If you are an ardent fan of Hollywood movies and American TV shows, you must already be jumping with joy. Because Netflix, the world’s top video streaming service has arrived in India. For the uninitiated, let me give you a head-on idea about this US-based video service. If you have a smart TV, a laptop or a smaprtphone, you can access Netflix’s service. Additionally, it will also work on PlayStation and Apple TV, where the video content will stream directly onto larger screen.
Netflix started in 1997 in California, US as a DVD rental service. It now has over 69 million users globally. Across the world, the brand has changed the way we look at how video content is consumed. America has been getting us to binge. It started with the launch of food brands Pizza Hut and McDonald’s in India a decade back. And now, we are initiated into binge video-watching!
But the question is, is Netflix going to work in India? We are a nation mad about movies. We have the biggest cinema industry in the world, where majority of our movies come from Bollywood. We are driven by the powerful dialogues of Amitabh Bachchan, emulate the impeccable gestures of Rajinikanth and believe in romancing like Shah Rukh Khan. For us, movies come only next to cricket.
For a nation that is highly passionate about cinema, how is a firang online video streaming portal going to break the mould? Netflix users will need to pay Rs 500 to watch shows and movies on a single screen at one time. For two screens, they need to pay Rs 650, and Rs 800 for four. UHD content is available at the Rs800-subscription. Although piracy is a crime, we have hundreds of stalls around every town and city that sells pirated DVDs for a throwaway price of Rs 15-40. People prefer buying such a DVD that has four to five movies rather than watching it in an expensive theatre. For them, it’s quantity above quality.
With Netflix, the catch is, you need to have a PayPal account or own a credit card to make the payment. Going by the American standards, this is the norm. But how many people in India have an operating credit card? The population lives mostly in villages and Tier 2 &3 cities, and does transactions in cash. Also, not everyone has a smartphone, leave alone a smart TV.
Plus, bandwidth in India can be a major issue. It would be useless unless you have a 3G connection. Similar services like Hooq and BoxTV have been around, and they are available at cheaper price. But Netflix is likely to have an edge over others because it generates exclusive content that is popular worldwide.
What I feel is, leaving aside a small fraction of urban Indian population, not too many movie-lovers are going to benefit from Netflix. As of now, it has limited Indian content and, the catalogue is limiting too. Nevertheless, there are plenty of titles that India never had access to. It will cater to the English-speaking janta who are hooked to global shows. For them, it will be a small price to pay.