Netflix’s Mobile-Only Plan Is Likely Not Good Enough to Compete in India

The race is on as India is expected to have 1 billion video screens — including 750 million video active smartphones by 2023. After much speculation, Netflix launched a mobile-only plan in India for INR 199/month ($2.88). The new plan works only on a single mobile device and streams in 480p. While it is more competitive than their previous plans that started at INR 499/month ($7.23) — it still is more expensive than both Amazon Prime Video ($15 a year / $2 a month) or Hotstar ($14.50 a year).

With Hotstar, which was recently acquired by Disney from 21st Century Fox, you get content from HBO, Showtime, and is expected to add the Disney+ library of original movies, shows, and classic at no additional cost.

Hotstar VIP ($5 per year) and Hotstar Premium (~$15 per year) both include live cricket, Premier League, Formula 1, and the latest episodes of Indian TV. The more expensive plan also comes with Hollywood Blockbusters and the latest American TV shows — including those from HBO like Game of Thrones, Showtime like Billions, Fox like Empire, NBC like This is Us, ABC like Modern Family, and CBS like Big Bang Theory.

At Disney’s Investor Day — Hotstar shared that they have over 300 million monthly active users, which include those that access their free content similar to The Roku Channel. Unlike the Netflix plan, Hotstar can be used on Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV and Chromecast. Only one piece of premium content can be used at the same time, so if you have multiple simultaneous streamers — you’ll need more than one account.

So while Netflix introducing a lower-cost option for India was a start, unless there is demand for Netflix Originals, it still doesn’t seem like a strong enough alternative for what Indian consumers can already get in the market.