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What's Netflix's strategy in India? Even its CEO is not sure

(Image credit: Netflix)
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Netflix considers India a vital market. Its CEO had announced that Netflix would invest Rs 3,000 crore on Indian content. 

But two years after that famous announcement, Reed Hastings, the CEO in question, is not sure about where the company stands in the country.

“We have had enough success in Japan and South Korea for you guys to think about it like Germany or France, like it’s a big developed rich market. We have got that wired. In India, we are still figuring things out,” Reed Hastings said in an earnings call  yesterday. 

"We're still learning. You know, we've done some pricing experiments in India, and I would say we're still mostly focused on getting a content fit and getting broader content. So that's why I say that one is a more speculative investment than say Korea or Japan."

Netflix's plans in India

Netflix Co-Chief Executive Officer and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said the platform is always looking for a product market fit. Recently, Netflix had announced its biggest ever slate for India. As part of its 2021 content slate, the platform has lined up 41 titles across films, series, comedy, documentary, and reality genres.

India is among the cheapest places in the world to get a Netflix subscription — without even taking into account the mobile-only plan. But its pricing and adoption hasn’t grown enough for the company to be happy about its state.

Netflix is working on pricing experiments in India. It new Rs 299 entry-level plan, which allows subscribers to watch its shows and films in high definition (HD) on a single mobile phone, tablet or computer screen at a time has been a working to an extent.

Its existing entry-level plan, priced at Rs 499, also provides support for television viewing, while its Rs 199 mobile-only plan supports only standard definition (SD) content.

India is the only country where it's offering a mobile-only plan.

Partnership with Jio, a success

Netflix Chief Product Officer Greg Peters said the partnership with Jio had helped Netflix to reach a new set of users. "Jio is a great example of a partner we’ve been working with there to really bring the service to a new demographic at a very, very low price associated with low-cost mobile plans that they are offering as well as home-based IPTV plans. And those have been successful for us as well."

Overall, Netflix's revenue in Q1 2021 grew 24% year over year to $7.16 billion while operating profit and margin reached all-time highs. The company finished Q1’21 with 208 million paid memberships, up 14% year over year

In general, Netflix plans to spend over $17 billion on content in 2021, a jump from its $11.8- billion budget in 2020 and $13.9 billion in 2019.

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Balakumar K
Balakumar K

Over three decades as a journalist covering current affairs, politics, sports and now technology. Former Editor of News Today, writer of humour columns across publications and a hardcore cricket and cinema enthusiast. He writes about technology trends and suggest movies and shows to watch on OTT platforms.