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India is a ‘speculative’ investment: Netflix’s Reed Hastings

India is more of a speculative investment than Korea or Japan, the co-CEO said.


KOLKATA: It is not easy to win over Indian consumers given the diversity of the market – be it in terms of language, income or preferences. Since its foray into India, streaming giant Netflix has taken several measures from the dual point of view of content and pricing. While top executives remain bullish about the India market, there’s still a lot of work to be done by the streamer.

Netflix has already seen huge success in some Asian markets like Japan, South Korea. The APAC region has contributed to a third of its subscriber growth in Q1 and has seen healthy revenue growth, including average revenue per member. However, it is “still figuring things out” in India, Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings said in an earnings call.

“Investment takes some guts and belief forward-looking. But the other investments you should think of, just like rich European countries, content exports really well and we are just getting a little better every month on it,” he added.

While comparing India’s growth story to that of other Asian countries, Hastings averred that investing here still remains a "speculative" venture as they're still working out the kinks in their overall content strategy.

“I would say we are still mostly focused on getting a content fit and getting broader content. So that’s why I would say that one is a more speculative investment than, say, Korea or Japan, which again, five years ago was very speculative. But we are over the hump on that,” he detailed.

India is a tremendous opportunity for Netflix; moreover, the platform offers great scope for the creative community to connect with the enormous audiences, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos said.

“It’s just like all great opportunities. It’s a long journey, and it’s a challenge. And we think it’s worth it. And that’s why we’re investing early and trying to stay ahead of it. And I think we will be able to see those kinds of results that we’ve seen in other places in the world as we continue to learn more and more and more,” he stated.

Of all its markets, India was the first one where Netflix launched its mobile only plan. Recently, it started testing Mobile+ plan at Rs 299 per month. Netflix COO Greg Peters said they would work more and more on such plans that have the right balance of features and pricing. The streaming platform is working on bringing in price points that are low enough for more and more of the world’s population to be able to access the service.

Along with sachet plans, partnerships with market leaders have also yielded good results for the platform. “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,” Peters said.

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