Netflix is adding “Long Live Brij Mohan” to its growing list of originals geared for the Indian market. The film, which is directed by Nikhil Bhat (“Saluun”), is expected to debut on the service on August 3, giving Netflix more ammo in the fight for eyeballs in India.
With only 5 million subscribers, Netflix is trailing far behind its streaming competitors in the country, where the leading service, Hot Star, commands more than 70 million active viewers.
Part of the streamer’s problem in the country is its unwillingness to drop its subscription-based model, or at least tweak it. The company insists on charging 500 Rupees (roughly $8.00) per month for access to its content. While this may make sense in places like the US and the UK, the logic of the strategy falls short in countries like India, where just a few years ago the annual median per capita income stood at $1670. However, in its Q2 earnings call, the company made it clear that it wasn’t opposed to tweaking its pricing model, but, for the moment, is more focused on the affluent part of the country.
“We’ve got a lot of room to grow in a reasonably affluent part of the society in India,” said Netflix CPO Greg Peters. “So much more runway, but having said that we’re constantly testing our pricing models what pricing strategies work best for our members around the world and trying to find what features, what tiers we can add to make that – a both a revenue positive but also a consumer friendly and consumer fair kind of approach.”
Aside from pricing, another issue facing the company is a shortage of local original content. In a time where content is king, the streaming giant has been slow to tap into the talent of the local population. But this is changing. At the ET Global Business Summit earlier this year, the company announced three Indian original productions — “Ghoul,” “Leila” and “Crocodile.” Those titles add to four previously announced projects that include “Sacred Games,” “Selection Day,” ‘”Again,” and “Bard of Blood.”
All things considered, Netflix is relatively pleased with the progress it has made since launching in the country in 2016 but understands that there is much work ahead if it expects to have the same dominance in the country as it does in countries like the US. “We are really pleased with our progress and tracking we’re making since we launched two and a half years ago,” explained CEO Reed Hastings in a call to shareholders. “And we just have a lot of work and a lot of opportunity ahead.”
India is estimated to emerge in the top 10 lists in the global OTT market by 2022 with revenue of with over $803Mn (INR 5,500 Cr), according to the latest report by PwC.