India has emerged as one of Netflix’s three largest mobile phone markets around the world, the video streaming service’s chief executive Reed Hastings said, adding that the US company wants to set up a full-fledged office here, invest in creating content and open up more payment platforms for consumers, as it steps up its presence in the country.
The company, which has 44 million of its 94 million global users in markets outside the US, wants to be the first to eliminate buffering while at the same time working on technology that enables content to stream on speeds of 100 kbps, especially for markets like India, the world’s fastest growing smartphone market, but one where network speeds are among the slowest in the world.
“India is hugely important for us in the long term, because it’s one of the strongest internet markets and internet TV is the future over the next 10-20 years, given that linear TV will decline in viewing eventually” Hastings, 56, also a co-founder at the company, told reporters here. He added that India had seen the highest growth among all Asian markets for the company’s streaming service.
“It’s a great opportunity to get in at the very beginning of internet TV, which will rise in India as phone networks as well as international players like YouTube and Netflix do more on the internet in India” said Hastings. “We want to be in the top five apps on the (consumer’s) phone,” he added.
Neflix on Monday announced that its service will now be available on the DTH platforms of Bharti Airtel and Videocon It has also tied up a carrier billing agreement with Vodafone India where the telco’s prepaid and post-paid subscribers will be able to pay for their subscriptions directly to the telco.
It also plans to tie up with telcos including Reliance Jio, as it seeks to reach out to India’s 300 million plus internet users. It also plans to enable new payment platforms in India including partnerships with mobile wallets.
The Netflix cofounder, on his first trip to India, managed to sneak out some time on Monday morning to take a guided tour bike ride through Old Delhi. He also plans to spend time in Delhi and Mumbai, meeting with content creators.
Netflix will set up its Mumbai office, its fourth in Asia, after Tokyo, Singapore and Taiwan. “Our Mumbai office will be as large as Tokyo in a few years,” said Hastings. The Tokyo office that opened two years ago has 50 people now.
The company will double the number of television series and movie titles globally on its app to about 880 by 2018, Hastings said, but will continue to be focused on the premium segment in terms of subscription pricing, even when it competes with the likes of HotStar and Amazon Prime Video that offer comparatively lower costing options with larger content libraries.
Hastings said that the company was adding local content, the latest being a tie up with Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment where his movies will be exclusive to Netflix for the next three years, and with Sacred Games, its first original series that will be in India in partnership with Phantom Films.
“In 2017, we’ll be working on making our Indian service better in every dimension. We are keen on bringing more locally-produced series and films to our member households globally,” said Hastings.
The Indian market has become a hotbed for content streaming companies over the last couple of years with Hotstar, Hook, Netflix, and now Amazon Prime, making their way here. A large majority of the market stream videos on mobile phones, instead of televisions, which is a norm in developed markets like the US or Europe.
According to App Annie which tracks app usage of video streaming platforms, Hotstar leads the Indian market with an active user base of 63 million subscribers, followed by Jio Play with 52 million users and Voot TV with 13 million users. Amazon Video had 9.4 million users in December, while Netflix had 4.9 million subscribers.
Hastings did not disclose the local investment the company will make. Amazon Prime Video has committed to invest around Rs 500 crore for creating local content and others like Hotstar, SonyLiv, Eros Now and Voot have budgets of under Rs 400 crore each, ET has previously reported.
Source: Times of India