Netflix began giving a free mobile package in Kenya on Monday that includes approximately a quarter of its TV episodes and movies, a strategy aimed at boosting development in a major African region.
In an exclusive report by Reuters, the free plan is only accessible on Android phones and is ad-free. It includes Netflix original programming as well as programming licensed from third parties, such as the dramas “Money Heist” and “Bridgerton” and the African series “Blood & Water.”
Netflix hopes that by offering a free plan, consumers will sign up for a subscription plan with more content.
Outside of more saturated regions like the United States, where new subscriber signups have stalled at a time when competition for online viewers has grown, the world’s largest streaming video provider is eager to add customers.
Company executives remain optimistic about the long term future, noting that streaming television is only now gaining traction in several key regions. Netflix is investing in locally produced shows like as “Queen Sono” and “Jiva!” and has worked with Nigerian production companies to entice African customers.
“If you’ve never watched Netflix before — and many people in Kenya haven’t — this is a great way to experience our service. And if you like what you see, it’s easy to upgrade to one of our paid plans so you can enjoy our full catalog on your TV or laptop as well.” Cathy Conk , the Director, Product Innovation at Netflix said in a statement.
The free plan went live on Monday and will be rolled out across Kenya over the next few days.
According to a Netflix spokesperson, non-paying Netflix users in Kenya will not be included in the paid number that the company reports each quarter.
Netflix has previously dabbled with free deals. It makes some episodes of shows like “Stranger Things” and movies like “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” available for free worldwide via web browsers in 2020.
Kenya’s free plan is more expansive. According to the spokesperson, it would resemble premium Netflix profiles to give users a sense of the service. A lock icon will appear next to shows that are not included in the free plan. When a user clicks on one of those titles, it will prompt them to sign up for a paid alternative.
Anyone in Kenya who is 18 years old or older can sign up for the free plan and establish up to five profiles. There will be no need to provide any payment information.
The free plan does not include some features, such as the option to download a show or movie.
Netflix has made various initiatives to increase usage in Africa, including the establishment of a paid mobile-only package and collaborations with local telecom companies to make payments easier.
At the end of June, the firm had 209 million paying clients around the world. After a surge early in the COVID-19 epidemic, new member recruitment declined in the first half of 2021.
The company did not say how long it wants to keep this free tier available in Kenya, or whether it plans to spread it to other markets.