It’s been more than six months since global online streaming service Netflix launched in India. It hasn’t been as impactful as one would expect it to be. So far, the only big announcement on the content front that came from the streaming service was its tie-up with production house Phantom Films to produce its first original series in India, based on novelist Vikram Chandra’s ‘Sacred Games.’ But Netflix with 83 million members looks optimistic about its journey and looking to move past all its hurdles.
“It’s early days in India and there's still much to learn and discover so that we can keep making the Netflix experience better. We are pleased with how consumers in India are discovering Netflix. They like that we are a flat-fee unlimited viewing commercial-free experience, can cancel anytime without commitments,” said a spokesperson from Netflix.
While early adopters of Netflix are consumers who are digitally-connected, as it grows, the online streaming service is starting to build this momentum into its customer base through deeper local insights.
Netflix is constantly learning from what its members in India love watching; to make that content and experience better. In 2016, the online subscription service company expects to spend close to US$5 billion on content, with over 600 hours of global original content.
“We are also spending $800 million on technology and development in 2016. We believe that delivering a great Netflix experience is just as important as creating great content. We’ve spent several years figuring out how to optimize bandwidth usage while delivering the same or better picture quality. This means our videos use less bandwidth, particularly important in countries with connectivity challenges and on mobile networks. We recently introduced a new mobile data saver tool to help members better control how much data they use when streaming on cellular networks. We will continue to drive constant innovation to ensure our users get an entertainment experience they love,” the spokesperson added.
On the local content front, Netflix is pursuing recent Bollywood titles, notable indie films, classic Bollywood titles and the best of regional cinema (Tamil, Gujarati, Punjabi and Marathi). Its goal is to bring Indian cinema to not only all regions of India but to the world where Netflix exists, accessible to over 81 million members. For example, ‘Brahman Naman’, a coming-of-age comedy by celebrated Indian director Q, is now available globally only on Netflix and has seen great reviews in its early days. Coming up, ‘Raman Raghav 2.0’ is among the titles, which was picked up at Cannes this year as an exclusive on Netflix. ‘Sacred Games’ is Netflix first original series from India, which will be produced in partnership with Phantom Films.
Speaking about the spurt of online streaming services in the entertainment segment, the Netflix spokesperson said, “We’re focused on making our service better - better personalization, better streaming, better movies and TV shows. It’s up to us to win the moments when people decide what to do with their time. While competition will grow, we intend to continue being the industry leader.”
Right now users in India are already billed in Indian currency and they can pay with an international credit card via Netflix, through the iTunes app store and via PayPal. Over time, it aims to add local payment options around the world.
Netflix recently released its first social media campaign #LifeWithoutNetflix. This was created primarily to share with its users the stories they can find on its service. So far, the audience engagement has been good, and it looks forward to building communities within the Indian audience to help them discover content they will love and better understand what they want in an entertainment experience.