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Can Netflix’s Original Content Penetrate the Indian Market?

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Aug. 1 2018, Published 1:29 p.m. ET

India remains a key market

Netflix (NFLX) is aiming at the emerging Indian market, buoyed by more smartphone use, a rising middle class, and increased 4G (fourth-generation) adoption. India is the second-most-populated country after China with the seventh-largest economy in the world. It’s an important market for Netflix.

From the graph above, you can see the international subscriber growth for Netflix in the last five quarters.

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Strong original content to counter competition

Based on the above factors, Netflix is making a huge investment in the Indian market. It has tied up with big-screen Bollywood director Anurag Kashyap and actors Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui to launch its first original series, Sacred Games, for the Indian public. It was the perfect answer to Amazon (AMZN) Prime Video’s hit series Breathe starring superstar R. Madhavan.

Netflix is also set to launch Ghoul starring Radhika Apte. It’s the company’s first supernatural series for Indian audiences. The new horror miniseries will be produced by Blumhouse Productions and Phantom Films. Blumhouse Productions is an American film and television production company that produced hit horror flicks Insidious, The Purge, and Oscar-nominated Get Out.

In 2018, Netflix launched two original films, Lust Stories and Love per Square Foot, for Indian viewers. Other original series to hit the Indian small screen include Bard of Blood, Selection Day, and Crocodile.

Mitigating major headwinds

Despite the rollout of 4G (fourth-generation) service, network speeds in India often fluctuate. In order to offset that headwind, Netflix has introduced a downloading option that allows users to watch shows uninterrupted.

The Indian TV market is largely dominated by regional shows due to its diverse culture and languages. To tap Indian audiences, Netflix will need to launch more regional shows. The company has plans to cover the diverse Indian market with multilingual shows.

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