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Netflix is going all out to capture the Indian market. Its latest move signifies that it wants to reach "mass" viewers who are exposed to traditional television more than internet TV.
The California-based video streaming major has announced partnerships with India's leading telecom carriers and DTH (direct-to-home) service providers — Airtel Digital TV, Videocon d2h and Vodafone — that will give viewers access to Netflix content even without a smart TV or a Google Chromecast.
Airtel Digital TV will be integrating the Netflix app within its DTH service which has over 11 million subscribers.
Videocon d2h, meanwhile, will integrate it into its set-top boxes, allowing its 12 million viewers to access Netflix through a dedicated button on their remote control devices.
And Vodafone, the second largest mobile operator in India with over 200 million subscribers, will make Netflix available as prepaid programs and allow customers to pay for the content via their monthly bills.
These partnerships were signed by Netflix Cofounder and CEO Reed Hastings on his maiden visit to India over the weekend.
"India is one of the most important and vibrant countries in the world and we are delighted to be teaming up with three of its leading companies to make it much easier for consumers to enjoy Netflix,” he said.
Netflix, which launched in India in January 2016, has struck multiple India-specific content deals. It has picked up the exclusive rights of Indian films that are now being streamed globally. It has also announced the first original series in the country as well as struck a partnership with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
And there's more local sourcing to be done.
At an event in India's national capital, Hastings announced: "In 2017, we’ll be working on making our Indian service better in every dimension. Working with some of India’s top artists, we cannot wait to bring more locally produced series and films to our more than 93 million members households around the world."
Netflix entered the competitive Indian market almost a year before Amazon Prime Video did, but it stepped on the accelerator after the latter launched in December 2016.
Amazon Prime Video roped in leading Bollywood filmmakers and internet stars to create local content. It also made accessible films and TV shows in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Bengali, some of India's most spoken languages.
Other than local content, Netflix is also facing the heat from Prime Video in terms of pricing.
Amazon's introductory offer makes a yearly Prime subscription available at Rs 499 ($7.5) — nearly the same price at which a Netflix monthly plan can be bought. This disparity might give Prime Video in the price-conscious Indian market a competitive edge over Netflix.
Plus, there's Hotstar, Airtel Movies, Eros Now and a clutch of other homegrown on-demand video services, which are witnessing increased adoption following the launch of Reliance Jio, a telecom network owned by India's richest man, that became the fastest-growing telecom service in the world by offering swathes of free 4G data.
Despite the intense competition, Hastings said that Netflix will focus on improving its content library and continue to have a premium play rather than changing prices.
It is also reportedly looking at introducing more payment options for Indian users, given the low penetration of credit and debit cards.
Topics: Airtel, amazon prime, Business, Entertainment, Movies, netflix, netflix and chill, on-demand, Television, Video, video streaming, Videos, vodafone