American media company Netflix to introduce mobile-only subscription in Africa

AFRICA – American Technology and Media service giant, Netflix Inc has concluded plans to introduce cheaper, mobile-only subscription in Africa so as to strengthen its presence in the region.

Netflix’s latest feature is in addition to commissioning more locally produced contents and shows that depict the cultures and experiences of ordinary Africans.

Netflix Inc. became the world’s largest subscription-streaming service by flooding the market with popular content that’s cheaper than the competition.

However, 5 years after it got introduced in Africa, the United States company is struggling to grow beyond the wealthiest segment of the population, in a continent held back by poverty, piracy and limited access to broadband.

The rate of smartphone ownership in the continent has however been gradually growing and current data shows that at east 30% of adults on the continent have access to mobile phones.

This coupled with the rapid expansion of 4G mobile networks, is given to get to audiences for Netflix especially in a country like Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest economy and the heart of its TV industry.

Netflix’s foray is however expected to greatly increase the competition for the African market with Showmaxx, the Multichoice subsidiary, which is the market leader in the video streaming segment.

The move could also help increase the American video streaming service presence in the continent where it is currently struggling to gain traction and is still regarded as a relatively small player

According to Digital TV Research, the streaming service firm has only 1.4 million subscribers when compared to about 20 million customers that have been signed up to Multichoice Group Ltd, the leading African pay-TV firm.

Netflix plans to expand the mobile-only contracts permanently if the trials, which began in South Africa and Egypt, become a success.

The company has already signed deals with South African wireless carriers to add subscriptions to people’s phone bills and offers pre-paid vouchers for those without bank accounts.

This is similar to the services that have been adopted by Showmax, MultiChoice’s streaming service.

Netflix is offering subscribers N1,200 ($2.65) a month for its mobile-only service, well below the N2,900 it’s been charging for its most basic account.

To gain traction on the continent, Netflix  has also  moved to avoid the low production values found in a lot of Nollywood output and rather chose to focus on channelling  the continent’s best talent.

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