Netflix CEO shares business strategy for India’s on-demand entertainment segment

  • “Netflix will be as Indian as it can get. But we won’t be out and out Bollywood as we’ll not be differentially great at it.
  • We came to India first and didn’t go to China because China is not offering licences easily. Besides, internet infrastructure in India is becoming better.
  • In India, Netflix will be expensive than the cable, so our target audience will be those who might get an iPhone (high end users),” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

Over the years, Netflix has evolved into a video streaming player and then into an online entertainment powerhouse, thanks to its cutting edge original content.

Here’s Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sharing his thoughts on how Netflix will expand in India.

Usually, it’s always China first and then India, in the case of Netflix, it was the other way around.
We’re offering the Netflix service in 190 countries around the world, except China because they are not offering licences. We offer Netflix now in India, in Vietnam and Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Europe, Russia, Latin America. Growing internet speed is a global phenomenon, so we’re not looking at it as a sense of timing or any particular market. In India, Reliance is creating a huge wireless network.

Also Read: Top on-demand video streaming services in India.

Was that a big trigger to enter India?
The internet has been growing for 40 years, and continues to grow even as we speak. I know in India it’s been very frustrating with the infrastructure. But if you look at it, you will get more 4G data from Reliance…you’re going to get more fibre optic. Eventually, it will be like electricity. Just like you will probably get electricity to every village, you will get fibre optic to every village as well.

Hastings, a serial entrepreneur, co-founded California-headquartered Netflix, in 1997 after selling off his first company, Pure Software. His advice to entrepreneurs: “Find an idea that most people think is stupid and it turns out to be smart. Because if everybody knows it’s smart, the big companies will do it.”

India has a strong cable market but rock bottom pricing. How is Netflix viewing the India opportunity?
If you compare it [Netflix India package] to a $5 cable bill then it’s more expensive. If you compare it to an iPhone, which retails at #60,000, then we are a bargain. So, in the beginning, we are mostly selling to people who might get an iPhone; so it’s the high end. But that’s the beginning and we will continue to grow our content. Currently, our offerings are in English, but over time we will grow the library to offer Hindi and 20 other languages. Right now it’s a speciality product, but over time video streaming will grow.

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Given that India is a highly fragmented market with different languages, how are you going to adapt, on the content side?
We have a show , so we are already investing in local content. But we will not be out and out Bollywood. If we are going to cater to very specific local tastes, then we are not going to be differentially great at that. Where we can be differentially great is content that not only appeals to Indian families but also to those in Europe and Japan. is a good example. It is created by a French company, filmed in Bogota, Colombia, with a Brazilian star and is hugely successful across markets.

Next couple of years will see flourishing of the Indian creative community – the writers directors and actors – with Netflix, Amazon and Hotstar bidding for content.

Given that the US continues to be the biggest market for Netflix, are you seeing cord cutting happening at a much faster pace?
Nobody wants to cut the cord. There are 100 million households in the US which have cable and it is pretty stable. Satellite is taking some share from cable, but in terms of the total it’s still a huge number. People want great content which they pay for. They want sports, news, astro, drama, comedy and movies. Just like they use DVDs, but DVDs didn’t get people to cut the cord. So, the whole cord cutting thing is easy in journalism — to say who wins, who loses. Over time, there may be some cord cutting but I think it will be very modest.