Netflix is the world’s top video streaming service that allows users to watch content on screens ranging from a smartphone to a smart television. It works with a variety of other devices like PlayStation and Apple TV, letting users stream directly onto larger screen. Netflix is also the creator of a lot of original, made for the web content, much of which is now in high-resolution Ultra HD.
“Netflix is entering India at the right time,” analyst Tarun Pathak at Counterpoint Technology Research told Reuters. Netflix will compete in India with the likes of Star’s Hotstar, Singapore-based Spuul, Hungama, Eros Now, Muvizz, and many others in what is becoming an increasingly crowded space in a country that remains bogged down by slow Internet speeds.
Netflix has finally launched in India, and users can choose from three plans with prices starting from Rs 500 per month. While the arrival created the expected excitement, it is slowly subsiding as users are seeing the reality after signing up.
In a price conscious market like India, Netflix has done well to keep the pricing of the plans on par with the US prices. While subscribers will get unlimited access to all Netflix movies and TV shows, including Indian content, the reality is far from the truth.
How is the service priced in India?
Netflix India has pricing similar to its primary US market and users will be able to pay as low as Rs 500 to watch shows and movies on a single screen at one time. For Rs 650, they will get access to two simultaneous screens and four for Rs 800 — this also has UHD content. The first month is free for all users and they can pay using PayPal and credit card only at the moment. An initial fee of Rs 70 ($1) is charged during sign-up to authenticate the card.
Is the content censored?
During sign-up you have to specify if you are above 18 and this means there is not going to be a lot of censored content, while everything will be rated. However, while creating a profile Netflix lets you identify children so that they don’t get access to any adult content.
Is there a lot of local content?
No. For now Netflix has limited Indian content, but they are working on getting more partners on board. An initial recce suggests all the popular Bollywood classics are there from Piku to Hum Aapke Hai Kaun. However, Netflix is going to be a big boost for independent cinema, which does not get many screens to show on in India.
How can I watch the content?
It is best to watch on the television, provided your screen is smart or is yoked to an Android box or Apple TV. Alternatively, you can use Chromecast as the Netflix apps is supported by the streaming dongle. You can watch the shows on a laptop, tablet or smartphone, or use a MHL or HDMI cable to mirror this on your television.
Is bandwidth in India and issue?
Since this is the first question most people are asking, we decided to test this bit. I used the service on a MacBook Pro using a 1 Mbps Wi-Fi connection and the streaming was quite smooth after 30 seconds or so of initial buffering. The picture quality does scale down at times, but it restores within seconds. On an iPhone 6S Plus running LTE, the picture quality was great and the streaming seamless.
Does India have the full catalogue?
The Netflix catalogue is limiting and a lot of content is not even showing up on search. For instance, I could not search and find House of Cards, which is a Netflix production. However, all the new titles are there and there is no dearth of titles that India has never had access to.
Are there other Netflix like options in India?
Yes, there are services like Hooq and BoxTV that offer similar services at cheaper price points. But they cannot compete with Netflix that creates a lot of exclusive content that is popular globally. Also, not all services are able to offer seamless play on all four screens (smartphones, tablets, laptops and televisions).
Will the service find takers in India?
Yes, because this gives access to content otherwise not available in India — at least not legally. A lot of users with expensive UHD televisions and will finally have access to high-resolution content that put their TVs to full use. Also, globally Netflix has been responsible for a cultural shift is how video content is consumed. And it is to cater to this binge watching phenomenon that the company released full seasons of its popular series House of Cards exclusively online.
The company has major plans for 2016. It will be debuting its first talk show, and a movie starring Brad Pitt among others. Netflix has also reserved exclusive rights to releases from Walt Disney this year.
Slowing growth in the United States has put pressure on Netflix to grow internationally and India – with over 300 million Internet users and a potential 1.2 billion plus that could come online in the next few years – is being seen as its next big growth market. Before Wednesday’s announcement, Netflix was available in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and parts of Europe.
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