For the longest time, we Indians have been absolutely satisfied with the free content available on the internet. Be it music, movies, television series, or exclusive shows, we often even take pride in the unbeatable skills of getting access to the content of our choice without having to pay anything beyond the usual data charges. But what happens when premium content from the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hotstar comes with a price tag in India? The answer is intriguing. Also Read - The Family Man Season 2 now on Amazon Prime Video: How to watch it for free (legally)Also Read - Best Netflix plan to watch June 2021 releases movies: Money Heist 5 and more
In a country of a billion people, there are over 300 million smartphone users. Add to this mix the growing penetration of affordable, high-speed mobile internet connectivity and you have a population of online users which is the fastest in the world to consume premium content. This makes one wonder if there is suddenly a dearth of free content or the Indian online community is finally more aware of quality content available at a premium and now aims to stand at par with the global netizen community. Also Read - Netflix could soon let you play games while watching your favourite movies/shows
Yes, the country has been plagued with piracy since time immemorial, resulting in losses for producers that go into multi-millions. The entertainment industry has repeatedly sought measures to cap the spread of piracy but has not been able to successfully curb it fully. Even today, we see a lot of content being circulated on the internet through illegitimate ways, from television shows being immediately available on YouTube to big banner movies being leaked online before their official release. While consumers might look at it as time-saving and easy access to the content prior to the original telecast, on the other hand, such tactics put the content generators in major losses.
Take for example, HBO s uber popular series Game of Thrones ; adapted from a book, the series offers oodles of drama with violence and politics at its core. With an addictive theme, the series is infamous for being the most illegally downloaded series across the globe. ALSO READ: Amazon Prime Video will win over India s nascent premium streaming market
In such a situation, players such as Netflix and Amazon are not only aiming to inculcate the habit of choosing paid, quality content over free, illegally obtained copies, but are also gradually turning Indian users into the biggest content consumers in the world. Netflix launched in India in 2016 and shortly after its debut, Amazon Prime Video followed suite. These two international players aim to take on Indian video streaming providers which include Hotstar and the recent entrant Reliance Jio’s JioCinema.
With monthly plans starting as low as Rs 50 per month, these online streaming players offer not only access to premium global content which is made available simultaneous to international markets, it is also an indication how the traditional cable TV is soon set to become obsolete. Netflix, with its Rs 500 per month subscription plans, debuted in 2016 and today claims to have more than 93 million members in households around the world and in India — one of the key markets for the service — it has found the biggest user base of binge watchers. This is partly also facilitated with the advent of 4G network providers such as Reliance Jio which are offering free data for the first subscribers followed with subscriptions plans at prices starting at 149 per month.
Netflix has a range of highly-addictive series such as Narcos , Bloodline , and Marvel s Jessica Jones . While the global average of binge watching these series is four days, the enthusiastic Indian audience binge watches the Netflix originals in just three days flat, a report on TOI notes.
But does it mean Indian publishers will take a backseat as users happily feed on international content at a premium? The answer is no. ALSO READ: Netflix could soon let you choose different endings for your favorite TV shows
With the tremendous growth seen in user adoption of paid content, these players are now tying up with local publishers to produce original content that will suit the Indian taste buds. On his India visit, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced strategic partnerships with Airtel, Videocon d2h, and Vodafone to offer original content via DTH and mobile platforms. Under the agreement, operators will integrate the Netflix app into their services.
Given that India in itself is a trove of exceptional artists and original content producers, Hastings further indicated that going forward, the company will be working with some of the country s top talent to bring more locally produced series and films. Netflix has already partnered with Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan s production house — Red Chillies Entertainment — to offer exclusive content from the brand to suit the taste buds of the local audience. To further expand its base in India, Netflix is also aiming to set up its office in Mumbai — the hub for India s entertainment industry. Meanwhile, Amazon Prime Video already has a list of series and shows which have been produced in India. Going forward, the service also partnered with C International Sales, a subsidiary of Cinestaan Film Company to offer users exclusive content.
Image courtesy: Netflix/ Instagram