MUMBAI: Netflix, the online streaming service, has launched in India but it will not try to replicate what domestic OTT platforms are doing, the company's chief communications officer has said.
Speaking less than a fortnight after its formal launch in the country, Jonathan Friedland told The Economic Times that Netflix wants to build up a catalogue of Indian content for a broader audience, but would first concentrate on wealthier consumers who are attracted to western and global entertainment.
"Everybody has been saying Netflix does not have much Indian content," he said. "That's true and we will never ever have the deepest catalogue. We can't and we won't. That is not the way we think.
"We think about providing great stories from all over the world for people all over the world. We are not trying to be Eros or trying to do what Hungama or other leading Indian creators of entertainment do."
Netflix recognises that India is a "complicated" market, he said, so the company will target consumers who are likely to be English-speaking, enjoy western entertainment and own an international credit card or have an iTunes account.
However, as Netflix found in Brazil, it learns as it goes and improves content to make it more suitable for local tastes. "We are a learning machine, we improve and we get better," Friedland said.
He added that Netflix is including local content in many of the markets in which it operates, such as the UK, Italy and Mexico, so it is likely that "over time we would deepen our content in India to offer a wider service to a broader Indian population".
As Netflix does not depend on advertising, content and building a solid subscription base will be key to its success.
Pitching its monthly subscription at a price Indian consumers are prepared to pay will be crucial and Friedland confirmed Netflix's offer of about $8 (Rs 500) a month is aimed at the wealthier consumer.
That compares with the Rs 50 and Rs 100 monthly charge that Indian rival Eros introduced in December 2015 for its ErosNow OTT platform.
However, while Indian consumers on lower incomes may hesitate about paying higher charges for a premium service, some industry leaders expect the market to change.
"As the market matures and the viewer becomes more discerning, people will eventually pay for content they really want to see," said NP Singh, CEO of Sony Picture Networks.
Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff