Netflix,the streaming service with 125m global subscribers, views India as its next major source of revenue growth, not least because the country’s number of internet users has doubled in the past four years to 500m.
A cinema ticket at a multiplex, combined with popcorn and travel, is equivalent to the price of a Netflix subscription per month.
The video streaming company added 5.2m net new subscribers in april to june quarter. Out of 5.2m new subscribers, 4.5m new subscribers were added from overseas.Its performance was “strong but not stellar”.
Netflix entered India in a blaze of promotion and with a bag full of cash. Advertisements for Sacred Games are plastered over the Delhi metro and close to the airport. Its executives speak with a familiar zeal about the potential of the Indian market — like many western companies it has been shut out of China and hopes India will help make up for the lost growth opportunity.
“We are carried away with enthusiasm by India,” says Todd Yellin, vice-president of product at Netflix. “We think it will be one of our biggest sources of growth over the next few years.”
The company believes that India, where audiences are used to lavish Bollywood film productions but mainly watch low-budget soap operas on television, is a vast untapped market for its brand of glossy, highly produced shows.
In its attempt to crack that market, Netflix is pursuing the same strategy that has earned it a $180bn valuation even before it makes a profit: spending big on original content in a variety of genres, and making the customer pay.