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Netflix here, but can we chill

Published : Jan 11, 2016, 4:57 am IST
Updated : Jan 11, 2016, 4:57 am IST

Streaming media giant Netflix’s launch in India was received with a bang on social media.


Streaming media giant Netflix’s launch in India was received with a bang on social media. But for a country that loves torrents that are free to download and save the pain of buffering videos on a bad internet connection, Netflix’s success rate in India will be determined by multiple factors.

Even before it was launched in the country, Netflix's own production content, including "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black" have had a strong viewer base in the country. In fact, India was in the list of top three countries that had maximum downloads for pirated versions of political drama "House of Cards" after its season three hit torrent services, according to piracy-tracking firm Excipio. This was in March 2015, even before the anticipation of Netflix’s launch in the country.

Consumer habits in the country will be another parameter to determine Netflix's success rate in India. A consumer entertainment survey report by ARRIS Enterprises for Asia-Pacific region in 2015 said that Indians are most likely to binge-view, with 27 percent confirming that they watch multiple episodes in one sitting every day. The average time an Indian viewer spent binge-viewing per day is 2.8 hours, according to the report.

However, 78 per cent of downloading consumers in the report said it’s important to be able to download content to a device so they can watch it on the go without an internet connection, rather than having to rely on cellular connections to stream.

The most popular method of binge-viewing, according to the consumers of the report, is through a downloading catch-up service for free said 36 per cent consumers, followed by free streamed content for 34 per cent of them.

Indian equivalents of Netflix—despite their excitement for the launch a global player in the country—expressed pricing and less relevant content as possible deterrents for Netflix consumers.

Siddhartha Roy, CEO Hungama, said, “We are thrilled at the launch of a global player like Netflix, as it will increase awareness of video streaming as a service among Indian consumers." But at the same time Rs 500 for a month is not something Indian consumers would willingly pay, he said.

Netflix’s High Definition content package starts at Rs 650 a month. Hungama starts its basic package at Rs 249 a month across devices.

For Netflix HD streaming, the website says it will take 5.0 Mbps (Megabits per second) internet speed. However, India’s average internet speed, according to a study conducted by content delivery network Akamai Technologies in March 2015 was 2.3 Mbps.

Roy also said that Netflix will need to focus on its content and tailor it to suit the Indian consumers who are big on local and regional content.

Absence of models, such as, weekly packs and pay-per-view can also be a deterrent for Indian consumers to opt for Netflix service.

On demand TV service provider Lukup Media that provides, streaming, downloading and recording of digital content from TV channels also gives users the option to pay-per-view. Kallol Borah, CEO of Lukup Media says Netflix’s dependency to stream on broadband internet will be a limitation, similar to what Lukup Media’s initial product faced.

Location: India, Karnataka, Bengaluru