first_img“India is hugely important for Netflix in the long term because it’s one of the strongest Internet markets (in the world) and Internet TV is the future,” company co-founder and chief executive Reed Hastings said while speaking with reporters here in the national capital. Hastings, who is on his maiden trip to India, reiterated that Netflix is taking India very seriously, and that Reliance Jio has a lot to do with its (current) success rate in the country.Also Read: Netflix plays big on India, offers OTT via top d2h, mobile platforms “We’re seeing Internet data costs — from 20 years ago to now — continuing to drop. Of course with Reliance Jio, no one has (d) ever seen a free mobile network that cost 20 billion dollars to build. It’s one of the more extraordinary things anywhere in the world. We are excited to be part of that because the viewing of our shows has gone up a lot on the Jio network.”India is a land of immense opportunity for NetflixThe next 10 to 20 years around the world will be a time of great change with the expansion of Internet TV, according to Hastings. India would be a critical market “because there are (already) over 300 million mobile broadband users here” and each one of them is a potential subscriber. For your reference, Netflix currently has just over 94 million subscribers globally and nearly 40 million is based outside the US.”India is one of the top three markets for Netflix in terms of mobile usage. In fact, it’s stronger than all of the other Asian nations.”advertisementNetflix started off (in India) almost a year ago with its cult international originals Narcos and Orange is the New Black. They’ve been very popular in India even as the online video streaming service continues to expand and add local content. “Our titles have now doubled from when we started a year ago and we are going to double that again next year,” Hastings added.Clearly, Netflix is here for the long term which is why it’s opening an office in India’s entertainment capital Mumbai On Monday, Netflix announced strategic partnerships with three major companies — Airtel, Videocon d2h and Vodafone — in India to make its content easily accessible to consumers across direct-to-home and mobile platforms throughout the country. “We’re focused on the set-top box with them (Airtel and Videocon d2h) on integrating our app so that the device attached to the TV has Netflix on it so they can stream directly to the TV. In the case of Vodafone, it’s a mobile partnership for pre-paid customers who will be able to pay for their Netflix subscriptions via their monthly bill.”In a bid to make Netflix easily available to subscribers (wherever Internet is available) the company is open to more partnerships which is why “we will not be exclusive to Airtel, Videocon d2h and Vodafone.””You’ll see us do more partnerships both with mobile and STBs to make it easier (to reach out to us). Particularly on the billing side, as you know, the online payments platform is something that is emerging very rapidly. Now there are a lot of new alternatives coming so we are participating in all of that,” Hastings explained.Netflix is expensive for a reasonSpeaking of which, Netflix is still quite expensive a service when compared with rival platforms like the recently launched Amazon Prime and India’s go-to service for live sports, that is, Hotstar. Prices start at Rs 500 for basic and go all the way to Rs 800 for its premium package that lets you simultaneously watch content on as many as four different screens. And that’s Rs 500/Rs 800 every month post the free one month trial period. “We are aware that if we’re going to get to all the 300 million mobile users (in India) then we will have to figure out some other payment plans, weekly and things like that.”It’s not happening anytime soon though. “For the top 10 per cent, however, we think that our current model is working very well. We’ve seen strong growth and our main focus is adding more content. We really want to be a content solution where you can get almost all that you want to view in one place. We are really focused on improving the content over the next several years rather than changing the prices. Eventually, in the long run, when the Internet matures and more people come online then we may look at other things,” he added.advertisementBut, the company is open to exploring new payments platforms. “With demonetisation, there has been a rapid acceleration (in stuff like mobile payments) so we are looking at seeing who’s emerging as the new payments platform that’s great for us to work with,” Hastings said.Clearly, Netflix is here for the long term which is why it’s opening an office in India’s entertainment capital Mumbai. “We’ve been really investing out of our Singapore office and Los Angeles and in the near future as soon as we can get all the permits we’ll open our office in Mumbai. So there will be job openings soon.” Over the course of several years, it is looking to hire as many as 50 people, although Hastings did not divulge further details.A number of initiatives launched by Netflix, in recent times, seem to indicate that the company isn’t just focusing on offering premium content, but it is also working on the technology side of things so more people — especially in emerging markets like India — can access it without being overburdened by hefty data charges.”In MWC we announced new video formats. Streaming to a mobile phone it took one and a half megabits and then over the years, we’ve improved that to one megabit to half a megabit which is 500 kilobits. We are now down to 200 kilobits. We announced that we’re working on 100 kilobits.”At the current 200 kilobits rate, “you get a great picture on a 4 or 5-inch screen and you can watch 25 hours of content in 1GB data. So, it doesn’t eat up your whole data plan.”Also, Netflix has implemented downloading very similar to YouTube, so subscribers can simply click on the titles and download them on Wi-Fi and then watch them offline later.Netflix is just one part of the puzzleIn spite of all the interest and all the potential, Netflix is (still) and will only focus on what it does best: movies and TV shows. Which is why it would never venture into live sports.”What’s unique about Netflix is that that we’ve got these international originals combined with great local talent. We are very happy of course to be partnered with Shah Rukh Khan; his next three years of movies will be exclusive on Netflix. We’ve got Sacred Games coming and the great thing about it is that we think that it would be very popular in India but also around the world. We want to make that franchise a great global success like Narcos in a way.”Also Read: Airtel provides fastest internet in India, but barely: Netflix data Amazon Prime and Hotstar are equally awesome if not better, according to Hastings. “It’s not like a mobile phone where you chose one or the other network. There’s content on many of these services. We want to be so strong that we are in the top five so that we are one of those apps on your phone.”Netflix’s special positioning is really around the premium content. For everything else, there’s Amazon Prime and Hotstar.advertisementlast_img

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