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Netflix launches in India; three pricing packages on offer

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MUMBAI: In one fell swoop, it is hoping to change the world of audio visual consumption. Netflix co-founder & chief executive Reed Hastings today announced the launch of the Internet TV network or OTT service in 130 countries all over the world at the CES show in Las Vegas. And India figures amongst the list, taking its footprint to 190 nations. 

The price: Rs 500 for the basic service, Rs 650 for the standard package and Rs 800 for the premium one. The Rs 500 tag allows viewers to watch the content in standard definition on one screen only at one time. For Rs 650 viewers get access to HD content and can watch on two screens simultaneously. The Rs 800 package brings in the full monty with subscribers being able to watch both HD and Ultra HD content on four screens at the same time. 

However, the first month is being offered free for trial to new subscribers.

“Today you are witnessing the birth of a new global Internet TV network,” said Hastings in Las Vegas. “With this launch, consumers around the world -- from Singapore to St. Petersburg, from San Francisco to Sao Paulo -- will be able to enjoy TV shows and movies simultaneously -- no more waiting. With the help of the Internet, we are putting power in consumers’ hands to watch whenever, wherever and on whatever device.”

Viewers in India will get to watch Netflix original series such as Marvel’s Daredevil and Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Narcos, Sense8, Grace and Frankie, and Marco Polo, as well as a catalog of licensed TV shows and movies.

While largely available in English in most new countries, Netflix has added Arabic, Korean, Simplified and Traditional Chinese to the 17 languages it already supports. He added that newer languages will be added from hereon.

“From today onwards, we will listen and we will learn, gradually adding more languages, more content and more ways for people to engage with Netflix,” said Hastings. “We’re looking forward to bringing great stories from all over the world to people all over the world.” 

He emphasised that the consumption on Netflix is on the up. “Our 70 million members consumed 12 billion hours of Netflix in Q4 of this year as compared to 8.5 billion last year,” he said. He also announced that Netflix will be adding high dynamic range (HDR) video delivery later this year, adding to the 4K or Ultra HD, which it produces most of its series in currently.

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos revealed that 600 hours of original programming will be delivered to its members in 2016. This will include 31 new and returning original series, two dozen original feature films and documentaries, a wide range of stand-up comedy specials and 30 original kids series -- available at the same time to members everywhere. 

Amongst the highlights are The Crown, which is about the young Queen Elizabeth while Baz Luhrmann will be directing a series called The GetDown about New York at a time when its crime scene was crumbling and giving way to the disco,  graffiti and hiphop culture. 

Sarandos explained that Netflix is making a difference to piracy wherever it goes because it does not trap viewers in frustrating business models and linear viewing experiences in which television operates. 

“We deliver all episodes at one go so viewers can watch when they want to watch and we are constantly improving our compression technologies to allow for a better viewing experience. We helped create binge viewing,” he said. 

He stated that peer-to-peer torrent downloading via Bittorrent has dropped by 14 per cent in the first six months of the service’s launch in Australia. 

A Netflix press release explained that the service is available on virtually any device that has an Internet connection, including personal computers, tablets, smartphones, Smart TVs and game consoles, and automatically provides the best possible streaming quality based on available bandwidth. Many titles, including Netflix original series and films, are available in high-definition with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound and some in Ultra HD 4K. Advanced recommendation technologies with up to five user profiles help members discover entertainment they'll love.

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