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Netflix doubles down in India with deals with Airtel, Vodafone and Videocon D2H


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Netflix is doubling down on growing its business in India with partnerships with Airtel, Vodafone and Videocon D2H. With Airtel and Videocon, the agreement details integrating the Netflix app on their direct-to-home services. The video streaming company will partner with Vodafone for their pre-paid programs and will enable payment integration, allowing Vodafone customers in India to pay for their Netflix subscriptions via their monthly bill.

With Videocon D2H, the Netflix app will be installed on the set-top box and the remote will have a dedicated button to launch the app. Videocon clarified that the set-top box will have to be connected to the Internet through any Wifi or Ethernet connection for accessing a curated set of applications. The minimum internet speed needed is 2 Mbps.

Netflix launched its service globally in January 2016, including India. It has been slow in stepping up their India efforts. They have only announced one original show being co-produced with Phantom, and a single stand-up comedy special by Vir Das. They have also been licensing some critically acclaimed independent films from India, in addition to an exclusive deal with Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment.

“Working with some of India’s top artists, we cannot wait to bring more locally-produced series and films to our more than 93 million members households around the world,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in a statement.

Netflix’s India subscriber base

Based on service tax records, MediaNama estimated that Netflix has around 211,500-337,300 paying subscribers from India. Netflix does not reveal per-country subscription counts outside the US. Note that the video streaming company has been decidedly cautious in the Indian market, and is only targeting elites in the country for now.

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Competition 

Netflix’s competitors in India include Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, Eros Now, nexGTv, and Hungama. Amazon Prime Video is bundling video streaming with their Rs 499/999 annual Prime membership compared to Netflix’s monthly fee starting at Rs 500.

Meanwhile, Eros Now is building their paid user base with telecom operator for distribution. It crossed 2 million paid users in January. Eros Now has tie-ups with 20 telecom operators globally. The company does 5-9 year deals with telecom operators, most deals have some kind of minimum guarantee payments, or subscriber guarantee. More details here.

Meanwhile, Hotstar is betting on the freemium model in India. It launched premium subscriptions for Rs 199 per month offering an exclusive selection of movies and TV shows. Other TV channel listings from Star India, Star Sports etc, are available for free but are ad supported (ad-free for members). The app is offering a free month of trial membership before users are required to pay.

Hungama has been partnering with internet and telecom providers with bundled packages.

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