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Will mobile-only plan help Netflix thrive in India?

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Will mobile-only plan help Netflix thrive in India?

Sunday, 11 August 2019 | IANS | New Delhi

Will mobile-only plan help Netflix thrive in India?

Riding on the back of cheap data plans, over-the-top (OTT) apps for entertainment are gaining traction in India and as many as four out of five users now have at least one OTT entertainment platform installed on their devices.

Indians today spend 30 per cent of their phone time and over 70 per cent of their mobile data on entertainment, said a FICCI-EY 2019 report. 

After losing its customer base in the US for the first time in eight years in the second quarter (Q2) of 2019, the California-headquartered Netflix is now aiming to gain a bigger share of the Indian streaming market and come close to rivals like Hotstar and Amazon Prime.

Netflix currently has close to 1.3 million subscribers in India and has the potential to reach 3.7 million subscribers by the end of this year, says CyberMedia Research (CMR).

The company unveiled its mobile subscription plan for India at Rs 199 per month late last month. This is its fourth Indian plan, in addition to the existing basic, standard and premium plans which are priced between Rs 499 and Rs 799.

Netflix began testing a low-cost subscription plan for India in March this year. The question is: Will it be able to woo over 450 million smartphone users in the country?

Its rival Hotstar's subscription plans also start at Rs 199 per month while Amazon Prime Video -- a part of Amazon's Prime subscription -- costs Rs 129 each month.

Hotstar is the most penetrated OTT Entertainment App with 49 per cent smartphone users having it installed on their devices and Amazon Prime Video has a slightly better penetration than Netflix, says market research firm techARC.

Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC, said: "Over the past three years, we have seen a lot of enablement both from the smartphone OEMs as well as operators. This has facilitated growth of OTT entertainment services as well as the consumption."

Prime Video penetration is 15 per cent as compared to 13 per cent of Netflix, which is result of Amazon's close relationship with some smartphone original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) where its apps like Amazon Shopping and Amazon Prime Video come pre-loaded.

According to CMR, despite the stiff competition that OTT platforms face, the headroom for growth, especially in Tier-II and Tier-III towns riding on the ubiquitous smartphone, is strong. 

"For many Indians, mobile is the primary conduit for everything, including content consumption. The 'mobile-only' plan is a smart move by Netflix to build on its success in India and tap into and hook new consumers. How many of those eyeballs get retained over the long run will depend on the content stickiness, across genres," Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, told IANS.

The streaming major currently has some of the biggest Bollywood names including Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Saif Ali Khan and Shah Rukh Khan working with it on its original content.

By the end of 2020, a total of 15 new original Indian films (including previously announced titles "Music Teacher", "Cobalt Blue", "Chopsticks", "Upstarts" and "Bulbul") will be available to Netflix members around the world, the company had earlier said.

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