Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings said on Friday the online video streaming company is investing ₹3,000 crore in 2019 and 2020 to create more original content from India.
“We launched in 2016 and we have continued to invest. We have a lot of content from the United States, the U.K. and Spain. We are developing our Indian content here,’’ said Hastings.
He said the Indian series Mighty Little Bheem, which was seen by 27 million households around the world was a huge global success. He said he hoped that more and more Indian content will find a global audience.
Hastings said Netflix does not believe in a set formula for hits, because consumers across the world want variety. “If there was one, then every show of Netflix would be a hit,” said the founder. It is to keep its focus on viewers that it has a no-ads policy. “Since we are not advertisement-driven like many other businesses, we can choose stories that are most comforting, most provocative and most interesting.” He cited Lust Stories as a prime example.
Hastings said just as Netflix’s investment in super-talented people has been growing, so has its customer base. “We have 160 million members today, while 10 years ago it was a tiny fraction of that,” he said, citing two reasons for that: quality of shows and increasing internet penetration.
Although Hastings didn’t reveal how many Indian subscribers the service has, he said that these are ‘early days’. He also acknowledged that the streaming service faces tough competition in India from rival companies such as Amazon Prime and Hotstar, with Apple, Disney and others looking to make inroads into what is largely considered a booming market for streaming.
“If we have amazing content from around the world, people are willing to pay for that,” Hastings said, mentioning the subsidised prices the company has introduced in the region.
In a bid to take on competition, in July, Netflix, which has a market capitalisation of nearly $100 billion, launched a mobile-only plan for India priced at ₹199 per month, the first time the company has launched such a low-price scheme anywhere in the world. This plan is much cheaper than its existing subscription prices, which start at ₹500 per month for its basic service. By contrast, Amazon Prime and Hotstar offer an annual premium service for ₹999.