Netflix to test free weekend-long access in India

Manish Singh
·2-min read
A monitor displays a "Little Things" page on the Netflix Inc. website in an arranged photograph at the Pocket Aces Pvt studio in Mumbai, India, on Monday, July 29, 2019. The tiny digital studio is making a name for itself in the world's most prolific movie industry, scoring funding from a marquee Silicon Valley investor right after nailing a deal to stream its most popular show on Netflix. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A monitor displays a "Little Things" page on the Netflix Inc. website in an arranged photograph at the Pocket Aces Pvt studio in Mumbai, India, on Monday, July 29, 2019. The tiny digital studio is making a name for itself in the world's most prolific movie industry, scoring funding from a marquee Silicon Valley investor right after nailing a deal to stream its most popular show on Netflix. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Netflix plans to give users in India access to its service at no charge for a weekend as part of a test to expand its reach in the country, a top company executive said Tuesday.

The American streaming giant, which today reported slow user growth for the quarter that ended in September, recently stopped offering a first-month complimentary access to new users in the U.S. But the company plans to keep experimenting with new ways to lure potential in many parts of the world, said Greg Peters, COO and Chief Product Officer at Netflix on the company's earnings call.

One of those new ways is giving away access to Netflix at no charge to customers for a weekend in different markets, he said. The company has picked India, where it competes with Disney, Amazon, and technically three-dozen additional services, as the first market where it will test this idea and "will see how that goes," from there, he said.

"We think that giving away everyone in a country access to Netflix for free for a weekend could be a great way to expose a bunch of new people to the amazing stories that we have, the service and how it works ... and hopefully get a bunch of those folks to sign up," he said, without sharing exactly when the company will roll out this new test in India. (It had not at the time of publishing.)

This won't be the first time Netflix uses India as a test bed to explore new ideas. The company first flirted with the idea of a $2.7 mobile-only monthly plan in New Delhi before introducing it as a permanent tier in the country last year and then nearly a dozen markets. It has since tested even more pricing plans in the country.

India emerged as the largest open battleground for Silicon Valley and Chinese firms searching for their next billion users in the past decade. Disney, Amazon, Google, Apple, Spotify and several other firms offer a range of their services at a much affordable price range in India, the world's second largest internet market.

The company, which earmarked $420 million to develop and license content in India by end of 2020 last year, is also deepening its collaboration with other industry players in the country.

It recently partnered with Reliance Jio Platforms, India's largest telecom operator, to bundle its app on the Indian firm's fiber broadband and mobile data plans. The company has also partnered with several financial institutions in India to make payment processing easier for users in the country, it said. "We expect [more payment options] will have retention benefits. All of these initiatives are important and work in concert with our big investment in local originals to improve the Netflix experience for our members," the company said in a letter to shareholders (PDF).