Streaming giant Netflix has launched a free plan, but only for users in Kenya with an Android phone.
The ad-free plan, which is now rolling out to users in Kenya, is part of Netflix’s efforts to get more users into the African market.
When users sign up, no payment information is required. All they have to do is confirm that they are 18 years of age or older, enter an email address and create a password.
There’s a catch, though: the free option only has about a quarter of all the content offered with a paid subscription.
Shows included in the tier include ‘Blood & Water’, ‘Money Heist’, ‘Lupine’, ‘Dynasty’, ‘Bridgerton’, ‘Army of the Dead’, ‘The Witcher’.
Netflix, which streams in more than 190 countries, has previously taken steps to boost usage in Africa, including creating a paid mobile subscription and partnerships with local telecom operators to facilitate payments.
With 209 million subscribers worldwide, Netflix is the world’s largest streaming service, but the African continent is seen as an untapped gold mine of users and one of the last frontiers in its pursuit of world domination.
MailOnline has reached out to Netflix about whether a similar plan would be rolled out to other countries in Africa or to other continents.
If you live in Kenya, you can enjoy Netflix on an Android phone for free. However, you can only access about a quarter of the total content available on the streaming site
NETLIX ABBOS BY REGION IN 2023
North America – 77 million
Latin America – 25 million
Sub-Saharan Africa – 4 million
Middle East and North Africa – 8 million
Western Europe – 48 million
Eastern Europe – 9 million
Asia-Pacific – 28 million
Source: Digital TV Research
The streaming service has just 1.4 million subscribers on the African continent, according to Digital TV Research, a London-based industry forecaster – a fraction of the 13 million in the UK and 74 million in North America.
Digital TV Research predicts Netflix subscriptions in Africa will rise to 15.06 million by 2026, up from 5.11 million expected by the end of this year.
It also projects that Netflix will lead the leading video-on-demand services in the African continent by 2026 with 6.26 million paying customers.
Netflix has been available in Kenya and other African countries since its large-scale international expansion in 2016, but the new plan suggests Kenyan users have yet to try it.
Cathy Conk, director of product innovation at Netflix, outlined the new plan in a blog post published on Monday.
“At Netflix, we want everyone to enjoy the thrill of ‘Blood & Water’, the romance of ‘Bridgerton’ and the adventure of ‘Army of the Dead,’” she said.
‘Now we are giving the public in Kenya the chance to experience these stories for themselves – completely free of charge.
“If you’ve never watched Netflix – and many people in Kenya haven’t – this is a great way to experience our service.
“And if you like what you see, you can easily upgrade to one of our paid plans, so you can also enjoy our full catalog on your TV or laptop.”
Conk said she hopes many of the people who try the free plan “love Netflix so much that they’ll upgrade to a full, paid subscription over time.”
Kenyan users can create up to five free profiles as part of the plan, which come with personalized recommendations, parental controls, and profiles (including kids), just like the regular paid plan.
However, some features, such as the ability to download a show or movie, are not available under the free plan.
Digital TV Research predicts Netflix subscriptions in Africa will rise to 15.06 million by 2026, up from 5.11 million expected by the end of this year
Shows not included in the free plan are marked with a lock icon. Clicking on any of those titles encourages the user to sign up for a paid option.
The non-paying Netflix subscribers in Kenya are not included in the paid total the company reports each quarter, a company spokesperson told Reuters.
Netflix has experimented with free offers before. In 2020, some episodes of series such as “Stranger Things” and movies, including “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” were made available for free through web browsers around the world.
In July, Netflix released its latest earnings report, which revealed disappointing subscriber growth for 2021, and confirmed it would expand into games in the near future.
The streaming giant reported gains of just 5.5 million subscribers in the first six months of this year — the weakest number since 2013.
The earnings report showed it added 1.5 million subscribers during the April-June quarter, less than 1.75 million analysts had expected, as well as 5.5 million for the first half of the year.
1.5 million is slightly better than the modest increase management predicted after the service got off to a slow start, but still well below the growth rate of recent years.
Despite the delay, Netflix remains by far the largest streaming service in the world in an increasingly competitive field that includes Disney+, HBO, Amazon and Apple.
THE HISTORY OF NETFLIX PRICE HIKES
May 2014Netflix announced an increase in its monthly fee for streaming movies and television shows from £5.99 to £6.99.
The price increase was immediate for new subscribers, but delayed by two years for existing members.
But Netflix allowed subscribers to continue to pay £5.99 per month if they opt for a lower-resolution ‘SD’ quality service.
May 2016: Netflix increases the monthly price for basic users in the UK from £5.99 to £7.49 per month.
A similar price change occurred for US customers, who saw their subscription costs increase by $2 (then about £1.40).
Anyone who signed up to Netflix when it launched in the UK would have received the standard package for £5.99 a month.
But in an email to subscribers, Netflix wrote: “When we increased prices for new Netflix members in 2014, we kept your price the same for two years. Your special price is now expiring and your new price is £7.49 per month.’
October 2017: The company raised prices in both the UK and US for the first time in two years.
The standard package price increases by 50 cents to £7.99 per month.
The premium package rose to £9.99 per month, up from £1.
Netflix said at the time that the price change reflected the additional content being added to its service.
May 2019: Netflix confirms UK customers will see the standard rate price rise from £7.99 to £8.99.
The premium rate was also increased by £2 to £11.99.
January 2021: Netflix raises subscription costs for UK users as the country entered its third lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
The standard package – which allows two screens to access an account, as well as HD – was increased by £1 per month, from £8.99 to £9.99.
The premium package – which offers access to four screens per account and Ultra HD – is increased by £2, from £11.99 to £13.99.