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Amazon, Netflix vie for Indian eyes

News, 02 November 2016
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MUMBAI: Netflix and Amazon Prime, two giants of global video streaming, both view India as a crucial market as growth in their home US market begins to plateau, but they have adopted different strategies to win over Indian consumers.

Netflix, which now operates in some 190 countries, focuses on producing content that has global appeal and even decisions about commissioning programmes for local markets, such as India, are made from its headquarters in Los Angeles.

"There's no point in us trying to out-Bollywood Bollywood at this point," explained Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, in comments reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Roy Price, head of Amazon Studios, appears to have adopted a different approach after visiting Mumbai earlier this year when he met Bollywood stars and explored content that would appeal to Amazon's Indian subscribers.

"You can have a global service, but there are no global customers. There are only local customers," he said. "The musical aspect is super important, so you want to embrace that."

Accordingly, Amazon is reported to be looking to buy about a dozen Indian original shows with the aim of releasing one a month.

According to the Journal, these include a new animated series, called "Baahubali: The Lost Legends", a show based on a blockbuster Indian movie with a Hindu mythical flavour, as well as a new cricket-themed drama featuring Indian star Farhan Akhtar.

In addition to their different approach to local content, Amazon and Netflix also differ on their pricing strategies with Amazon targeting the mass market and its rival tapping India's high-end, Western-orientated consumers.

Subscription to Amazon Prime in India stands at about $15 a year whereas Netflix charges nearly $8 a month, or more than double the average Indian cable TV rate of $3.30.

That said, Netflix is not ruling out reviewing what it charges in India. According to Reed Hastings, the company will continue to focus on the country's wealthier consumers for the moment. But, he added: "In the next couple of years we will want to grow beyond that."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff

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