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Netflix trying to get on more TV set top boxes in India

India may be one of the most mobile-heavy markets for Netflix, but the company is continuing to invest in being on more actual TVs. “We are actively engaged with cable operator partners in India to get Netflix included in set-top boxes that are already present in the homes of millions of people,” Nigel Baptiste, who heads partner engagement at Netflix, told the Economic Times. He added that he hoped some providers would even add a dedicated Netflix button on the set-top boxes’ remote controls.

The company’s TV experience is a standard one that is easy for cable and DTH providers to install in set-top boxes, provided they are internet-enabled and have enough memory. Since Netflix uses the internet to stream content even on cable set-top boxes, it leaves a very small data footprint. In fact, the TV app is available within a VR version of Netflix that consumes around as much data as the regular mobile app.

Netflix in India

As such, smart TVs from manufacturers like LG have had Netflix in India already even before the service launched in the country. Vu, a Mumbai-based TV manufacturer, released TVs — both smart and regular — with the app pre-installed during CES 2016 itself, the event where the company announced its international expansion. Earlier this year, Airtel became the first DTH provider to team up with the streaming service, with its Android TV-enabled set top box. Since Netflix already had an app for Android TV, Netflix had to do little more than contribute a quote to Airtel’s press release on the set-top box upgrade. The month before that, Videocon’s d2h satellite TV box also added the TV app.

India is one of Netflix’s few mobile-first markets, where more users use the service on a smartphone primarily. Buoyed by Reliance Jio, the company has said, streaming and subscriber growth has gone up significantly. Some months after Jio released to the general public, it had 2–3 lakh subscribers. The company has also been growing its ISP partnerships, shipping out caches of its videos to ISPs so that they can serve videos directly to their consumers without paying international data transit fees every time consumers watch shows and movies.

The company has also announced a few original series — Sacred Games, which was announced last year, starring Saif Ali Khan, Radhika Apte and Nawazuddin Siddiqui; Selection Day, Again, and Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment-produced Bard of Blood. None of the announced shows have any tentative release dates yet. The company also bought a Ronnie Screwvala-produced film called Love Per Square Foot, starring Angira Dhar, Ratna Pathak, and Vicky Kaushal. The film is about a couple looking for an apartment in Mumbai.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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