Can Netflix Revolutionize the Indian Television Landscape?
An average Indian’s movie watching experience at home comprises of mainly 3 things: Drama, Action and Advertisements. For every 20 minutes of a movie show time, 5 minutes are spent on watching commercials prodding the viewer to buy a product in their next shopping trip or enticing young minds to spend on something they do not need. Despite developing an immunity towards such extravagant commercials, the poor viewers don’t even get to watch the latest movies as per their liking. They have no choice but to watch what’s being shown by the channels.
Then there is the smart TV generation, who download movies from the internet (mostly torrents) so they can have a full control over their movie watching experience, synced with their schedules and completely (well mostly if you are not streaming) advertisement free. But they have to bear with another set of problems such as video quality, availability of torrent, or pay heavy ticket prices at a multiplex.
Neither of the above two viewing experiences is complete in itself. Hence, recently India had started seeing an upsurge in availability of better viewing experience services such as hotstar, Hooq and Ogle. You could view multiple high quality videos at your convenience for free or for a small fee. The only issue: content was limited. The entertainment giant Netflix, who had already cracked the content availability issue by generating quality content (some really popular TV shows and movies such as House of Cards, Narcos, etc), saw this as the ripe opportunity to expand in the Indian and APAC regions and cater to the growing demand of a better viewing experience at reasonable prices. What do we get? Unlimited video streams in SD/HD quality right on our devices without distractions or piracy concerns for as low as ₹500 per month. There could be no better timing than when the market is just beginning to bloom. But what does Netflix’s entry into the Indian entertainment industry mean for the Indian audience?
- Unlimited video data streaming: Yes you heard it right, Netflix is offering unlimited video streaming experience to viewers, all they need is a 0.5 MBPS data connection to stream quality videos, which usually runs smoothly after a couple of minutes of buffering. However, in a country where good and stable data speed is available only in the metro cities, how Netflix experience will be made available to others without proper bandwidth availability is yet to be seen.
- Uncensored content: If you are above 18, the censor board cannot make choices for you any more. With a high rate of censored content in movies, series and even songs, the viewers were left contemplating stuff ranging from words to complete plotlines. Netflix has declared that it will show uncensored content with appropriate tags provided you declare your age at the time of signing up. For families with children below the age of 18 at home, Netflix is providing a parental control option so that parents can regulate TV standards for their kids themselves.
- Showcase platform: There is a lot of talent that goes unseen behind the big screens. With Netflix’s policy of producing original content other than showcasing popular movies, a lot of Indian actors might get to showcase their talent to a wider audience. Though there has been no such declaration from Netflix about producing Indian content, they have included some Indian movies like Piku, OK Kanmani in their menu. So, we can always hope for more.
- Better exposure: Colors Infinity was a good effort recently to give a small taste of cinema outside Bollywood and other Indian entertainment industries. However, with Netflix, better choices could be made available to everyone from a multitude of languages and genres, thereby offering a wider exposure and better choices to appreciate.
- End of Piracy: With a wide range of videos available to view at a small price, it would definitely curb the largely persistent piracy practice to some extent. Maybe with stricter piracy laws in the Indian subcontinent, we could completely eradicate the issue. But as long as you get something for free, eh?
We hope Netflix can offer the Indian viewer what it is promising and more so that we can boast to have been a part of the Indian television revolution!