Speaking with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings last week, Bloomberg learned that the company was considering testing a lower-priced tier of its streaming service in Asian territories. It apparently didn’t take long for the company to reach its decision, as Malaysia’s The Star reported on Wednesday that Netflix has introduced a mobile-only plan in the Asian country, charging just RM17 for a subscription (which translates to around $4 USD).
The “Mobile” plan, which costs half as much as the Basic plan, only allows users to watch Netflix on one smartphone or tablet at a time, and only in standard definition. If you want to watch on a laptop or TV, you’ll have to upgrade to at least the Basic plan, and if you want HD video, you’ll need the Standard or Premium plan.
According to TechCrunch, Malaysia is one of several countries where Netflix is testing the mobile-only plan. A Netflix spokesperson told the site that there are similar trials “running in a few countries,” but wouldn’t offer up any specifics. There’s still no telling whether or not other parts of the world will be included in these trials, or if the trials will indeed become a permanent part of the service if they prove to be successful overseas.
As TechCrunch points out, far more than half of the people who subscribe to Netflix live outside of the United States, but the company has failed to adjust its prices to match other markets. To that point, Asian rivals like Hotstar and iflix have priced their subscriptions as low as $3 — far cheaper than Netflix’s cheapest plan.
Furthermore, the number of new customers Netflix could gain by offering a mobile-only plan would far outweigh the number of users that would downgrade to a plan restricting them to their mobile devices. It seems like a natural fit for the streaming service, but we’ll have to wait and see how the trials pan out.