Netflix is set to discontinue its free streaming offer in Kenya starting November 1st, 2023. The move comes as the platform faces mounting competition in Africa’s expanding streaming market.
In 2021, Netflix launched a free service option for Kenyan subscribers to capitalise on the country’s streaming growth. But with rivals like Showmax and DStv challenging its dominance, Netflix aims to boost revenue by transitioning users to paid plans.
The company emailed Kenyan free subscribers that their memberships would automatically be cancelled when the free offer expires on November 1st. It encouraged them to upgrade to paid plans “as low as Sh200 per month” to keep watching.
Previously, Netflix lowered costs in Kenya by 37% to attract more users. Ending free access signals a shift to monetise its subscriber base amid rising competition.
According to Netflix’s Head of Content for Kenya, Ben Amadasun, the platform entered Africa to engage with local stakeholders and identify collaboration opportunities. Amadasun said they aim to learn from each market’s creative ecosystem.
“We want to get to know a bit more about the industry – starting with the critical stakeholders like the Kenya Film Commission and others,” he noted.
Amadasun added that Netflix is still early in its Africa journey and wants to be top of mind for African creators. He said they are exploring skills development and capacity building to nurture talent pipelines.
Netflix sees major room for expansion in Africa, driven by the growing middle class and improving internet access. Its initial free service aimed to gain users before transitioning them to paid plans with more local content.
Kenya’s shift away from free signals a revenue focus as competition intensifies. Netflix may expand into more African markets, forge partnerships, invest in infrastructure, and adapt pricing to thrive.
Its ability to innovate will determine success in capturing Africa’s blossoming streaming industry. But ending free access also risks alienating price-sensitive Kenyan subscribers.
Netflix must balance revenue with affordability to keep Kenyans streaming. While competition is heating up, Netflix’s reputation and local content could retain users willing to pay. But content alone may not justify costs for lower-income subscribers drawn to free offers.
As streaming evolves in Africa, Netflix’s next moves will shape its competitive position. Its Kenya free service exit hints at a commercial strategy focused on converting free users rather than acquisition alone. How this impacts uptake and perception will become clear as regional rivals continue vying for streaming dominance.