Home / Industry / Media /  Netflix pushing into smaller towns with new shows, lower charges

NEW DELHI : US video-on-demand platform Netflix that has acquired the image of an elite streaming service thanks to iconic shows such as Narcos and Stranger Things is working to tweak that reputation in India, wooing smaller towns and diverse audiences with content, pricing and product design.

“We are trying to make sure we have something for all taste clusters. We don’t programme specifically based on geography. What we try to do is tell the best story in the best format that it requires," said Srishti Arya, director of international original film for India at Netflix. “The (high) quality gets mistaken for the (elite) headspace, but we are actively looking at keeping a diverse slate," she said.

Coming up on the service soon are two original feature films. One is Yeh Ballet, a small-town story about two underprivileged boys who discover ballet and through it a way to escape their challenging circumstances. The other is Kaali Khuhi, the tale of a Punjab village with a history of female infanticide and mysterious deaths of its residents.

Netflix is testing a mobile-only subscription, starting at 250 a month (half of its 500 basic plan) or 65 a week. Apart from partnering with telecommunication services such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, whose customers are offered free Netflix subscription for a certain time period, the streaming service is trying to improve product design to include features such as easy navigation, discovery and smart downloads.

Industry experts say the challenge for Netflix still is to get Indian consumers to pay for its niche content and adapt to the new value chain in a country where there is already an entrenched entertainment ecosystem.

“India is a very different market with strong local content spread across multiple languages," said Karishma Bhalla, partner and director at Boston Consulting Group. “Plus here, broadcasters have very strong platforms and a different monetization model."

The number of announcements aside, not a lot of local Indian content besides Sacred Games, Lust Stories and Love Per Square Foot has made a noise on Netflix. The response to newer offerings such as Soni, Rajma Chawal and Music Teacher has been lukewarm.

Sacred Games was a path-breaking show, but not everything is required to be path-breaking. Different projects are put together for different experiences," said Arya.

“We have both lean-in and lean-back content and that’ll always be the mix, though things that are a little edgier get spoken about a little more," added Arya.


Lata Jha

Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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