Movies and more: Bharti’s Netflix tie-up shows entertainment is serious business

By: | Updated: August 28, 2018 6:00 AM

The country’s largest operator Bharti Airtel is building its arsenal to take on Reliance Jio, which currently has an edge in the entertainment segment.

Netflix currently has three monthly subscription packages — Rs 500 (basic), Rs 650 (standard) and Rs 850 (premium). (Reuters)

With competition in the telecom space moving to content, the country’s largest operator Bharti Airtel is building its arsenal to take on Reliance Jio, which currently has an edge in the entertainment segment. On Monday, the company entered into a pact with US-based Netflix under which select Airtel postpaid and V-Fiber home broadband plans will receive a three-month Netflix subscription for free.

Netflix currently has three monthly subscription packages — Rs 500 (basic), Rs 650 (standard) and Rs 850 (premium).

Though Airtel will disclose the plans eligible for this promotional offer shortly, sources said that in postpaid it could be the Rs 499-649 monthly packs which are quite popular and in broadband the Rs 1,000 monthly pack. This would be quite competitive since currently under Vodafone’s pact with Netflix, a two-month free offer is applicable only to the Rs 999 monthly postpaid plan.

Airtel said that after the three-month free offer is over, users will be able to pay for the subscription of Netflix as part of their postpaid mobile and broadband bills.

Further, Netflix and Airtel have also partnered to promote Netflix content and give Airtel TV users a taste of Netflix content through a dedicated row on the Airtel TV app.

Two years ago, Airtel had partnered with Netflix wherein it had introduced a hybrid set-top-box for its DTH services where apart from TV channels users could view Netflix content also. However, there was no promotional rate for such content.

Such telco-OTT pacts are increasingly becoming popular and turning into one-stop places for consumers to view all content as they then do not have to download the individual OTT apps. Even the OTT companies find dealing with telcos attractive, the reason being that telcos make it attractive to consumers to use their apps.

Telcos also act as an aggregator of content in their own apps and sometimes follow an app-in-app model. From the perspective of OTTs, telcos pay them a pre-decided fee; they get fast access to customers; and they do not have to advertise, as telcos spend on advertising.

Just last week, Airtel entered into a pact with Zee whereby the content of latter’s digital app, Zee5, will be exclusively available to Airtel TV users, and Zee will also make special, customised content for Airtel.

Netflix currently in India has around 14 million users, according to comScore data, which is higher than 7 million on Amazon’s Prime but lower than Hotstar’s 125 million and YouTube’s 255 million.

Out of the country’s total 1.13 billion mobile subscribers, around 300 million are users of smartphones who are big data consumers. The average time spent by these consumers on their mobile device on a daily basis currently is at 240 minutes, up from 190 minutes a year back. On an average, 7-10 GB of data are consumed per month by the consumers, which till a year back was only 800-900 MB, and roughly 20-30% subscribers reach their daily data limit every day. Around 76% of consumers use mobile data to watch videos.

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