Netflix and its global competitor Amazon have been battling over users in India for some time. With India’s massive growth in smartphone and broadband users, the pool of potential new customers is too large to ignore.
It’s estimated that by 2022 the country will have around 829 million smartphone users. Not only that but the video-on-demand industry could make a giant leap from $500 million to $5 billion by 2023.
So, what’s stopping them?
They’ve initially started by lowering the price to grab the attention of their potential new market. But it’s not the only thing they need to be thinking about.
Local competitor, Disney’s Hotstar, made giant leaps in building its user base. They did so by streaming on demand cricket matches that are extremely popular in India.
As standard, there’s plenty of content to enjoy on Netflix that’s not just entertainment. With the option to learn about different cultures, skills or hobbies – from how to play casino to glass blowing sculptures – there’s plenty of great content to choose from.
But they do have to ask themselves, what will be appropriate in the new market?
The price of streaming in India
Currently, Netflix’s biggest markets are the U.S, Brazil and Canada. That could all be about to change if they manage to connect successfully with India’s market.
But, one of the biggest issues that is blocking their path is the large amount of global and local competition. India also has a sensitivity to price which holds some obstacles.
One of the biggest competitors in India is the Bollywood industry. Here, broadcasters have aligned themselves with wireless carriers backed by billionaires. These competitors have been drawing India’s users in with extremely competitive prices. Some of these services cost as little as $0.40 a month, or in some cases they’re completely free!
Netflix has gone some way to compete with this with the introduction of their mobile-only service that’s priced at their lowest ever fee. It costs less than half the price of other markets and invests in local content at an exponential rate compared to what they’ve done in other areas.
The competition between streaming services
Although it’s predicted that Netflix is set to nearly triple their subscribers in India this year, it is possible that this could all go out of the window thanks to plans from competitors.
For instance, the likes of Zee Entertainment and Balaji Telefilms are lining up their content with mobile phone services. If these all go ahead then the majority of smartphone users in India will have decades worth of content offered to them instantly.
Balaji Telefilms are also planning to focus their attention on creating exclusive content that’s also in Hindi, India’s most used language.
The language barrier
Despite Hindi being India’s most commonly used language, only 40% of the population have it as their first language. Not only this but only 12% of the population speak English as their second language.
In total, there are 450 different languages spoken in India, although only 22 are recognised as official languages. This understandably poses a fair amount of challenges to any streaming service attempting to break ground in the market.
Netflix has committed to focus on Hindi and English. But Hotstar does already provides content in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada as well as Hindi and English. Above all else, this could prove the biggest barrier for Netflix.