Three weeks after it launched services in India, Netflix, the world’s largest on-demand video streaming service by volume of content, on Monday declined to give out its initial uptake in number of subscribers, even as the company said it was “super bullish” about the country.
“India is definitely one of the most enthusiastic markets, because of the number of trying it, through signing up through the free trial,” a senior executive told FE, while declining to give out the initial subscription numbers for India. “We are still on our first month.”
At end of December, Netflix had about 75 million subscribers, with 45 million in the United States, and 30 million across the world. This executive said the next set of subscribers numbers would be released in April, when the company announces its fiscal first quarter earnings.
Still, India subscriber numbers will not be given separately, but clubbed among its number of worldwide subscribers outside the United States, he said.
Netflix, launched its services in India on January 6, as part of its global expansion to 130 countries. India is a one of its key markets, given the fact that the country has become the world’s third-largest in terms of internet subscriptions, thanks to the falling prices of smart-phones and sliding prices for internet subscriptions.
Since launch almost three weeks ago, this executive said that Indians are consuming content similar to that of its worldwide subscribers, and the demand for its original content is higher than that of licensed content.
“People are watching Netflix originals, mainly the action and adventure, like black Jessica Jones, Dare Devil and Narcos, the history of cocaine, and Making a Murder documentary series about the criminal justice system in the US…” he said. “We also have a lot of Indian movies which are doing very well for us like Piku, Main Aur Charles. All the rows are personalised.”
As part of its focus on increasing content for India and from India, Netflix signed a deal to stream Brahman Naman, an Indian movie directed by Q, who had also directed Gandu, Tasher Desh, and Ludo.
The California-based company is also scouting for Indian content creators to make content available through its service. The company has budgeted overall $5 billion for creating content across the world, including in India.
“We’re are looking for stories that are great stories that will play up across the world. We are not budgeting for India, we are looking for Indian creators to work with, to create for all over the world,” this executive said. Currently, it is testing content on Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati and Punjabi.
Apart from content, Netflix is also tweaking its technology to cater to Indian market, where it faces issues such as slower broadband speeds. For instance, the company has created a “ complexitiy based encoding,” technology that compresses the high-density video files to be broadcast and web-streamed on low-broadband networks.
Moreover, it is also working on challenges including payments, different tastes of contents in a diverse country such as India, localisation front in term of language, and creating subtitles and dubbing in local languages and user interface for its services in the country, this executive said.
Netflix, which heightened the debate on net neutrality in the United States, is also maintaining its stand when it comes to the issue in India. “Our stand is the same everywhere in the world, which is that there should be unfettered access to broadband, and that there should be no favoritism of one service over another,” this executive added.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is currently weighing stakeholders opinions before finalising its views on net neutrality in India.