15/04/2021   Zuzana Henkova
Netflix chases Indian subscribers with local content

Netflix has commissioned more Indian titles in Q1 2021 than in the whole of either 2019 or 2020, in a push to attract more subscribers in the country. In March 2021, it released a slate of new, original Indian content promising ‘’more variety and diversity’’ than ever before. The 18 original titles commissioned by Netflix in India in Q1 2021 already exceed the 12 titles commissioned for the country in both 2020 and 2019. 

These recent commissions are in part a response to the launch of Disney+ Hotstar in April 2020, a rebranding of an already well-established local subscription streaming service. Disney+ Hotstar offers not only a sizeable library of original Indian content, a vital component of any successful service in the country, but also an array of high-profile US titles, typically Netflix’s unique selling point.  By combining Disney+ and Hotstar the service is already the second largest SVoD platform in the country, with 27.8m subscribers at year end 2020. In comparison Netflix languishes in eighth position in this highly competitive market with 2.5m subscribers. 

Preference for local content among VoD consumers in India was identified by Ampere’s November 2020 Content localisation report. Our analysis identified a significant gap in Netflix’s relatively small offer of original local content when compared to other key players. As of February 2021, content produced in India amounts to 730 titles, 10% of Netflix’s overall title catalogue in the country. The number of locally produced titles by Disney+ Hotstar, in comparison, stands at 6,178 representing 69.3% of their catalogue. 

The recent spike in local Indian content commissioning by Netflix signifies the company’s awareness of the viewing preferences in the region. Original shows such as Aranyak, Mai and the star-studded Ray, all set to release later in 2021, may help give Netflix more of an edge. However, without a significant further boost in local content Netflix will struggle to establish itself as a key player in India, let alone a competitor to Disney+ Hotstar. 

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