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Netflix: We are just getting started in India; Q3FY2019 earnings

Netflix shares soared 15% after reporting its Q3FY2019 earnings and recording 130 million paid subscribers and 7 million on free trial. The company added 998,000 paid memberships in the US, and 5 million in the international market this quarter. Revenues from the domestic and international markets fell in the same ballpark. Streaming revenue grew 36% from the same quarter last year. Greg Peters said the company is exploring partnerships with ISPs, telecom operators and carrier billing deals to bring more subscribers onboard.

In Q2FY2019, the company had reported 130 million subscribers but did not given a breakdown between paid and free subscribers.

Netflix in India

Chief Product Officer Greg Peters said Netflix is “just getting started in India” and that the company has a long runway ahead of itself. Netflix launched its first Indian original show ‘Sacred Games’ in July and followed it up with ‘Ghoul’ in August. Since Netflix doesn’t release viewing data for its titles, it’s not possible to know how successful the show has been, although Netflix said the show was a “hit”.

Co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings hinted that Netflix will move further into Hindi and “many more languages”, pricing options, bundling with other services to garner a mass subscriber base in the country. Netflix acknowledged that India is “somewhat of a tough market”.

Carrier partnerships

Partnerships in India to expand subscriber base is ongoing; the company signed carrier billing deals with Airtel and Hathway since Q2FY2019 financials were reported. Netflix first signed a carrier billing in India with Vodafone last year; postpaid customers could pay for Netflix on their monthly bills. Netflix also bundled its Basic subscription plan to postpaid customers who spent more than Rs 1,299 per month.

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  • Last month’s carrier billing deal with Hathway Broadband will give Hathway subscribers a new set top box with inbuilt Netflix, and a shortcut button on the remote to launch the Netflix app.
  • Airtel will give away three months of Netflix free to some mobile and broadband subscribers.

Netflix has just released two big-ticket TV series and a couple of original films that it acquired from Ronnie Screwvala’s RSVP. It has over fourteen original series on its upcoming slate from India, including a prequel to the Baahubali series. The company also inked a deal with DICE Media for two low-cost web series.

Sacred Games legal case

In August, advocate Nikhil Bhalla asked the government to create a regulatory board for online streaming companies, after he filed a petition against Netflix. Bhalla appealed the court to censor a dialogue where former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is called a ‘wimp’ in Sacred Games. After Netflix refused to do so, he changed his petition to regulate online content in India. Read more here.

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