NEW DELHI :
Netflix is looking to extend the success of its ₹199 mobile-only plan in India to Indonesia and Malaysia. It was a targeted plan for the price-conscious Indian consumer, a departure for the American streaming giant which takes pride in charging its viewers a premium for offering advertising-free high quality video content on demand.
Launched in the middle of 2019, the company says its India-specific plan is delivering results, good enough for it to launch similar mobile-only schemes in Indonesia and Malaysia during the recently concluded quarter.
The Reed Hastings-owned company has seen similar results with incremental subscriber growth and improving retention in those two countries as well.
“We're still in our early days in India and the market potential there is enormous. It's a very unique market in the sense that it's very mobile heavy, and while figuring out the mobile-only plans, both economically and from a service standpoint, we found them to be kind of revenue neutral to positive, and a way to get broader distribution in India," Ted Sarandos, chief content officer, Netflix, said during a conference call on its October-December earnings.
Netflix registered a 31% increase in Q4 revenue year-on-year, bringing full year 2019 revenue to over $20 billion, while FY19 operating income rose 62% to $2.6 billion.
The streaming service crossed 100 million paid memberships outside the US. In a letter to shareholders published along with the production company’s October-December earnings, Netflix said streaming entertainment is a global phenomenon and it was working hard to build on its early progress.
Global paid net additions for Netflix totaled at 8.8 million in the fourth quarter, unchanged from the year-ago period. This was significantly higher than the company’s forecast of 7.6 million, fueled by its broad slate of original programming and the worldwide adoption of streaming video, the company said in a statement. These include record paid net adds in Europe, West Asia and Africa (EMEA), Latin America (LATAM) and Asia Pacific (APAC) regions.
Netflix’s growth is driven by local stories originating in these countries. The company said local originals were the most popular titles in many countries including India, Korea, Japan, Turkey, Thailand, Sweden and the UK. Incidentally, their authenticity and nuance were responsible for their success in other countries too—members around the world have loved Spanish crime drama series Money Heist (or La casa de papel), with the show appearing in the top ten list of more than 70 countries.
“Out of the 7.7 billion people on the planet, only 1.5 billion speak English to some degree and about 371 million are native speakers. And yet, historically, the majority of entertainment content in the world has been produced in Hollywood in the English language. It’s in that disconnect that we see a tremendous opportunity," Greg Peters, chief product officer at Netflix had said at an event in Los Angeles last year. “The majority of Netflix’s 139 million (then) members are from outside the US, a ratio that is going to get bigger in the years to come. And you see that shift in the kind of original programming that we are doing," he had added.
Growth in Q4 was also steered by new seasons of shows like The Crown, Big Mouth and You. In its first four weeks, over 21 million member households chose to watch season three of The Crown (up more than 40% from season two released over the same time period), and in total, over 73 million households worldwide have watched The Crown since the series was launched.
Netflix’s fantasy drama series The Witcher, which was launched in December, is turning out to be the company’s biggest season one TV series ever, with 76 million member households watching it within four weeks of release.
The company is now looking at releases of the returning seasons of Sex Education, Narcos: Mexico, Kingdom and the movie sequel To All The Boys: P.S I Still Love You.