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India is top growth market for Netflix in Asia

MUMBAI: Netflix has identified India as its top growth market in Asia, followed by Japan and Korea.

“It is the size of the market that makes India attractive. India is our top market in Asia in terms of growth potential. Japan and Korea follow,” Netflix chief communications officer Jonathan Friedland told TelevisionPost.com.

Netflix will ramp up its India content as it eyes rapid growth in the country. “We have a small amount of Indian content as of now. We will grow this as we go along. Creating original content in India is also part of our plan. But it will not be masala content. That is not what people use Netflix for,” said Friedland.

Netflix, which recently licensed its first Indian film directed by Q, will add content across Indian languages. “In due course we will add local-language films in Punjabi, Telugu, etc. Our programming service is based on what people actually watch. India is a great place for storytelling. In terms of creating original content in India, the aim is to find creators who tell great stories. In each market that we enter we talk to great storytellers,” said Friedland.

While Netflix’s initial shows like ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Orange is the New Black’ show on Indian channels like Zee Café due to their earlier contracts, Netflix will make its other shows available only on its platform.

Netflix understands that content deals with television broadcasters like Star and Zee will be difficult as they have their own digital platforms. “I doubt if they [broadcasters] would want to do business with us,” averred Friedland.

Launching in India last month, Netflix picked up its first documentary film from the country, ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It’.

On 1 February, the company announced that comedy ‘Brahman Naman’, from Indian indie director Q, will be available exclusively for its members around the world later this year.

Planning to invest $5 billion on content this year, Netflix believes a lot of it will move globally.

Earlier, in January, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, while giving a keynote address at CES 2016, Las Vegas, announced the launch of the service in 130 countries, including India. “Today, I am delighted to announce that while we were here on stage at the CES, we switched Netflix on in India, Vietnam, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Turkey, Indonesia—in all 130 new countries.”

Netflix’s India operations are run out of California and there is a small office in Singapore. “When Netflix scales up original content in India, it may also decide to set up an office in the country,” said Friedland.