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Netflix is looking at partnering with Indian studios for local content: Jessica Lee

After launching globally, Netflix is adopting a localization strategy. In India, the video streaming company has acquired rights for an Indian movie, ‘Braham Naman’, directed by ‘Q’

Archit Ambekar | Mumbai | April 26, 2016

jessica_lee Jessica Lee

Yes, you read it right. After its global launch, Netflix is now going local in each one of the 130 countries in which it has a presence ? including India. The video streaming player has received a tremendous response from subscribers after opening up globally.

The much sought after video streaming player, which has gone live in 130 countries, has already given a jolt to existing players in respective markets. The one thing that works for Netflix is its content. While rivals in the market run on models like freemium and advertising, Netflix has been successfully operating on subscription.

It’s only been three months since Netflix launched in India. In a chat with, Jessica Lee, Director Communications, Netflix Asia, spoke of the company’s strategy and outlook in the days ahead and shared some statistics from Netflix’s earnings letter. Excerpts:

What was the response to Netflix’s global launch?

The response has been very good. We’ve reached a global audience who are tech savvy and well-travelled and know about us. So that is one big advantage for us.

To what extent has your subscriber base increased since the launch?

Prior to the global launch, we had 75 million subscriptions. In the last quarter, we’ve added about 6.7 million taking the total figure to 81.7 million subscribers worldwide.

What is your content strategy?

We have begun by offering English content in all the 130 countries we launched in. The content just keeps improving and the word of mouth also keeps growing. So, we’re very excited about that format. Not only that, we are expanding from producing original series to producing movies as the world moves from linear TV to internet TV. We haven’t seen full potential though as we offer only English content to consumers who have international credit cards.

Our investment in original content for kids and families has helped make Netflix a destination for great creators of live action and animated television. We have already forged partnerships for content in India, Korea, France, Germany and Egypt so far. As we grow, you will get to see the other developments.

With our footprint now virtually global, Netflix is uniquely positioned to bring stories from all over the world to people all over the world. We’ve stepped up production of non-English language series.

To what extent is Netflix localising content?

We are offering English content and we are looking for studio partnerships and associations to produce local content. We acquired rights for the movie ‘Brahman Naman’ from the maverick Indian director Qaushiq Mukherjee, popularly known as ‘Q’. The second quarter will see a lot of content enhancement across countries.

We are looking at partnering with Indian studios and production houses. In fact, we are looking at independent directors from different countries so that we could make the best of content. We’ve always thrived to give the best of content. That has been our unique selling point (USP) and exactly the reason why we have such a high number of subscribers.

Who are your existing partners?

Similar to our content portfolio, our partnerships have expanded in scope over the years, growing in importance with the launch of our service across the world. Originally focused on consumer electronics device integration, Netflix partnerships now span a wide array of relationships with pay TV and mobile operators, Internet service providers, mobile device and set top box manufacturers, and brick and mortar retailers (gift cards).

How are you coping with the bandwidths challenge?

We started rolling out new and more efficient encodes during Q1, offering either 20 per cent savings in data, or a commensurate increase in quality, depending on whether a consumer is bandwidth limited or not. This will be reflected in our ISP speed index reports as a small reduction in average bit rate across all ISPs, but most of the value is realized in improved quality for our customers. We are now turning our attention to mobile­ specific encodes, with a desire to deliver better video at lower bandwidth to these devices, which are increasingly important in our newest markets.

Are you thinking of taking your content offline?

While other players are doing that, it works well for them. Netflix primarily being a streaming player will continue to do that. However, after expanding globally where there are network issues, we will be open to think about taking the content offline.

How stiff is the competition in your business?

If you think about your last 30 days, and analyze the evenings you did not watch Netflix, you can understand how broad our competition really is. Whether you played video games, surfed the web, wandered through YouTube, read a book, streamed Hulu or Amazon, or pirated content – hopefully not – you can see the market for relaxation time and disposable income is huge, and we are but a little boat in a vast sea. For instance, while we’ve grown from zero to 47 million members in the USA, HBO has also grown, which shows how large the entertainment market is. We earn a tiny fraction of consumers’ time and money, and have lots of opportunity ahead to win more of your evenings away from all those other activities, if we can keep improving.

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