Netflix spends big on India in battle for viewers
Netflix’s Reed Hastings is making a big bet on the world’s second most populous nation as he battles to retain his title as King of Streaming.
Hastings on Friday said Netflix is on track to spend $420 million on original and licensed content in Indian this year and next as part of the company’s plan to add 100 million subscribers from that country.
The 59-year-old executive behind hits like “Orange is the New Black” and “Stranger Things” made the comments Friday at a New Delhi conference organized by the Hindustan Times newspaper, where he predicted that his rivals will also be making a big play for viewers in the land of Bollywood.
“The next five to ten years will be the golden age of television,” Hastings said. “You are seeing unbelievable and unrivaled levels of investment, partially from the global companies like Apple, Amazon, Disney and Viacom. There are all investing here in India as well as in the UK and the US. We are seeing more content made than ever before. It’s a great export.”
Netflix entered the Indian market, known for its bustling entertainment industry, in 2016. Last year he explained that he thinks Netflix’s next 100 million subscribers will come from the country.
Netflix currently boasts 158 million subscribers, including 60 million from the US. The content its been making for India includes “Sacred Games,” an original crime thriller based in Dehli, and the kids’ animated show, “Mighty Little Bheem.”
On Friday, Hastings said “Mighty Little Bheem,” about a toddler who finds adventure in a small Indian town, has also become a hit outside India with 27 million viewers from other countries.
According to a recent report from research firm Comscore, there’s plenty of room for streamers to grow in India despite the flood of competition from local streamers as well as US giants like Amazon and Disney. Comscore cited February 2019 data that showed that India viewers are more likely to jump between services, which tend to be cheaper there.
Netflix, for example, offers a mobile-only service in India for $2.88-a-month. And Hotstar, India’s biggest streaming service, now owned by Disney, charges just $14.50 a year.
“Unlike other countries, there’s likely room for as many as half-a-dozen video streaming players to dominate a market that already has fifteen players fighting for market share,” said Comscore regional marketing manager Alex Gevers.
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