Netflix Inc. this week began offering a free mobile video-streaming plan with about a quarter of its TV shows and movies in Kenya in an effort to boost awareness in one of the countries with the biggest percentage of Internet subscribers in Sub-Sahara Africa, where most Internet users access the net through the mobile network.
“This is a strategy aimed at sparking growth in a key African market,” said the company Monday.
Netflix says the free plan is now available on Android mobile phones and that no adverts will be running besides the content.
It features Netflix movies and TV shows such as dramas “Money Heist” and “Bridgerton” and African series “Blood & Water,” as well as some of the programming the company licenses from others.
Netflix hopes the free plan will lead to users signing up for a paid option with more content in future.
The free plan in Kenya is broader and will look similar to paid Netflix profiles to give viewers a feel for the service, the company announced, according to Reuters.
To help users differentiate what is free and what is not, shows that are not included in the free plan will be marked with a lock icon. Clicking on one of those titles will encourage the user sign up for a paid option.
Anyone 18 or older in Kenya can enroll in the free plan and create up to five profiles. with no payment information required.
By this latest move, the world’s largest streaming video service is looking to add customers outside of more saturated markets such as the United States, where new subscriber signups have slowed at a time when competition for online audiences has intensified.
To attract customers in Africa, the company is investing in locally produced programs such as “Queen Sono” and “Jiva!” and has partnered with production studios in Nigeria.
“If you’ve never watched Netflix before — and many people in Kenya haven’t — this is a great way to experience our service,” Cathy Conk, director of product innovation at Netflix, said in a blog post.
“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.”
The free plan will soon roll-out across Kenya in the coming days.
The non-paying Netflix subscribers in Kenya will not be counted in the paid total the company reports each quarter, Netflix announced.
This is not the first time that the company is experimenting with free offers. Last year, it made some episodes of series such as “Stranger Things” and movies including “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” which were available around the world via web browsers free of charge.
However, functions such as the ability to download a show or movie, will not be available under the free plan…at least not for now.