India is poised as an opportune land for global tech giants. With her huge population – which was once a challenge and now an opportunity – the country has become ground zero for multinationals to heavily invest in eastern markets.
In the last couple of weeks, Free Basics from Facebook was much in debate with Yes – No tug of war as many netizens favored it while many others have shown implacable hatred for Free Basics. Even as Facebook is fumbling for foothold in India, Netflix, a top-notch video streaming service provider, is successful in getting the nod from India's government.
Netflix in India: Content & Competition to Pose a Greater Challenge
But it's not going to be a cakewalk for Netflix as the company has to face many challenges head-on. On the surface, the picture is rosy, but understanding consumers in India is a tough nut to crack.
First off, content would be the biggest hurdle Netflix has to overcome. As of now, the streaming service has limited content for Indian viewers, though gradually content will be added to its catalogue. Netflix has to add some muscle to TV shows as against its movie library, which has got a reasonable size with films like Piku, Lootera, Heropanti, Youngistaaan; for Generation X, the library boasts Andaaz Apna Apna, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Shor In The City. This movie list doesn’t show any recent release and the library of India-centric content is limited. On the brighter side, Netflix has a rich inventory of Hollywood movies, TV shows from different studios and broadcasters.
About the censorship on content, Netflix (and adult viewers from India) would enjoy uncensored International content in the Indian app; this won't be a permanent feature though, as broadcasters will have to water down the visuals and language.
Bandwidth: Boom or Bust?
Internet penetration has been increased day by day in India but speed has always remained an issue for net users. Indian mobile companies are talking about 4G, however, the fact is that net users are not happy with 3G services of operators. This clearly shows that watching global content on small screens will be a daunting task for Indian users. On larger screens, consumers may use 0.5 to 1 Mbps Wi-fi connection and stream content from Netflix to their laptops or television sets, which should be connected via Android box or Apple TV or MHL or HDMI cable. Buffering may take some 30 odd seconds and then it will be a smooth sailing. The picture quality may get blurred for couple of seconds, but it will be restored within seconds.
It is a given that sophisticated class of India would certainly appreciate the content catered on Netflix currently. But this way, Netflix has to compromise on a larger chunk of viewers, who inhabit in rural India. With completely Indianized milieu in its content, Netflix may lure rural folks to subscribe to its services. The service has to quickly supply quality content to a robust Hindi belt and other regions of India.
Netflix Competitors in India
Indian consumer has always shown ambivalent attitude towards new things. Netflix will not get any special treatment here. However, entertainment industry has never seen loyal viewers as we have seen that viewers' mood oscillated, thereby fluctuation in TRPs time and again. Currently, TV and movie buffs in India are watching Hooq, BoxTV, Ogle, Google’s Movies and TV app, Hotstar and others. Netflix has to make a solid dent in this network. Prices will also play a crucial role here as these services offer content at monthly charges that range between Rs 199/- and Rs 300/-. However, Netflix has an edge over these services as none of the above creates exclusive content; also not all services are able to offer seamless streaming on all four screens: smartphones, tablets, laptops and televisions. A real competition may come from Hulu, Showtime and HBO Now, which may follow suit and enter the Indian market.
Compared to the current prices of existing streaming services, Netflix could be seen as a costlier option for many viewers except India’s upper echelons, who don’t mind shelling out 500 to 800 bucks per month. Netflix has divided its plans in three sets: Basic, Standard and Premium. First plan, which allows streaming in Standard Definition, incurs the cost of Rs 500/- per month; second one gives High Definition option and costs INR 650/- per month and the last one offers Ultra HD (4K) content at the monthly expense of INR 800/-.
Let's see how Netflix makes a dazzling show among the razzmatazz of Indian online and offline imbroglio. Digital India is ready to welcome everything that can elevate the lifestyle of Indian consumers. Now the ball is in court of Netflix – India is all eyes how this streaming service provider plays the game.