The American video streaming giant ‘Netflix’, which captures 20% of the video streaming sector in the European and American Market, has now entered India and also to another 130 countries. The announcement was made at Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2016 in Las Vegas. This is good news for the fans that have been following the website, waiting for it or even using VPNs to get through it.
What’s on the table?
The company is offering one month free streaming which can be used just by registering on the website. After the first month, the website will ask you to pay for continuing the services and the prices start from Rs 500/month for normal streaming, Rs 650 for 720p-1080p and Rs 800 for the Ultra HD and HD streaming. While in US Netflix offers three plans: Basic, Standard and Premium. Where basic is $7.99/month (~Rs 530), standard is $9.99/month (~Rs 662) and premium as $11.99/month (~Rs 794). There’s not much difference in prices but a lot of difference in the content.
People are excited on the launch of the video streaming website however, the Indian version for now, has several popular shows missing from it. Also, the censor board might not approve everything that the company wants to post.
The biggest problem is the bandwidth in India. Particularly for streaming on mobile devices, due to the lack of availability of 4G, even if the users are able to access 4G or high speed internet, the rates don’t allow them to stream in HD. The data consumption in streaming high quality videos is like a lot and also, the speed is not constant.
Bandwidth is expensive in India, the fact cannot be denied. A 2mbps connection in the country ranges between Rs 1500-2000 a month, the rates can go low if the user is willing to restrict the data limit. For 3G networks the rates would go much higher, even after paying a sum like that, the user is not able to experience a constant speed. The speed would variate in a zig-zag graph, sometimes it might be as good as 5mbps and sometimes it even goes as low as 50 kbps.
What are Existing Players Saying?
In the context of Netflix entering India, Uday Sodhi, Executive Vice President and Head of Digital Business at Sony Entertainment Television, said, “It’s great for the digital entertainment business, hope this will improve the overall market. Not too many people can use VPNs and are not that tech savvy. ”
When asked about the threats Netflix will pose on the local players, he said that “I think there’s room for everybody, the market is big. We are still at a very nascent, we still don’t have enough bandwidth in terms of 4G and we don’t have established digital payments as yet. Our market is still at a very early stage, that’s why players like Sony, Star, Netflix are investing in this sector.”
Talking to Spuul founder Subin Subaiah on Netflix starting its services in India, he stated that Netflix entering India is a good news and must be taken in a good sense.
He added “The Indian market is fragile, it might change the complete scenario of how people see and consume content. There is a paradigm shift in the production and consumption of content in India, Netflix might act as a catalyst to boost the users from traditional broadcast media to digital media.”
Also, he went on record saying that Spuul is a result of his inspiration from Netflix and its work in Europe & US.
Talking on the Indian market and what will be the impact of Netflix in India, nexGTv’s COO- Abhesh Verma said, “There number of precedents to show why India is unlike any other typical market, since some of the biggest brands have been humbled here. They’ve had to learn and adapt in order to become and stay relevant for the Indian consumer and coexist with indigenous, home-grown players. The mobile TV market is evolving rapidly not just because of growing video consumption, smartphone penetration, lower-data costs but also owing to rapid strides in technology and the entry of newer players. It’s an exciting time to be in this market and witness the growth and validation of our subscription-led business model by global players.”
Uday Reddy, CEO and Founder at YuPPTV, said “Indian market will now be more inclined towards streaming services and if good content is provided at a reasonable price point, the audience behaviour might shift from pirated content to streaming services.”
Talking on the threat that the local market will face, as Netflix plans to expand more in the regional sector, Reddy said “The regional video on demand content available in the market is very limited and the majority of the regional premium content is still with the satellite channels. Secondly, many production houses are choosing to go direct to consumer. Nevertheless, Netflix being the largest player in the global market definitely has an upper hand over the smaller OTT players.
One of the drawbacks of Netflix is that it does not have any original Indian content just yet, though it might follow the steps of Hotstar and go on with something like ‘On Air with AIB’.
There is no replacement for a Netflix fan, but it might face some serious competition in the digital platform from established players like Airtel (Wynk Movies), Hotstar, Bigflix (Reliance), Sony Entertainment, Yupptv (In the South Indian Market) etc.
There are already more than 62 million users of Netflix in 50 countries and Asia expansion might give them a much needed boost to compete with current services and increase its user database.
What’s that noise all about?
Availability of torrents is the biggest factor why Netflix might fail. Do to low Internet speeds, people might prefer downloading over streaming.
Also, due to wide spread video piracy, people might be apprehensive in even paying a sum of Rs 500/month to watch movies that are available either on youtube or some other video streaming website? However, due to the restrictions imposed by the Indian government, many torrent websites, video streaming sections were put to an end by the government. When it comes to free data vs the government, the free data agitators have always been there ready with the tech to impose proxy websites. Nonetheless, premium users would be willing to shell out a convenience fee if Netflix increases its content library.
Even the popular TV channels in India are showcasing their content for free on websites like Youtube, a show broadcasted today on television will be available on its youtube channel in a matter of of a short period. The Indian population is seeing a switch from broadcast media to digital media.
A majority of Netflix’s content is in English, if we have a look at the statistical data in India then even though 20% of the population is connected, only 10.35% speak English. The top 10 shows with the highest TRP in the country, don’t even have an english show on the list.
How many people will actually use Netflix remains a question now. Would it be able to scale itself and change the entertainment industry in India like it did in the West? Or would sites like Youtube still prevail and dominate the multi-lingual country?