due to a mass exodus because of that huge price hike. Instead, Netflix is simply running out of new subscribers to add in major markets like the United States because so many households already subscribe to the service. For that reason, Netflix must look elsewhere if it hopes to boost subscriber numbers, and a special new plan that just launched on Tuesday could be just what the company needed.
Here’s the good news: Netflix just launched a new streaming plan that costs less than $3 a month, making it a whopping 70% cheaper than the company’s least expensive plan in the US. And now, for the bad news: You can’t have it.
The new plan is available beginning today in India, where subscribers can now choose mobile-only streaming for Rs 199 per month. At Wednesday’s exchange rate, that works out to $2.88. The plan allows users to stream any and all of the content in Netflix India’s catalog, but only to one smartphone or tablet at a time. The plan does now allow subscribers to stream to a computer or television.
While it might seem underpriced at first, it’s actually a very smart move for Netflix. The Indian market is one of the biggest smartphone markets in the world, and many people there don’t even have traditional computers. Instead, they use their smartphones for everything, including Netflix. Since mobile streams in the country are typically lower resolution than streams to a TV or even a PC, the content is generally less expensive for Netflix to deliver.
“Our members in India watch more on their mobiles than members anywhere else in the world- and they love to download our shows and films,” Netflix’s director of product innovation Ajay Arora said in a statement. “We believe this new plan will make Netflix even more accessible and better suit people who like to watch on their smartphones and tablets — both on the go and at home.”
Needless to say, this new mobile-only streaming plan isn’t going to launch anytime soon in the US. In fact, Netflix might never make a similar plan available here, since it could potentially cannibalize a huge portion of Netflix subscribers who would have otherwise continued to pay higher prices.