Namaste, Netflix

Netflix finally arrived in India last week, for the uninitiated Netflix is an OTT content service provider. The prime reason for Netflix’s popularity is the cheap pricing which is just around 8.99 USD (567 INR), and it can be streamed in two-four devices directly.

Let us look at how Netflix will fare in India. Many people say that India is a price sensitive country, which I feel is false, when you have majority of the nation living under less than 1 USD a day, it is but natural that people will spend according to their purchasing power. It is ridiculous to compare a third world nation with first world nation’s spending capacity.

If you look at USA, the price of cable is exorbitant, where the monthly bill goes to around 100 USD (6300 INR), and you can only use one screen. Now let us compare this to India, where DTH is yet to cover majority of the Nation. Cable is still the primary source of entertainment and majority households still have one TV. In case of cable TV, you do not even have to take permission to use two screens.

Pricing– The pricing for cable channel is as low as minimum 80 rupees/month which is not more than 1 USD 20 cents. Every cable operator offers more than 200 channels, along with local cable channels. These local cable channels screen new Bollywood/Tollywood/Kollywood movies (depending upon location) within the first or second week of its release, which is a major attraction for the consumers.

Even in DTH, if you pay 300-500 INR you will get more than 500 channels minimum, this includes sports channels. If you look carefully cable is still an attractive option for many Indians and it will be so for the next 15- 20 Years.

Netflix in India

Catalogue– One peculiar or unique thing about India is we are multi-lingual unlike USA. In my house, we watch Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, English & Bengali channels. Let me put it mildly the catalogue of Netflix at present is not really impressive, barring documentaries and Netflix originals. The problem is most of the content is in English, you have to keep in mind the fact even in case of so called Hollywood blockbusters which have done well in India, a majority of the revenue comes from dubbed versions.

The slate of Hindi movies which they currently have is dismal and regional cinema I only found Fandry and surprised to see no Tamil or Telugu movies, which form are major film consumption choices in India.

I even failed to find Korean movies like Old Boy, which is strange considering the demand and influence of Korean films in North East India is huge.

If they are targeting the English speaking audience who watches serials on torrents, why would I switch off from torrent to Netflix where my data consumption is less and I can watch it over again and again with no tension of data usage?

Data Consumption– In India, ARPU for mobile is still on the lower side, we are a Nation where most people browse net on mobile. Now the problem is that Netflix consumes data, an SD video consumes up to 700 MB in an hour, and yours truly has already become a victim, in the last 4 days 20 GB data has been consumed.  Netflix at present does not have any plan to tweak or change the way it works so that less data can be consumed. In a country where data costs are huge, this will be one of the reason where Netflix will not win many consumers, unless they are using Wi-Fi from office.

Offline -YouTube recognised this and offered offline services, which is a boon for Indians. I usually take 90 minutes to commute to the office, what I usually do is buffer or download Video from Home, so I can watch the content while travelling. Thanks to erratic 3G network while travelling it is impossible to watch anything online.

Binge Watching– One USP of Netflix is you can binge watch your favourite serials. Now if you switch to any channel be it Hindi GEC or English GEC, most of these channels on weekends broadcast all episodes of serials on weekends.

Censorship– Netflix at present I feel is not serious about India like Amazon or Starbucks. We are just one Nation among 129 others, which is strange considering the market potential that we have. Of course in the coming days they will have to face and modify programme according to censor diktats, wait till TV channels start to lobby with Indian government to pressurise Netflix to submit all programmes for censorship.

Payment Mode– Netflix assumes most of Indians own credit cards, which is strange considering as even Amazon India offers COD. If Netflix has to reach out to maximum audience it has to offer various mode of payments which includes credit card, debit card, net banking and also like Cable operators wherein an agent comes and collect the monthly fees.

Torrent– What people forget about the reasons for people downloading torrents is one simple reason, the availability of good quality content at the right time at the comfort of home at the right price. In case of Netflix, the consumer has to pay high speed internet charges, which means a consumer has to pay 2000 INR minimum every month which makes Netflix not the first choice for Indians.

Netflix India can only succeed if A- they keep the right price for the content, B- If a consumer can consume more content within less data C- The catalogue has to be more India oriented, which means producing original Netflix content for Indian audiences.

Otherwise Netflix India will struggle to find a foothold in India, I feel at present they are just testing waters and China is what they think will be a goldmine for them. They can ignore India at their own peril, which has the World’s largest film industry. It is a market they cannot afford to miss to capture.


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