2019 marks the first time in eight years that the service has lost US subscribers – around 130, 000 – and instead of adding five million new subscribers globally in its second quarter, as promised to investors, it only achieved 2.7 million.
It’s a frantic race to the top, and one of the many ways that Netflix is trying to retain its crown is through brand-new ventures.
The service has just launched a mobile-only plan in Malaysia, which costs $ 4 per month –significantly less than the basic, standard and premium packages.
Viewers can watch all of the content that Netflix has to offer in standard definition on one mobile phone or tablet at a time, and without any ads.
This follows research that revealed 88% of Malaysians own smartphones, and 78% use the internet to download and stream entertainment, according to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
“Our members in Malaysia love to watch shows on their smartphones and tablets,” said Ajay Arora, director of product innovation at Netflix (viaDeadline).
“With the first-ever mobile plan in Southeast Asia, all of Netflix’s shows and movies will be even more accessible for Malaysians to stream and download. “
The move is particularly aimed at younger viewers.
It’s not the first time Netflix has rolled out this feature. Earlier this year, the company launched its first mobile-only plan in India, and so far, so good, according to Gregory Peters, Netflix’s chief product officer.
“We’ve been very happy with the mobile plan, “he said (viaLivemint). “It’s actually performing better than we tested.”
Not only are smartphones more accessible than TVs, as stated previously, the mobile-only packages are cheaper, which is a big plus for the public – so it’s hardly surprising that the company is planning to explore this area more.
“We’ll look at testing that in other markets too, which we think have similar conditions that make it likely that it’s going to be successful for us there as well, “added Peters.
” I think what we’re exploring is, since we are operating in markets that have extremely different conditions, levels of affluence and other forms of entertainment competition, what the right structure is for us. “
It also feeds into Netflix’s push to create more foreign-language content and broaden its global appeal, which is becoming more and more necessary given that its US subscriber growth appears to be slowing down.
In Netflix’s third quarter, new global subscriptions hit 6. (million, which was up on) ‘s 6.1 million.
But does watching content on a significantly smaller screen cheapen the overall experience, particularly when it comes to nature documentaries, which are heavily reliant on visuals, or films such asRoma?
For a Netflix film to be eligible for an Oscar nomination, it must be released in cinemas, but while that is more about the small print than a desire to serve the art, director Alfonso Cuaron said that “the complete experience ofRomais unquestionably in a movie theater “.
The vast majority of critics agreed that watching it on the big screen enhanced the viewing experience, both visually and aurally.
And we all like telly.
But of course, both of those options cost a lot of money, which rules out vast swathes of people.
If it’s a choice between watching something or not, the former is undoubtedly preferable. People want to be part of the cultural conversation (because FOMO is real).
But while Netflix’s new approach is driven by financial incentives, could this new shift witness the birth of more smartphone-friendly content, created with smaller devices specifically in mind?
It would be the ideal ground for more interactive content, followingBandersnatch, and it could inspire a birth of new creatives and talent to experiment with fresh formats, as well as giving established directors and actors the chance to turn their hand to something innovative.
That’s something that ABC turned its hand to earlier this year withContent,aseven-episode TV series designed specifically to be watched on a smartphone, and not simply a scaled-down version of a TV show.
The series, which was filmed in a vertical format, follows Lucy, a millennial and aspiring influencer who becomes a “worldwide meme” after she is injured in a car accident while using her phone. It uses a number of phone features, including FaceTime, selfies, texts, email, Apple music and Facebook to tell Lucy’s story in episodes ranging from eight to 16 minutes.
It’s snappy, contemporary and embraces the mobile format to its fullest.
A TV reboot of the 1993 Action thrillerThe Fugitive, which starred Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, is currently in the works. According toDeadline, the series will star Kiefer Sutherland and Boyd Holbrook, and is set to air on Quibi, a short-form mobile video platform, which is set to launch in April 2020
The service is also aimed at younger viewers.
It was devised by Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg (Dreamworks, Disney, Paramount), who has been promoting it as a mobile-based Netflix. But unlike Netflix, the focus is entirely on mobile, offering “bite-sized” content to be watched on the go.
It was reported earlier this year that adults in the US are spending more time on their smartphones than watching TV, according to research firm eMarketer.
While that incorporates social media and work-related factors, such as email, streaming entertainment continues to grow at a rapid rate, which is blowing traditional viewing wide open.
With this set to continue, the possibilities are endless.
Digital Spy is launching a newsletter –sign upto get it sent straight to your inbox.