India is competitive & exciting market with large pool of stories: Reed Hastings

MUMBAI: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings never misses an opportunity to praise the Indian market. After all, the company is expecting its next 100 million subscribers to come from this market.

During a tete-a-tete with select media from across the world at Netflix’s Los Angeles headquarters on Sunset Boulevard on Monday, CEO Reed Hastings said that India is a competitive and exciting market with its diverse dynamics and large pool of stories.

Hastings further stated, “There is also lots happening on Amazon, and on Hotstar, which is now going to be owned by Disney… It’s a super competitive, exciting market.”

“There has been tremendous traction… Everyone has been talking about ‘Lust Stories’ and ‘Sacred Games’. We have ‘Delhi Crime’ coming out this week. So, there’s lots that’s happening on the original front,” informed Hastings.

He also praised Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio for making mobile internet affordable. “There is nothing more impressive in the world than what Reliance Jio has done in the past four years in India to widen Internet accessibility. These are good times for content creators in the region too.”

The entry of over the top (OTT) platforms has also helped Indian content creators to tell newer stories. “If you were an Indian content creator (earlier), there were very few places to go, and now there are many places to go. So, people are pouring in. There are amazing amounts of stories that are coming up,” he noted.

Hastings is satisfied with Netflix’s performance in the Indian market. “I am very pleased with our performance there. Like ‘Love Per Square Foot’ was strictly classic Bollywood. But ‘Sacred Games’ and ‘Lust Stories’, those crossovers made us more optimistic.

“We try to tell the best stories we can. Sometimes they are ready, sometimes they take longer. It really varies by that. There are so many streaming services, but if you think about how many networks there are on cable in India, there are way more than 34. I think there’s a lot of room to do different kinds of stories,” he added.

Hastings also touched upon the self-regulatory Code of Best Practices that Netflix and players like Hotstar signed under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). “None of us want strict government regulation on content. We can be flexible and can protect creative freedom a little better if we are a little bit proactive,” he explained.

As far as talks on online censorship are concerned in India, Hastings commented that there has been no activity on the issue. “It’s just before the elections. We are hoping the talk moves on because it’s a challenging time to talk about anything like that. So in general, people around the world… and I am talking about adults, not children, want to watch what they want to watch, and the Internet represent that freedom,” opined Hastings.

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