The digital world has been abuzz with Netflix ever since its launch in India and other 129 countries on January 6, 2016. The broadcasting channels have also taken a note and going extra mile to get global content for their viewers. For instance, Colors Infinity channel showcased new show like ‘Mad Dogs’ alongside US couple of weeks back and even premiered the latest episode of ‘Suits’ in India ahead of US.
Every publishing house and digital agency has expressed their opinion on the hurdles lying ahead of Netflix’s journey in India; including its content strategy, India’s broadband issue and its impact in India’s nascent OTT space. From the looks of it, content is definitely an important area where Netflix needs to up the ante in order to grow its fan base and market share in India.
Competition, catalogue and cost...
According to media reports, Netflix’s library offered to its Indian audiences is limited (7 per cent of its US library). While Netflix is showcasing its popular original shows as ‘Master of None’, ‘Narcos’ and Marvel's ‘Jessica Jones’, it is not streaming those which have already been licensed to local players. For example, the award-winning Kevin Spacey starrer ‘House of Cards’ is not part of its India catalogue because its rights for India distribution have been sold to Zee TV network.
Other glaring omissions seem to be popular series like ‘Friends’, ‘How I Met Your Mother’, ‘Supernaturals’ and ‘Two and a Half Men.’ Netflix till now has about 18.8 per cent of titles (from IMDb’s top English series and top Hollywood films). It needs to be seen how quickly it is able to bid for titles that are part of its global catalogue and add them to its India’s library.
In this segment Netflix faces competition from Hooq, Eros Now and Wynk, which offer services at a lower cost. For instance, Hook, which is priced at Rs199 plus tax per month, is a joint venture between SingTel, Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros, having over 30,000 titles with new ones added on a regular basis.
Wynk on the other hand is collaboration between Airtel and various streaming services including Hooq, Eros Now and Sony LIV. The content available is huge and even includes some movies that are exclusively free for Airtel users. For paid plans, individual packages for Eros Now, Hooq or Sony LIV are available, priced between Rs 5 per day and Rs 199 per month. Then there is Eros Now which charges Rs 99 per month for unlimited movies, TV Shows, music and even offers HD streaming.
Importance of local content...
The percentage of locally-sourced content is extremely small with few recent releases (like ‘Piku’ and ‘O Kadhal Kanmani’) and no TV shows. Bollywood aficionados may not right away go for Netflix, which currently has about 3% of the top 100 Bollywood movies (from
IMDb’s top Bollywood films). While its competitors, the likes of Spuul and Hooq have racked up 25.3% and 21.2% respectively of content present from the same title list.
This will hopefully change over time. For instance, in December, it streamed a specially-edited six-part version of popular Indian crime film ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’. From this angle its competitors are Sony LIV and Hotstar, who offer their viewers the latest episodes of various local and international television shows, a good number of movies and cricket matches at no cost.
In India in terms of original programming, Hotstar has handy content from popular comedy collective AIB, which has hit off well with urban audience (also Netflix’s target audience). Similar expectations are from Netflix, given its acclaimed original shows like ‘Orange is the New Black’, to fund and produce in India, thereby giving Indian users their money’s worth. Clearly that will take time as Netflix has pointed out that currently they are focussed on sharing global titles.