Why Netflix’s India show can’t be a hit in its existing avatar

by | Jan 7, 2016

1. It’s got the India pricing wrong; very wrong: In launching its streaming services this week, Netflix certainly has not been mindful of the local internet pricing. Given that even a standard-definition (SD) stream could consume up to 700 MB of data per hour while an HD stream would eat up to 3GB an hour, the added cost of data would make it prohibitive to users. As it is, Netflix’s SD plan costs Rs 500 a month while the HD plan is priced at Rs 650. Assuming that a movie would take more than two hours to get over, it would take just two HD movies to exhaust 10 GB of data, which on a 3G speed would cost around Rs 1,250. Yes, wireline broadband could be more cost effective, especially if you are located in metros and some select cities where some ISPs are offering up to 20 GB of data at a monthly rental of under Rs 700. But still, think of it—even that would amount to spending around Rs 1,400 for watching four HD movies a month (including Netflix subscription fee and internet access cost). By the way, the ultra HD video plan could guzzle up to 7 GB of data per hour and comes for a monthly charge of Rs 850.

2. There are no tie-ups with the internet service providers in place:Had that been in place then the total cost to the user could have been lowered to acceptable levels. For example, if a telco offers a certain number of Netflix movies as part of a 3G plan then the proposition could look worth considering to the user, who would probably need to pay a minor incremental amount for the movies. Could Netflix be hoping that telcos would come up with special plans for its service, as they have done for popular applications such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, et al.? Looks like a distant possibility, at least for now.
3. There’s a dearth of compelling content for Indian users: This is a further reason why a majority of users may not feel like paying a premium to watch Netflix content, especially movies. Assuming that Bollywood is a primary audience puller in India, the near absence of any recent Bollywood hits on Netflix would be disappointing to potential subscribers. For example, when I logged into my newly created Netflix account today, the opening screen presented me with a total of 78 titles, out of which only five were from Bollywood—Singh is King, Shootout at Lokhandwala, Piku, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, and Maine Pyar Kiya. I was also prompted to select my preferences so that Netflix could show me more titles that I would like. I selected all the five titles listed above, and the Netflix repository threw up a mix that had some Bollywood titles, also. These included Jat James Bond, Hum Saath Saath Hain, Hate Story, Heropanti, Once upon a Time in Mumbai, Lootera, Shootout at Wadala, Shor in the City, Fakira, Andaz Apna Apna, Ragini MMS2, Bajate Raho, and a few others. I’m not sure if these could be termed as compelling content for any Bollywood movie watcher.

See this post on LinkedIn.