It’s not just cable TV companies that need to worry about the world’s largest video-streaming company Netflix entering India, but also production houses in Bollywood.
The US-based company, which has over 7.5 crore subscribers worldwide, wants to make inroads into the India market by going local in every possible way, and that includes producing Bollywood movies. “We hope to produce the best Bollywood movie that’s ever been produced. Today, I know that may seem impossible. But there was a time when we couldn’t even produce a US TV series, and now we have some of the best,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told BusinessLine.
Netflix began operations in India in January, but its offerings of local content, in Hindi and other Indian languages, have been weak. Hastings said that would soon change as the company looks to producing its own Indian series or even a movie.
“We are talking to multiple production houses who are willing to work with us for a Netflix original Indian series,” said Hastings, whose sister is married to an Indian. Last month, at the Sundance film festival, Hastings was so impressed with the low-budget Brahman Naman that he decided to buy the global rights for the movie, directed by Kolkata-based Quashiq Mukherjee and featureing Vijay Mallya’s son Siddharth.
Netflix’s localising strategy includes differential pricing of offerings.
“In India, we are trying to learn more about the market. We have differential pricing already in markets that we have localised in, such as Brazil. We don’t think of India as a localised content at the moment because we don’t have local billing, local languages, etc. But once we get there, we will have differential pricing for India,” Hastings said.
Netflix service starts at $8 a month in the US. In Brazil, it costs less than $5 a month. In India, Netflix comes at ₹500-800 a month, which is quite high compared to cable TV pricing.
In addition to the pricing disadvantage and the lack of local content, Netflix also faces competition from several leading networks such as Star India’s Hotstar, Sony Liv, Zee Enterprises’ dittoTV and Eros International’s ErosNow.
These players have established digital platforms and are now creating exclusive content.
“I agree that our business is impacted when broadcasters and production houses start offering their own streaming service separately, but I think there is room for everybody,” Hastings said