Next 100 mn customers for Netflix will come from India: Reed Hastings

MUMBAI: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has said that the next 100 million customers for the service will come from India. He also noted that Netflix has the potential to become a giant exporter of Indian stories.

“The next 100 million customers will come from India. We have 120 million so far around the world about 60 million in the US,” Hastings said speaking at the Global Business Summit on the topic “How Technology is Changing Media”.

Hastings is bullish about the stories that can be created from the Indian market due to its ancient civilisation. “We will be giant exporters of Indian stories because of rich storytelling thousands of years of great stories. It hasn’t been able to find a market because of lack of premium so we plan to develop that market,” he said.

According to Hastings, Netflix will try to uplevel the Indian entertainment industry by investing in local content. “Our strategy is to build local content and try to uplevel the industry,” he stated.

Netflix has announced three new shows ‘Leila’, ‘Ghoul’, and ‘Crocodile’ in addition to its existing slate of original productions out of India including ‘Sacred Games’, ‘Selection Day’, and ‘Bard of Blood’. ‘Sacred Games’, which looks at the underworld scene in Mumbai, will release in December.

“We have just announced three more TV shows doing here. ‘Sacred Games’ is coming in December. You will see a different side of Mumbai in ‘Sacred Games’,” he added.

He also noted that Netflix’s first local Indian movie ‘Love Per Square Feet’ is doing well for not just in India but also around the world in the US, UK, and Mexico.

He also asserted that Netflix will continue to be a premium service. Hastings said that the idea behind the pricing is to uplevel the experience at home.

Hastings said that the cheap cable TV services have hampered the growth of the Indian entertainment industry.

“On a global basis, what consumers pay for cable in India is very low which keeps the industry smaller than it should be. Indian entertainment business will be much larger in the next 20 years because of investing in pay services like Netflix and others,” he stated.

Defending Netflix’s premium pricing, Hastings said that the monthly subscription price ranging from Rs 500-800 is comparable to movie tickets.

“Netflix is Rs 500 to Rs 800 a month depending on the plan which is more than other services but about what a movie ticket costs. What we have to do is to have such great content that people make the comparison to movie tickets and buying DVDs more than they do to cable,” he added.

He also stated that the growth of the Indian internet has been unpredictable. “It helps to have confidence in the growth of internet but even we couldn’t predict the last two years of Indian internet growth. It’s the most phenomenal example anywhere in the world in terms of lower data cost, more people online, penetration of 4G. We didn’t that coming we just got lucky on that one,” he noted.

Netflix, he said, allows global sharing of content to increase people’s understanding.

On the fragmentation in the market, Hastings said that entertainment can be consumed through multiple channels unlike a telecom service or a mobile phone.

“With entertainment, you consume from multiple channels. So it’s not like you buy an iPhone or a Samsung. People watch Netflix and YouTube and Hotstar and linear TV. The mix just depends on the quality of your shows,” he averred.

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