The curious case of Netflix in India

There has been a buzz in the online entertainment market since past few weeks. The reason behind this is Netflix - the online entertainment platform which offers shows on the go and has now knocked the doors of Indian customers and is offering the services free of cost for the first month.

Starting its plans for Rs 500 a month, it doesn't seem to impress the Indian audience that has been paying around Rs 300 for normal TV channels. Also, Netflix has made only 630 titles on offer while there are actually 4,830 titles offered in the United States. And if that was not enough, the presence of Torrent in almost every Indian’s computer makes it more difficult for Netflix to leave a dent in the Indian market.

“Well everyone is excited about the launch but it's paid. And in India everyone's downloading stuff from the torrents, so I don't think it's going to work until they provide free subscription for some time and let everyone get the habit of it,” says Manas Abrol, a final year mechanical engineering student.
 
Started by Mark Randolph and Reed Hastings in 1997, Netflix was a monthly DVD rental service that gave users the freedom to keep the DVDs for as long as they wanted to, without any late fee. (it covered that in its charges). Later, in 2010, it started offering standalone streaming services.

Contrary to popular belief, Netflix didn’t bring about a television revolution in the US. That started years ago with shows like The Sopranos and The Wire. What Netflix altered, though, was how entertainment was consumed. Later, it also introduced its “video suggestions” based on the history of whatever people watched from their accounts.

With Netflix now in India, can we expect it to alter the way we consume entertainment? Not so soon. The connection speed seems a hindrance in the way of people to enjoy the shows. There is a lag and a since the connectivity is not good in many parts of the country, there is still a lot to be done for that.

“Actually Netflix is on beta stage now. They’re testing it and it should be better in a matter of a few weeks. However, in a country where you don’t even get a 3G connection in many places, there is going to be problem watching the videos without a lag,” tells Rishabh Rai, a second year student at Delhi University, who’s using Netflix from the first day. Indian platform of NetFlix offers shows like Marvel’s Daredevil and Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Grace and Frankie, Master of None, Narcos and Marco Polo. For documentary lovers, it offers What Happened, Miss Simone? the docu-series Chef’s Table, Making a Murderer, and the Oscar-nominated Virunga, among others.

 On the film side, it has Beasts of No Nation and The Ridiculous Six. And for kids, Netflix has dozens of original series including The Adventures of Puss ‘n Boots and Dragons: Race to the Edge and the upcoming family show Fuller House.

However, some very famous shows like House of Cards, which is a NetFlix production and the Walking Dead, are not there on the list. Also, Indian shows like Sarabhai vs Sarabhai and Dekh Bhai Dekh are not seen anywhere in the list. Although, the Netflix team says that the list will double in a year after the launch, the wait seems too long for the Indian audience.

Since the consumption of English entertainment in India is small and is still growing, we can expect a little more time for Breaking Bad to replace, say, Diyaa aur Baati Hum.

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