Does Netflix’s entry into the Indian Market spell disaster for the Indian Blockbuster business?
Netflix’s stronghold lies in its ability to create original content and India has been promised local stories to cater to the eclectic taste of watchers. Its subscription only business model ensures that ads don’t pop up when you are engrossed in a show. Content devoid of censorship, dynamic library with constant addition of content, suggestions based on mood by creating multiple profiles provide an extra ‘oomph’ to the popularity of Netflix as well as a reason for the Indian Blockbuster Business to hit the panic button.
The rickety infrastructure in India does pose a threat to Netflix’s grandiose schemes. Netflix, however, uses clever algorithms that predict the drop in the connection speed and accordingly changes the streaming quality so that the episode runs for as long as possible. Data usage settings as Low (0.3GB/hr), Medium (0.7GB/hr), High (3GB/hr for HD and 7 GB/hr for Ultra HD) and Auto provide a judicious data cap and the monthly subscription rates have been designed keeping the niche market of Independent Cinema lovers and English TV show binge watchers in mind and therefore rates starting from Rs. 500 are not bothersome. Henceforth, the offerings Netflix provides are enough to create a gradual shift in the blockbuster business.With such a vast array of video on demand available on the interface of your choice, anytime, anywhere, why would any TV series aficionado want to go anywhere else?
The much-maligned “Bollywood Blockbuster” is the love-child of the masses’ nigh unquenchable thirst for entertainment and the Indian film industry’s stubborn knack of sticking to the proven formula. Their consumers come from diverse places of origin and social strata- be it the 30 year old auto-rickshaw driver looking to end the week with light-hearted entertainment or the 18 year old engineering student indulging in a guilty pleasure. The Chennai Expresses and the Happy New Years of India are here to stay, bolstered by the 13000 odd single screen theatres in India that cater to the “Big Billion”, the 1500 odd multiplexes notwithstanding.
Unless Netflix acquires rights to or decides to produce local content with mass-appeal, Bollywood would not be bothered about it. Even if Netflix does come out with such content in the future, the design of the service itself would restrict it to those with access to computer screens. It can thus be safely said that Netflix will fit into a very distinct niche of the entertainment market without causing the Bollywood honchos too much headache.