Netflix, the popular on-demand video streaming service, has announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that its services will now be available in India and around 190 other countries. In India, Netflix has already gone live with subscription rates starting Rs 500 per month and going all the way up to Rs 800 per month for a premium service with access to Ultra HD content. The one noticeable omission from Netflix’s big global rollout is of course China.
“Netflix was the first to allow binge watching and gave consumers control over entertainment. We have helped consumers discover value of entertainment on demand,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said at the CES keynote address.
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The version of the website for India fans will be quite different from those in US. While all Netflix original content will be available, along with some series, the number of Bollywood titled is limited to 100 right now.
“We are working with content creators in India to add more Bollywood titles, and also Indie local films. We are working on expanding licensing rights in India to add more variety of content, across languages,” Chitavan Pandya Patel, director content acquisition for Netflix, told IndianExpress.com and other select members of the Indian media.
Unlike regular Indian TV, Netflix is not yet censoring its content. “Of course, we don’t wish to flout any local laws. But we plan to take on this on case by case basis. For now all the content is uncensored on Netflix. We also do have a rating system for our content and that’s clearly visible when you’re watching a movie or show. So we will warn a user if a content has strong language, violence etc,” said Chris Jaffe Product Lead for Netflix. This rating system has been developed in-house by the company based on global ratings.
So far Netflix’s content has not been reviewed by the Censor Board and the company says it will watch and learn how reaction to its service pans out in India.
While the payment options are now limited to credit cards and PayPal, Jaffe said they could add more options in the coming months.
Netflix won’t be tying up with an ISP either in India for now and it hasn’t made any special tweaks to its service to account for the poor streaming speeds in India. Jaffe said a YouTube-like offline mode was “highly unlikely”.
On whether Netflix could eventually overshadow and outlast cable TV in India, the company’s director of content acquisition said that it was more about increasing access to content. “There are instances where Netflix and cable are coexisting. It’s not always about one or the other. We think there’s room to grow for everybody,” Pandaya said. Like the rest of the world, Netflix will continue to remain advertising free.
Netflix has continued with its global pricing strategy rather than offer a price cut for India, as is the norm. The company says that initially it plans to targets those with broadband connections in India.