Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Why the "Next 100 Million" Subscribers Will Be "Coming From India"

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Reed Hastings

He sees the country’s "phenomenal" Internet growth driving future expansion as estimates say that the streaming video giant currently has just over half a million subscribers in India.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said during a visit to the country that the streaming video giant’s next 100 million subscribers will be "coming from India" given the fast growth of Internet connectivity and usage.

Speaking at the Economic Times Global Business Summit in New Delhi on Friday at a panel entitled "The Future of Entertainment," Hastings was quoted by Indian media reports as saying: "Given the consumer base, the next 100 million [subscribers] for us is coming from India."

Hastings added that the country is “the most phenomenal example anywhere in the world of low Internet costs, expansion of 4G. We didn’t see that coming and we just got lucky on that one."

The Netflix boss was referring to the timing of the company’s India launch in January 2016, which was followed some months later by the launch of telecom major Reliance Jio’s 4G and broadband services at cutthroat pricing, which led established competitors to also lower their rates. Backed by billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, by the end of 2017 Reliance Jio had reached 160 million subscribers.

Netflix recently said that it had more than 117 million subscribers worldwide in over 190 countries as of the end of 2017, but it didn't disclose its user figures for India.

Hastings did not reveal Netflix’s current subscriber count in India either, only saying in an interview with the Economic Times newspaper: "What we can tell is that the international segment as a whole is over 60 million and grown over 40 percent year over year. India is a key part of that, and we are continuing to see that success throughout the world."

According to a recent estimate from consultancy Media Partners Asia, Netflix currently has just over 500,000 subscribers in India, projecting that by 2020 this figure could reach 2.5 million.

MPA estimates that in the Asia Pacific region, Netflix had 5.5 million subscribers as of the end of 2017, and “momentum in India could push [the] APAC total to 9 million in 2020.” Excluding Australia and New Zealand, MPA analysis suggests Netflix’s subscriber base in Asia Pacific was close to 2.4 million in 2017, “driven by steady gains in Japan, India and parts of Southeast Asia.”

In India, Netflix is available for a monthly subscription price of $7.80 to $12.30 (500 to 800 rupees), which Hastings said was “about what a movie ticket would cost." He explained: "We would like consumers to compare it with that [rather] than what they pay for cable TV.” India has an estimated 155 million pay TV subscribers.