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What’s Troubling Netflix in India?

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Jul. 29 2019, Updated 7:35 a.m. ET

Netflix meets resistance from Disney-owned competitor in India

Netflix (NFLX) is struggling to dominate India’s online video market like it has in the US, where it boasts a subscriber base twice as large as that of its closest competitor, Hulu. Netflix exited the first quarter with 60.2 million US subscribers, whereas Hulu had 26.8 million.

As The Wall Street Journal reported last week, Netflix has not had a major break in India since launching there in 2016. Hotstar, a local video service that launched in India in 2015, is giving Netflix a run for its money. Hotstar is now owned by Walt Disney (DIS), which bought its parent, Star India, as part of a $71.3 billion transaction with Fox (FOX).

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Netflix taps former Viacom executive for its India strategy

IHS Markit estimates that Netflix has 1.2 million subscribers in India, less than half of Hotstar’s 3.0 million. Amazon (AMZN) Prime Video has 2.5 million subscribers in the country.

Although currently overshadowed in India, Netflix has not surrendered to the competition. The company is fighting back using Hotstar strategies such as slashing prices to be affordable to ordinary Indian consumers and producing shows in local languages—there are close to two dozen official languages spoken in India. At the moment, Netflix has 19 India shows and movies in production. To bolster its competitiveness in India, Netflix has hired former Viacom (VIAB) creative executive Monika Shergill to head its India original programming.

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