Netflix says India-specific mobile-only plan sees better uptake, retention than initial estimates

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Published: October 18, 2019 5:50:29 AM

A robust content licensing both in Hindi and other regional languages is in the pipeline, Monika Shergill, director, international originals at Netflix India, told FE in an interview last month.

Netflix, Netflix india, Netflix plans, Netflix  news, Netflix mobile plan, tech news, industry newsThe firm is also ramping up its slate of India originals.

Netflix on Wednesday said its India-specific mobile-only plan has so far seen better “uptake and retention” than initial estimates. The mobile programme, launched in July, is almost 60% cheaper than its basic plan for the market and is aimed at going mass in the country, analysts reckon. Fuelled by cheap data prices, about 550 million consumers in the country are expected to take to online video viewing by FY2023, according to a recent KPMG-Eros Now report — an opportunity too lucrative to overlook. Analysts at research firm Media Partners Asia estimate Netflix to have about a million subscribers in India. Local rival Hotstar had 300 million monthly active users (MAU) in June 2019, a RedSeer Consulting report showed.

“Our approach with pricing is to grow revenue,” the California-based firm said in a letter to shareholders after its Q3 2019 results. The firm believes that a favourable response to the mobile-only plan will allow it to “invest more in Indian content.”

Netflix has been building its India library — currently comprising over 10 regional languages (including Hindi.) A robust content licensing both in Hindi and other regional languages is in the pipeline, Monika Shergill, director, international originals at Netflix India, told FE in an interview last month. The firm is also ramping up its slate of India originals.

Its biggest property Sacred Games is estimated to have cost over Rs 10 crore per episode, said an analyst on condition of anonymity. “It is done for few flagship shows. An average show might cost about Rs 3 crore-4 crore per episode or lower,” the analyst said.

Analysts at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) estimate Netflix to have invested around $70 million-$80 million on India original content in 2017, albeit lower than $300 million invested by Hotstar. The mobile plan has broadened the platform’s reach which otherwise is heavily skewed towards metros and Tier 2 cities, Shergill claimed. The company’s India unit reportedly posted a net profit of Rs 20.2 lakh in the year to March 2018.

In the three months to September 2019, Netflix’s revenue increased by 31% year-on-year to $5.2 billion. Operating income doubled to $1.0 billion, the firm said. Netflix added 6.8 million paid subscribers globally, against the company’s forecast of 7 million. “As we’ve improved the variety, diversity and quality of our content slate, member engagement has grown, revenue has increased,” the firm said.

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