Four months after the world’s largest video streaming company Netflix entered India, it has announced a new Netflix original series, based on the critically-acclaimed best-selling novel Sacred Games by Indian author Vikram Chandra. This Hindi-English series will be produced in India in partnership with Phantom Films and be available to Netflix members globally upon completion.
Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games set in Mumbai delves into the city’s intricate web of organised crime, corruption, politics, and espionage. Said Chandra on the announcement, “Over the last few years, I’ve watched with great excitement and pleasure, as Netflix has transformed narrative television with its ground-breaking, genre-bending shows. I’m confident that all the colour and vitality and music of the fictional world I’ve lived with for so long will come fully alive on the large-scale canvas provided by Netflix. I’m thrilled to be working with Netflix and Phantom Films.”
Phantom Films is India’s first ‘Directors’ Company formed by four Indian directors Vikas Bahl, Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena in 2011. Erik Barmack, vice president of international original series at Netflix stated, “We are delighted to partner with creative powerhouse, Phantom Films, to bring Vikram Chandra’s epic novel to life with the best Indian and global film talent available today. Sacred Games reinforces our commitment to bring the authenticity of local stories to Netflix members across 190 countries worldwide.”
Netflix had launched in India in January this year, with plans starting from INR 500. For one month price, members are able to get access to Netflix famous original series including Marvel’s Daredevil and Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Narcos, Sense8, Grace and Frankie, and Marco Polo, as well as a catalog of licensed TV shows and movies.
In 2016, the company plans to release 31 new and returning original series, two dozen original feature films, and documentaries, a wide range of stand-up comedy specials and 30 original kids series — available at the same time to members everywhere.
Additionally, the company also added Arabic, Korean, simplified and traditional Chinese to the 17 languages it already supports. Members with a streaming-only plan are able to watch instantly through the Netflix service from over 190 countries. The movies and TV shows that are available to stream may vary by location, and will change from time to time.
The launch in India came on the back of its plans of international expansion in Asia and the growing demand for video in India, given the rise in internet and smartphone penetration. In India, Netflix competes with Hooq, Hotstar, Ogle, Big Flix, Eros Now, Ditto TV, Muvi, and Spuul among others.
Last October, YuppTV, an Internet-based TV streaming service provider also launched its services in India. Prior to this in August, adding online entertainment services, direct-to-home (DTH) service provider, Dish TV, had launched DishFlix, a subscription-based video on-demand service aimed at premium customers. In February this year, Mumbai-based The Viral Fever (TVF), an online digital entertainment channel, received commitment of $10 Mn from Tiger Global Management. Similarly, another digital and entertainment startup SillyMonks has raised $448K from HNI Sreenivasa Reddy Musani, CMD EKTHA Group this month. The company plans to launch six web series properties on their YouTube channel “SILLY TUBE”.
Given the rise of 4G services in India, it is no wonder now that international players like Netflix are entering India. Internet video traffic was 46% of all consumer Internet traffic in 2014, up from 38% in 2013. By 2019, video is expected to grow to 74% of all internet traffic in India. Digital media product consumption in this segment is currently pegged at $1.2 Bn (INR 8000 crores), and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 33.5% to reach $3.9 Bn (INR 25,500 Crores) by 2020 in India.
However, it is to be noted that Netflix’s pricing is quite similar to the one it has in the United States. Its counterparts like BoxTV, Eros Now, Hooq.tv and Hungama charge considerably less for their subscriptions. Hence, it remains to be seen whether the average Indian consumer is ready to shell out the relatively steep price. The international player had been trying to enter India since 2013. However, due to licensing hassles and loose internet infrastructure this only became possible this year. Now with an original series from India, another milestone has been achieved in its journey.