Netflix to end Kenyan free access plan after two years

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Netflix said on Monday it is ending its free mobile plan in Kenya, which has allowed users to access a quarter of its shows and movies without paying over the past two years.

It did not say how many subscribers it had added as a result of the scheme, designed to help recruit new paying users.

“We definitely learnt a lot from the test,” a Netflix spokesperson told Reuters, without giving details. “We are going to continue to offer a variety of other plans.”

Netflix is rolling out an advertisement-supported plan, offering subscribers a monthly plan at 4.99 pounds ($6.07), but the spokesperson did not comment on its availability in Kenya.

Although low middle-income economies like Kenya offer streaming services big opportunities for subscriber growth, they also pose challenges as purchasing power dwindles due to inflation, industry executives said.

Under the free plan, which will end on Nov. 1, viewers were able to watch Western-produced shows like “Money Heist” and “Bridgerton”, and African ones like “Blood & Water”.

Netflix has been commissioning more home-grown content from around Africa as part of its strategy to snag new subscribers on the continent. It has also been using partnerships with local telecom firms to simplify payments.

($1 = 0.8215 pounds)

(Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Aaron Ross and Alexander Smith)