Netflix has more than doubled its content catalogue in India since launch: Jessica Lee

MUMBAI: Netflix is rapidly doubling down on its content creation efforts in the country. The content catalogue in the country has more than doubled when one looks at both original and licensed titles. The basic aim is to draw on the richness of content creators.

“We have more than doubled our catalogue in India since our launch in 2016 encompassing both original and licensed titles. Our content investment in India has scaled at a very fast pace. Our investment in original content really reflects the richness of content creators we can draw on – the best of Indian storytellers to create high-quality original series and movies,” Netflix Asia VP communications Jessica Lee told in an interaction.

Netflix has announced a total of 11 original series including the already launched Sacred Games, Ghoul, and Little Things and upcoming series including ‘Selection Day’ (released on 28th December), ‘Bard of Blood’, ‘Leila’, Baahubali: Before the Beginning, Typewriter, ‘Midnight’s Children’, ‘Crocodile’ and ‘Again’.

In addition, the streaming platform has launched four Indian original films namely Love Per Square Foot, Lust Stories, Brij Mohan Amar Rahe and Rajma Chawal and has nine upcoming Indian original films: ‘Soni’, ‘Chopsticks’, ‘Bulbul’, ‘Upstarts’, ‘Cobalt Blue’, ‘15th August’, ‘Music Teacher’, ‘Hotel Mumbai’ and ‘Firebrand’. Outside of series and movies, we have stand-up comedy specials, a kid’s series, Mighty Little Bheem, and an unscripted series on the Mumbai Indians and the Indian Premier League (IPL).

In terms of behaviour patterns, she noted that India is a nation of commute streamers, with Netflix members kicking off their binge while on the road – Indians are 82% more likely to stream at 9 am, a behavior that continues on the ride home too – peak streaming in India is at 5 pm.

“We don’t share city or country-specific member data. Our Indian customers enjoy greater control over their entertainment experience with a service like Netflix, as they can watch as much content as they want, anytime they want and on any internet-connected device,” she stated.

“Indians are amongst the top mobile downloaders in the world for Netflix content. We launched downloads in late 2016; and then a year and a half later, we launched smart downloads (for now on Android only).”

Lee said that India is one of the world’s great creative centers producing some of the most compelling films and series of today. “Our plan globally and here in India is to hire the best talent possible. We opened our Mumbai office in 2017 and are growing the office across functions including content, production, marketing, PR, legal and consumer insights.”

Regional content also plays an important role in the company’s strategy. Netflix has not only doubled its catalogue in India it has also steadily grown the regional language content. The platform offers local content in several languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Marathi, and Punjabi.

“Our original series, Ghoul was dubbed in Tamil and Telugu and our original film, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle was dubbed in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. We did the world premiere of ‘Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle’ in Mumbai and brought together an all-star cast of talent: Abhishek Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, Kareena Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, and Jackie Shroff as the lead Hindi-language talent,” she stated.

Elaborating on Netflix’s programming strategy, Lee said that the aim is to produce finely crafted, deeply relevant, proudly local series. Therefore, it is important to work with some of the finest creators and talent in the world as they tell new and unique stories from India.

She cited the example of the universe of ‘Baahubali’, the dystopian sci-fi future of ‘Leila’, a spy thriller like ‘Bard of Blood’ filmed in Leh and the upcoming film ‘Chopsticks’.

Explaining the greenlighting process, Lee said that the greenlighting process begins with conversations with storytellers who have a really passionate vision for the series and films they want to create combined with our belief that they have the ability to execute against that vision.

In terms of the budget dedicated to creating originals in the country, she noted that India is seeing the fastest investment in content for any country that it has launched in its first few years.

“Our focus is to make the content offering in India so great that more and more Indians find it of incredible value. This means creating original series and movies in India, adding top quality, big budget licensed content as well as making Netflix the best streaming experience for our Indian members.”

On the distribution front, the platform has been working on local partnerships to make sure that Netflix is even more accessible in India which includes partnerships in 2017 with Airtel Digital TV. “We want to make it much easier for Indian consumers to watch Netflix, whether on a set-top box or on a mobile.”

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