Netflix offers free plan in Kenya to attract new users in Africa

21 Sep 2021

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Available on Android phones, the ad-free Netflix plan will give users in Kenya access to many of the streaming giant’s popular films and TV shows.

Netflix is offering a free plan of its streaming service to users in Kenya to boost its presence in the relatively untapped African market.

Only available on Android mobile phones, Reuters reports that the free plan includes only about a quarter of Netflix’s total content library with no option to download. The content available includes African teen crime drama Blood & Water, romantic period drama Bridgerton, and zombie heist film Army of the Dead.

The plan will allow Kenyans to stream Netflix films and TV shows ad-free and the sign-up process will not include a section for payment information. Users who enjoy the free plan can then choose to upgrade to a paid subscription – allowing them to unlock all content and the option to watch Netflix on computers and TVs.

“If you’ve never watched Netflix before — and many people in Kenya haven’t — this is a great way to experience our service,” Netflix director of product innovation Cathy Conk wrote in a post on the website. “And if you like what you see, it’s easy to upgrade to one of our paid plans so you can enjoy our full catalogue on your TV or laptop as well.”

The streaming giant has been seeing a slump in its subscription growth this year after a significant surge in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. While it ended 2020 on a high by surpassing 200m subscribers and seeing revenues grow, Netflix reported a slowdown in the first three months of 2021 that wiped $25bn off its market cap.

According to Reuters, Netflix has been investing in the African market with new programmes based in the continent such as Jiva! and Queen Sono. Netflix is also teaming up with studios in Nigeria to produce new content to attract local audiences and get a head start over competitors Disney+ and Amazon Prime.

This is not the first time Netflix has rolled out free content to attract new customers. Last year, Netflix offered up the first episode of Stranger Things and the movie To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before were briefly offered free to view via browsers.

A company spokesperson told Reuters that the free plan in Kenya will have the look and feel of the paid service and shows not included in the plan will have a lock icon on them – prompting viewers to pay if they want to view it.

“The free plan will start rolling out in Kenya today over the next few weeks. We hope it’s a great match and that many of the people who try our free plan love Netflix so much that over time they upgrade to a full, paid subscription,” Conk wrote.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic