Net­flix CEO says no plans for cheaper In­dia of­fer­ings

The Sunday Guardian - - Business -

Net­flix chief ex­ec­u­tive Reed Hast­ings said that the stream­ing video com­pany had no plans for cheaper prices in the hotly com­pet­i­tive In­dia mar­ket and that an ex­ec­u­tive’s com­ments sug­gest­ing oth­er­wise had been “mis­un­der­stood.”

In an in­ter­view with Reuters on Fri­day, Hast­ings noted that Net­flix had three price tiers in In­dia: 500 ru­pees ($6.90) for a ba­sic plan, 650 ($9.00) for a stan­dard plan and 800 ru­pees ($11) for premium. Those prices are only mod­estly lower than what the com­pany charges in the United States. But in In­dia, Hast­ings said, “we see the typ­i­cal mix across th­ese three plans that we see in many other coun­tries like US, which would in­di­cate that we don’t have a pric­ing is­sue. Be­cause if it was, ev­ery­one would be on the lower price plan.” When asked di­rectly if that meant the com­pany had no plans for lower prices in In­dia, he said: “Cor­rect.” Hast­ings’ com­ments fol­lowed a Sin­ga­pore event where the com­pany in­tro­duced 17 new orig­i­nal pro­duc­tions for Asia, in­clud­ing nine for In­dia. He said lo­cal pro­duc­tion was a key driver of new sub­scribers in In­dia and else­where, but he de­clined to pro­vide spe­cific fig­ures on Asia sub­scriber num­bers and growth. Net­flix launched in In­dia two years ago and has won fans among a young, tech-savvy mid­dle class in a coun­try where video con­sump­tion of all kinds is soar­ing. It scored a big hit in July with the re­lease of “Sa­cred Games”, a hard-boiled thriller built around Bol­ly­wood star Saif Ali Khan.

Lo­cal in­dus­try play­ers, how­ever, say Net­flix’s prices will make it hard to com­pete against do­mes­tic com­peti­tors like 21st Cen­tury Fox-backed Hot­star, Ama­zon’s Prime Video and satel­lite TV provider Tata Sky. But Hast­ings said Net­flix could still thrive amid cheaper op­tions. “Now it is true that Youtube is free, and Ama­zon is ba­si­cally free, and cable is ex­tremely in­ex­pen­sive be­cause it’s ad-sup­ported. To some de­gree that cre­ates a con­sumer ex­pec­ta­tion,” he said. But he added that the cost of Net­flix in In­dia was “like go­ing to the movie the­atre 2-3 tick­ets a month, but you get to watch a lot more.”

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