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Netflix has launched in India as part of the company’s global rollout in 130 countries unveiled by CEO Reed Hastings at CES, Las Vegas.
In addition to drawing on Netflix’s international content library, the service includes Indian content such as recent Bollywood titles Piku, Heropanti and Singh Is King along with hits from the nineties such as romantic capers Hum Aapke Hain Koun and Maine Pyar Kiya, both starring top actor Salman Khan.
Also being offered are titles reflecting the new wave of Indian independent arthouse cinema such as Ship of Theseus, Fandry and The Good Road, among others.
Following a free one-month trial, the service is available at three prices: $7.50 (500 rupees) for one screen and standard definition; $9.80 (650 rupees) for two screens and High Definition; $12.12 (800 rupees) for four screens and HD and UltraHD.
As reported earlier, in a first of sorts for an Indian film, Netflix streamed acclaimed director Anurag Kashyap’s two-part crime epic Gangs of Wasseypur as a four part series exclusively on its North American service.
Netflix’s arrival in India is expected to shake up the digital VOD market which includes various competitors such as ErosNow from leading film major Eros International. The service claims over 30 million users and draws on its parent company’s catalog of over 3,000 Indian titles.
Last year, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures and Singapore telecom giant Singtel launched ad-free service Hooq offering Hollywood content from Sony, Warner, Disney, Dreamworks and Miramax along with Indian content from leading banners. Hooq is offered at a monthly price of $3 (rupees 199). Another ad-free service Hotstar, backed by Fox’s Star India network draws on the network’s vast content library.
India seems a fertile market for VOD uptake given that Internet penetration and mobile connectivity are increasing rapidly. According to a recent industry report by consultants KPMG India, the country had about 280 million Internet users in 2014, with growth largely spurred by the increasing penetration of smartphones (116 million in 2014). The report predicts that India is expected to reach 640 million Internet users by 2019.
Additionally, India’s total mobile subscriber base just touched the billion user mark with the country already the second-largest mobile market in the world after China, which has 1.27 billion users.
However, streaming services in India face some very real infrastructure problems. Existing Internet speeds are still an obstacle, with average speeds at 2 mbps compared to the U.S. average of 11.5 mbps. But mobile content delivery could start to improve thanks to the recent launch of faster 4G services by telecom majors such as Airtel and Reliance Jio.
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