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Netflix ties up with PTCL as Amazon woos India

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MUMBAI: As the world's leading video-streaming network Netflix and e-commerce giant Amazon take different routes to reach out to the Indian audience while they expand globally, the former is partnering with a top-ranking company in India's neighbourhood Pakistan, thus strengthening its hold in the sub-continent.

While Amazon is relying on going local with its video streaming service, Netflix is depending on its global programming.Amazon meantime has commissioned "Baahubali: The Lost Legends," a new animated series in India based on a local blockbuster movie.

Pakistani telco PTCL has signed a partnership agreement with Netflix. The two companies will use their respective resources for a symbiotic relationship, maximising the viewing experience and penetration of Netflix services in the Islamic state. This pact will serve as the way forward for both Netflix and PTCL to provide digital content. PTCL will promote and aid original Netflix content in Pakistan.

Amazon Studios chief Roy Price frequents India scouting for locally appealing programming for Amazon’s forthcoming video service.

Though Netflix made its India debut around 10 months ago, it makes content-buying decisions out of Los Angeles, even for regional shows, to ensure they have global appeal. For example, the deal with Indian producer Phantom Films for its new Indian original series, based on the internationally acclaimed Mumbai crime novel “Sacred Games."

In Pakistan however PTCL became the only service provider with advanced caching servers and technical pairing with Netflix to offer the superior viewing experience since Netflix’s global launch in January 2016. The Netflix Pakistan website says users can start using services starting $7.99 a month, with a free month offer.

Netflix made the announcement during a keynote by Co-founder and Chief Executive Reed Hastings: “Today you are witnessing the birth of a new global Internet TV network." Members with a streaming-only plan will be able to watch instantly through the Netflix service. The movies and TV shows that are available to stream may vary by location, and will change from time to time.

India, Nigeria, Russia and Saudi Arabia were among the major countries where the service was launched, Hastings said at a Consumer Electronics Show keynote in Las Vegas.

The company recently said it was exploring options for providing its services in China. The company said in July that plans to enter China in 2016 could be delayed. However, Netflix added simplified and traditional Chinese to the 17 languages it already supports.

PTCL’s chief commercial officer Adnan Shahid described digital entertainment as PTCL’s “key priority”. Netflix, which has expanded into some 190 countries following a near-global launch in January, doesn’t believe in a physical presence in every market.

Amazon has been selective internationally, pushing Prime Video into some European markets, Japan, and now India. Its bet is that homegrown programming will win over Indian audiences, a strategy analysts say could also help increase Amazon shoppers’ loyalty.

Netflix is generally reviewed as a stand-alone streaming business, with 87 million subscribers, while Amazon’s video operations are part of the giant’s much larger e-commerce business, with 60 million global Prime members, according to Morgan Stanley estimates.

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