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What Indian OTT platforms should learn from Netflix

India is bursting with OTT platforms with biggies to naïve players jumping on to the bandwagon with the hope of creating alternate revenue streams, be it A-VOD to subscription

Anshul Gupta | Delhi | August 5, 2016

What-Indian-OTT-platforms-should-learn-from-Netflix

I have been using Netflix since its launch in India and I must say it is one of the best OTT platforms I have come across so far in terms of excellent customer satisfaction, superb content and a TV like viewing experience. So how does Netflix manage it all?

Ever imagined how seamlessly House of cards streams to your 55” TV? Thanks to open connect appliance installations at ISPs around the world which prevents the internet pipe from choking and gives us a world class HD and above streaming experience.

The company operates its own content delivery network (CDN), a global network of storage servers that cache content close to your house where it will be viewed. That local caching reduces bandwidth costs and makes it easier to scale the service over a wide area. Netflix also designs its own storage hardware, custom built for streaming video. It uses two types of server, one based on hard disk drives and the other on flash drives, and both are optimized for high-density and low-power use.

Netflix-grp

Netflix has a huge library of content more than a petabyte so during quiet periods between midnight and lunchtime it prepopulates the servers with the content it thinks people will want to watch, reducing bandwidth use in peak hours.

Netflix also uses Amazon Web Services for tasks like running its website and its recommendations engine. Also, the movie studios upload their content to the Amazon cloud, where Netflix encodes it to its format before distributing it to its network. Indian OTTs are happy to shift from Google to Akamai CDNs and enable pre-rolls with subscription too.

Own thy content, consumers will follow: What better than investing in building your own award winning shows and releasing it worldwide anywhere without any legal wrangles? Buy a film from a producer and, trust me, you can only run it for limited time, geo locked with tons of other restrictions apart from a hefty licence fee/rev share and what not. Though Netflix does licence titles, the strategy of producing own shows has been working so far since there is complete control over its release.

 

Ad Free: Monetisation of content in the digital space is perhaps the most difficult task for any OTT platform or broadcaster. Replace advertising with pure subscription and awesome content that the user is bound to get accustomed to ad-free experience that he will come back or get used to passively paying you every month.

When content gets cached closer to your home all you need is a decent internet connection to bring content from your ISP to your house. The speed at which it loads content is simply amazing (even at a sucky internet speed). The app further lets you restrict data usage (cellular or wi-fi).

Player controls to the user: Try using it with Chromecast and you will love the Netflix experience even more. Start/Stop anytime even with the phone locked or browse while the current video is playing. The classic html5 video player gives complete control to the user and is one of the best in its class.

Amazing distribution: Netflix app is available to almost in every play store on earth to every smart TV with the aim of being present wherever the customer wants it to be.

Ask an Indian broadcaster to give you his app for your smart TV or for a  local play store (except Google) and they will start ranting about how they want complete control and why they deserve a minimum guarantee/embedding fee for their content pirated the moment it’s out.

Say you are coming out with your own TV or a tablet brand, don’t even try going to an Indian broadcaster, Netflix doesn’t mind being embedded at all.

Persistent play & content recommendation: Trust Netflix to remember what, when which device and exactly where you left an episode! Five individual profiles let you customise your list to play an episode where you left it. The content recommendation engine actually helps you discover content. I have been watching French shows like Versailles to a show they recently put in my spotlight section – a very secret service, with sub-titles available in various languages it gives the user a chance to discover world content.

What features Netflix could add:

  • Offline Download:

At present it doesn’t support offline download and don’t see them rolling out this feature in the near future. This would work really well in third world countries where setting up Open connect and internet speeds are still not par for streaming.

  • App in multiple languages:

A Netflix app in Hindi, Spanish, etc. If rolled out, would definitely help to increase its reach & further expand its base of audience.

  • Operator based/Wallet billing: Their minimum buy in Rs 500 whereas to integrate fortumo or centile in India the operator supports only up to Rs 150. If they do a deal with Indian operators or Indian wallet guys like Paytm, maybe it would further help in increasing their subscriptions and would ease the consumer as well or maybe they don’t care at all to place reliance on third party systems and believe in interacting with the consumer directly.

So sit back, relax and enjoy the Netflix experience.

(Anshul Gupta is Senior Brand Manager at Times Internet and has previously worked with Ditto TV, ZEEL’s OTT platform, as Brand Manager.)

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