New Delhi: Netflix’s mass outreach experiment seems to be working in India. The American streaming giant, which introduced a mobile-only subscription plan in the country at ₹199 a month this July, says it’s been getting good results from the new offering.
“We’ve been very happy with the mobile plan. It’s actually performing better than we tested. We’ll look at testing that in other markets too, which we think have similar conditions that make it likely that it’s going to be successful for us there as well," Gregory Peters, chief product officer, Netflix, said during the company’s quarterly earnings call on Wednesday.
The ₹199 plan was Netflix’s first mobile-specific option anywhere in the world and its fourth India plan in addition to the existing basic ( ₹499), standard ( ₹649) and premium ( ₹799) plans. Netflix does different tests and tries to figure out the right set of plans that have the right benefits and analyses how the best features can be delivered at the correct price for the subscribers in any given market, Peters said.
“I think what we’re exploring is, since we are operating in markets that have extremely different conditions, levels of affluence and other forms of entertainment competition, what the right structure is for us," he said.
With the cheaper subscription plan, Netflix had displayed aspirations to reach new users in India who typically watch videos on their mobile phones.
It still has to grapple with several local and overseas rivals such as Disney-owned streaming service Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, ZEE5, and ALTBalaji, which are luring users with free or low-priced offerings. However, the idea is to no longer appear urban or niche.
The cheaper subscription plan is part of Netflix’s broader strategy to reach out to non-English speaking audiences, in various societies including India. The company said in Q3, the third season of Spanish crime drama La casa de papel (or Money Heist) became the most watched show on the platform across its non-English language territories with 44 million households watching the new season within four weeks of release. Japanese comedy drama The Naked Director broke out as the biggest title launch in Japan and was also highly successful throughout Asia.
Till date, Netflix has globally released 100 seasons of local language, original scripted series from 17 countries and has plans for over 130 more in 2020. The company also plans to expand investment in local language original films and unscripted series, it said in its earnings call presentation.
The streaming service said its big offering for viewers in the coming months would be an exciting and exhaustive movie slate.
“I think we’ve got, just in the fourth quarter alone, films that range from Michael Bay’s massive scale actioner 6 Underground to Oscar hopefuls such as The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes and Eddie Murphy’s return in Dolemite," said chief content officer Ted Sarandos. “These are big, theatrically ambitious-type films that you’ll be able to watch on Netflix, included in your subscription. It really is a fundamental change in the economics of how people enjoy films. It’s the first time we’ve seen this scale and volume of films in one quarter, so we’re really excited about it," said Sarandos.
Netflix also has a bunch of original Indian films lined up, including Karan Johar’s Drive and Guilty, Ajay Devgn’s Tribhanga starring Kajol, horror anthology Ghost Stories, Dibakar Banerjee’s Freedom and Atul Sabharwal’s Class of ’83, produced by Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment. The streaming service reported revenue of $5.2 billion for the third quarter, up 31% over the previous year with average streaming paid memberships and average revenue per user growing 22% and 9% year-on-year.