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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Exclusive: Netflix announces changes to UAE prices

The change from dollar payments into dirhams will be the streaming service's first fees update since launch

Netflix has announced a change in their payment plans for UAE subscribers. Bloomberg 
Netflix has announced a change in their payment plans for UAE subscribers. Bloomberg 

Netflix has announced that it is to make alterations to its UAE pricing schedule, in line with its mission to “deliver a more local experience.”

The most noticeable change is that payment will now be taken in UAE dirhams, rather than US dollars, as has been the case since the streaming service launched in January 2016.

In terms of prices, subscribers will notice little difference, unless they are on the most expensive Premium, four-screen, service. Customers on the Basic, one-screen, subscription will now pay Dh29 per month, instead of $7.99 (Dh29), so will see no change at all. Customers who subscribe to the Standard, two-screen, level will now pay Dh39 instead of $9.99 (Dh37), so a minor increase.

Premium customers, meanwhile, will see their payment rise to Dh56 from $11.99 (Dh44), a 27 per cent increase, though still extremely favourable compared to rival services. The changes will take immediate effect, as individual customers' billing cycles come around.

This will be the first adjustment to Netflix's pricing structure locally since launch in 2016, and the streaming giant is keen to highlight its increasing commitment to the region as well as the new fee structure. Last year the service launched its very first Middle Eastern Original, a stand-up special featuring Lebanese comic Adel Karam, and earlier this month its first regional original drama, Jinn, began shooting in Jordan.

The streaming giant also notes that, in the two-and-a-half years since it launched in the region, the total amount of global content available to regional viewers has increased by 172 per cent, with over 100 new projects originating in 16 countries available to viewers in the region over the course of 2018. Among the most eagerly awaited new shows coming soon are Ozark S2 (August 31), Marvel’s Iron Fist S2 (September 7), and Narcos: Mexico (Q4, TBC).

Since 2016, Netflix has also launched a number of technical improvements to its service in the region, including watching pre-downloaded content offline; improved parental control; increased 4K, HDR and Dolby Atmos offerings, and its Mobile Previews service, which allows viewers to find, preview and watch content more quickly on their phone.

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Read more:

Netflix's debut Arabic original 'Jinn' begins shooting in Jordan

Netflix announces first 'ambitious' Arabic original series that 'could' shoot in the UAE

Netflix drama The Protector may effect change in Turkish TV

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Among Netlix’s most recent new services in the region are Smart Downloads for Android, which automatically deletes the last episode of a show you watched and downloads the next episode while you’re online, allowing for viewing offline later while keeping vital memory free.

Netflix Calibrated Mode, meanwhile, developed in partnership with Sony, allows Bravia TV viewers to watch Netflix’s content at the same calibration and resolution as the show’s creators watched it on their monitors in post-production. One for that limited subset of uber-geeks who happen to own a Sony Bravia TV, admittedly, but still fun to check out if you happen to fall into that very niche group.

Price changes will be taking place across the Gulf region, with the UAE and Saudi Arabia both switching into local currency. Viewers in Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait will continue to pay their monthly bills in dollars for the foreseeable future.

A Netflix spokesman told The National: “From time to time, Netflix plans and pricing are adjusted as we switch to local currencies, add more exclusive series, movies, documentaries, stand-ups, kids content, introduce new product features and improve the overall Netflix experience to help members find something great to watch even faster.”

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