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Netflix Launches First Mobile-Only Streaming Plan, And It's Super-Cheap

orange is the new black season 7 looking at cell phone
(Image credit: netflix press)

Though the reported successes of recent shows like Stranger Things, When They See Us and more have given Netflix execs reasons to celebrate, the company's highly publicized financial strategies and transactions are causing many to cast doubt on the company's future as a streaming monolith. As a way to combat bleak prognoses, Netflix put into development, and has now unveiled, its first mobile-only subscription plan, and it's currently the cheapest one available.

The world's cheapest Netflix subscription is now available in India, which was strategically chosen by the company to be the first country to gain access to the mobile-only plan. India's massive population now boasts more smartphone users than the United States does, making it an extremely fertile testing ground for this new price tier.

Currently, the new Netflix plan will cost Indian customers just 199 rupees a month, which equals around $2.88. Without taxes added, that subscription would cost less than $35 for an entire year's worth of streaming. It's reported that the cost is even lower than the 250-rupee plan ($3.62) that was being tested in previous months.

It's almost laughable, in more of a frustrated way, to compare that price to the ones that U.S. customers are paying to watch Orange is the New Black, Nailed It and Office reruns (for now). The bare-bones Basic plan here in the States, which includes SD resolution one a single screen at a time, will set you back $9 a month. The Standard package, meanwhile, is $13 a month and allows for HD viewing on two screens at a time. Those who pay $16 a month can watch HD and 4K programming on up to four screens at once.

To reformat those numbers, someone opting in on the India mobile-only plan could get 15 months of service for slightly more than it would cost a U.S. Netflix viewer to pay for three months of the Premium plan. Or three months of mobile-only streaming for every one month of domestic Basic streaming.

The lower costs were calculated to play off of the huge number of Indian citizens who choose to go the mobile route when streaming movies and TV shows. Here's how Netflix's Director of Product Innovation Ajay Arora explained the company's reasoning behind debuting the new plan in India.

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. 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.

This is now the fourth pricing tier in Netflix's subscription plans for Indian customers, on top of the three previously mentioned levels. It likely won't be long before the company's execs see how well the new plan is doing in India, as it's likely many people will be taking advantage of this low-cost option as soon as they hear about it.

According to the 2019 report from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, spend around 30% of their phone-focused time on entertainment. That totals around 70% of the region's mobile data usage, which is a huge chunk. Obviously, the region seemed like the prime spot to try and bring in more subscribers that may have been skittish about joining before.

Netflix's new plan is a needed piece of positive news for the streaming company's image, which took a hit last week after the company lost $114 million in valuation following a quarter that was less successful than anticipated. Plus, the company's stock dropped more than 15% after the earnings news was revealed.

Recently, Netflix has put more of an investment on ordering and producing more projects from Indian filmmakers and other creatives, expanding the amount of global content it can supply to customers around the world. Whether the local fare will convince Indian mobile phone fanatics to get the cheaper Netflix plan or not is yet to be determined. But here in the States, where the prices only seem to keep rising, paying less to watch on a smaller screen doesn't sound half-bad.

The pressure is also now on Netflix to find a clear path to debt-free success now that there is another batch of extremely high-profiles new streaming services ready to compete. The biggest of the bunch is Disney+, which will have the strength of Marvel movies and TV shows, Star Wars movies and TV, and Disney's own giant library of multimedia originals, many of which are being plucked from Netflix upon launch.

However, there's also WarnerMedia's upcoming HBO Max, which will combine everything under the AT&T umbrella, and NBCU's upcoming streaming service (R.I.P. Seeso), among others. And that's not to mention the already thriving competitors like Amazon and the Disney-owned Hulu.

No plans yet to rollout the cheap mobile-only plan here in the U.S. anytime soon, but one can hope. What do you readers think about all this? Let us know in the comments and keep up with all the awesome TV shows heading to Netflix for the rest of 2019.

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.