Introduction in India
Global to local would seem to be Netflix’s primary strategy for expanding to India. ‘Netflix and Chill’ is a popular term across the OTT ecosystem, but in comparison to users in other markets, the number of Indian consumers chilling with Netflix’s high-quality content are few. However, Netflix has adapted to the Indian tastes and has modified its line-up of pure international content.
In India, Netflix was launched in January 2016 and has created a niche for the English-speaking audience in the country for high-quality TV series and Hollywood movie content. But is far behind other OTT players in terms of subscribers. According to the Counterpoint Technology Market Research report, it was the fifth-biggest player in India, behind players like Hotstar, Voot and Amazon.
After having spent two years in India, however, things weren’t looking as good for the company as they were in the US. On average, India’s consumer was spending around $32 (near Rs2200) per year on entertainment, while people in the US spent about $2260 annually, according to a report by PWC.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings believed that the global level of the amount an Indian customer paid for cable services was very low, thus keeping the industry smaller than it should be. He had said, while speaking at an event, that the strategy of Netflix was to build local and global content. While he acknowledged that the prices for Netflix were higher than cable TV, they were substantially lower than tickets for movies and other entertainment experiences.
Netflix’s Primary Strategy
Netflix has made significant progress when it comes to adding regional content, but it still has a lot to cover. Until 2018, it had concentrated on bringing its global content to Indian viewers like Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards, Master of None, Stranger Things, Narcos and Daredevil.
But how has Netflix aimed to break the ice? The answer- local content. Which is why, instead of price, Hastings says that Netflix needs to be sensitive too, and willing to invest in great local stories and content. Therefore, the plan is to build up local content that includes regional stories.
PwC partner & leader, media & entertainment Frank D’Souza comments that “The country-wide growth of smartphone and internet penetration has created a wide range of opportunities for OTT players. The focus should be placed on creating and producing regional content, given that India is a multilingual country”.
The dominance of regional content over the dissected Indian viewers has been realized by OTT platforms. One of the first to take the plunge was Amazon Prime, followed by Zee5, Hotstar, ALTBalaji, Voot, Viu etc.
Spicing Up the Content
Keeping all this in mind, Netflix released several original Indian productions that became a huge success — Ghoul, Leila, Crocodile, Sacred Games, Selection Day, Again, and Bard of Blood. On Valentine’s Day 2018, Netflix also released its first India original ‘Love Per Square Foot’, produced by Ronnie Screwvala.
Netflix has yet another interesting feature, which is, sharing the subscription package among multiple individuals. Netflix, depending on the package you go for, allows two to four simultaneous streams per account, and charges more for the larger number of streams. This makes Netflix an option that students usually go for since they can purchase a premium account and get multiple streams while distributing the billing amount amongst themselves.
Considering the growth of Smartphone users and internet users in India, Netflix also came up with a new mobile plan for just Rs199 for a month. This was directly aimed towards the population that simply used their phones as a medium for entertainment.
What’s in Store for the Future?
Netflix is betting on product over price by focusing on creating more local content for India. As a part of its future strategies, it has decided to create more movies, and TV shows that Indians will immediately hop onto, while also keeping in mind the various languages.
By Prajal Narain