Netflix witnesses big growth viewing in India owing to local originals during lockdown

Binge-watching content on OTT platforms have seen a humongous rise during nationwide imposed lockdown amid India’s war against COVID-19. And global streaming giant Netflix is no exception.  Apart from being one of the strongest players in the world, Netflix has a strong foothold in India as well. The streaming giant has witnessed big growth in viewership in the country led by originals owing to the lockdown, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos informed at its Q1 earnings call. According to the recent KalaGato (5 February to 29 March) report, Indians have spent 73 per cent more time on the platform, with an average of 80 minutes during lockdown in comparison to 46.4 minutes in pre-COVID period. “This could be a result of the different content library of the platform. Netflix creates the sensation of an endless well of content… and is built for binge-watching while the other feels more point and shoot,” the report mentioned.  In the same period, the open rate of Netflix went up by 68 per cent with its DAU (daily active users) jumping by 102 per cent. Most of it is accredited to the homegrown original content as Sarandos noted, “We’ve seen a big growth in viewing in India and have had great success for our local originals. Most recently, She and Guilty and a few others have been driving a lot of engagement in local content on our India service and they also are big fans of our global original content like Lacasa de Papel. So we’re growing the business of licensed originals, international and domestic, across the board in terms of content and content taste.” Accroding to BARC-Nielsen report on Consumption patterns during COVID disruption period, (between 4 to 10 April), out of 10 most popular shows in order of gross consumption in India, Netflix had five shows in the list, including Money Heist, Stranger Things, Sex Education, Narcos and Little Things. Besides SHE (from Tipping Point) and Guity (from Dharmatic Entertainment), the premium streaming powerhouse recently churned out a number of off-beat original series and movies like JaamtaraTaj Mahal 1989Yeh Ballet and others that have earned critical acclaim as well as audience appreciation.  In fact, Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings has recommended Sooni Taraporevala’s heart-warming story of two ballet dancers in the Q1 earnings call. Said he, Unorthodox and number blackAF are my picks. But an obscure little one is our Indian film Yeh Ballet, that’s just a great little film with some street dancers at Mumbai trying to make it into the world of ballet.” India has always remained a key market for the global video streaming player owing to its vast market across demographics with myriad tastes in content that’s offered to them. Hence Netflix has larger and more options to cater to the varied tastes. Keeping this mind, last year, it introduced a mobile-only plan of Rs.199 a month in India to suit the country’s preference and convenience for smartphones over laptops.  Moreover, the intention was to delve deeper into a market where its Rs. 500-a-month subscription plan was way too expensive compared to homegrown OTT services. The plan was significantly successful enabling Netflix to try it in other markets as well. After almost a year, it seems satisfied in the uptake of mobile-only plans as well as its overall growth in India. Commented Netflix chief product officer Greg Peters said in the earnings call, “It’s a mobile-only plan that we’ve tested for a while and we have rolled it out now in a bunch of countries: India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. And it’s consistent with the broad theme and goal that we have which is why we’re seeking effective ways to make the Netflix service more accessible to more and more people around the world. And it certainly has been performing the way we’ve expected, which is a significant increase and acceleration being able to add new members is great. Also from a revenue perspective, neutral to positive, which we think is a really great position to be in the long term for the business.” Well, given its sound understanding of the Indian market and genuine quality content, Netflix is sure to hold a top position in the Indian OTT game for a long time.