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Netflix plans to become leading producer & distributor of high-quality Indian content

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MUMBAI: Online properties are gradually overtaking television in the race to become video content leaders. From mass programming, entertainment now is moving towards personalised experience curated for each individual. Netflix plans  to become a leading producer and distributor of high-quality Indian content. In 2017, it has been doubling down on Indian investment and looking to put together a good content library.

This year, it announced partnerships with Videocon, Airtel and Vodafone -- which would help Netflix go deep into the diverse Indian market, taking in up millions of users to watch Netflix on a mobile phone, TV or through a set-top box.

Netflix, although, very expensive as compared to the monthly subscription of other OTT / VoD players in India came to the rescue of content lovers, Netflix Asia vice president of communications Jessica Lee tells Verve.

Be it TV shows or movies, Netflix, which closed Q2 2017 with 104 million members globally, has revolutionised video watching. It offers movies such as Okja and War Machine (both 2017) to a battery of shows such as House of Cards, Narcos and The Crown. Even though Netflix India charges the steepest subscription, it remains popular owing to its content.

A viewer earlier spent months following a TV series to conclusion, but now, Indians are finishing a series in three days (although, the global average is four days) such as Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Narcos, Bloodline Jessica Jones. The most-loved genre in India is sci-fi, Netflix believes.

Netflix believes it is touching a pool of consumers in India with a great passion for diverse entertainment.  The VoD service offers global original shows from The Crown and Stranger Things to mainstream, star-driven Indian films such as Shah Rukh Khan movies, Baahubali and Dangal.

It is also working on independent films with film-makers in India. Comedy is another popular genre in India which Netflix is thriving on with original specials from Aziz Ansari, Russell Peters, Ali Wong, Chris Tucker, Hasan Minhaj and Dave Chappelle.

Some of the popular Netflix originals in India, one of its heaviest users of the 'download' feature, are Daredevil, Luke Cage, Narcos, House of Cards, The Crown, Stranger Things and Master of None. As a global platform, Netflix sees great stories travelling across regions which is a huge opportunity for Indian content creators.

Indian content is a part of Netflix's global plan. For 2017, its content budget is USD 6 billion for both, licensed and original content. It plans to reach over 1,000 hours of original content this year -- about 400 original TV series and films including ones from India.

On the originals front, Netflix is focused on finding great Indian stories – for the world to see, 'Sacred Games' being the first. It recently announced two other originals, Selection Day and Again. Another area for Netflix is top-quality local stand-up originals with, for example -- Aditi Mittal and Vir Das.

Netflix believes watching together is becoming a trend in India, with 79 per cent of couples surveyed saying that streaming is a way to spend time together. It has gathered that India is a nation of commute streamers. Indians, it says, are 82 per cent more likely to stream at 9 am, and the peak streaming time in India is 5 pm.

An interesting habit Netflix has observed in India is that while 31 per cent of its subscribers sign up on mobiles, they move to TV around six months later. While sign-ups on television are lower (at 12 per cent), within six months that behaviour grows to about 32 per cent. Netflix concludes that consumers are taking advantage of the flexibility it allows -- to watch on multiple devices.

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