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Netflix Adds Hindi Interface, Eyes India’s Regional OTT Market

Netflix Adds Hindi Interface, Eyes India’s Regional OTT Market

Netflix users can view their interface in 27 global languages

Last month, the platform was testing an India-focused INR 349/month subscription plan

Netflix is rapidly expanding its presence in India, with plans to foray into regional content through tie-ups with local production houses

After cheaper entry-level subscription plans for its Indian users, online streaming giant Netflix has launched a Hindi interface to further the platform’s appeal in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. 

Last month, the platform was testing a ‘Mobile+’ plan for Indian users priced at INR 349/month. Subscribers to the plan are able to watch high definition (HD) content on the platform, on a single device at a time.

Besides this, the company has four subscription plans, ranging from INR 199 to 799/month. While the plans worth INR 199, 349 and 499/month allow users to stream content on only one device, the higher-prices plans worth INR 649 and 799/month allow users to stream HD content on two and four devices simultaneously. 

The platform offers viewers the choice to view their interface in 27 global languages. On Netflix, members can set up to five profiles in each account, and each profile can have its own language setting. Users outside India will also have the option to switch their user interface to Hindi.

The massive 68.64% of India’s 1.3 Bn population living in rural and semi-urban areas and consuming content primarily in native languages has become the quest for the Indian companies, particularly for the broadcasting, media and entertainment industry.

That said, when it comes to video streaming, platforms adopting regional languages in addition to Hindi and English was expected and seen as a natural progression.

Focus On Regional Content

According to a KPMG study, 30% Indians consume content on OTT in their preferred language which is other than English and Hindi. Currently, India has over 40+ OTT video streaming players, of which over 30 players offer content in regional languages, according to DataLabs by Inc42+’s, OTT Landscape In India Report.

OTT platforms such as Hotstar, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Voot, SonyLIV, YouTube, Zee5, Mx Player, Mubi, Jio Cinema have emerged as key players in the regional video content streaming industry.

The industry also include players like Manorama Max, Hoichoi, Addatimes, Primeflix, Ullu, Sun Nxt are capitalising on core regional content. These platforms do not offer content in English languages, but only the default display language in most platforms is English.

As highlighted in one of previous coverage, India’s regional OTT market market is divided under four segment:

  • International players experimenting with regional languages
  • Local players aiming to gain an edge on the regional user base
  • Core regional players finding their niche within 3-4 languages
  • Regional content aggregators

In an attempt to attract more Indian audiences, Netflix has been extensively working towards adding more regional content on its platform as well. Last year, Netflix had mentioned its plans to launch 22 original movies and 11 series from India by 2020.

The company was also in talks with Network18’s Viacom18 for a multi-year partnership to source around 10 shows, mainly in Hindi. It partnered with several production companies in India to bring more original content for its users in India. For instance, through its partnership with Tipping Point, the digital content arm of Viacom18 Studios, the company launched three original series — ‘Jamtara — Sabka Number Aayega’, ‘She’ and ‘Taj Mahal 1989’.

The company also entered into a long term partnership with Karan Johar’s digital content company — Dharmatic Entertainment to create a broad range of new fiction and non-fiction series and films exclusively for Netflix subscribers. The company has also signed up for launch of over 6 Bollywood movies on its platform including –  Janhvi Kapoor starrer ‘Gunjan Saxena’.

Recently, Netflix also signed a deal for an entire floor with WeWork’s Nesco coworking centre, purchasing new office space in Goregaon, Mumbai. The new office space will be used by Netflix for visual effects work, a domain witnessing increasing demand across the country. The work will be carried out in collaboration with another company, Anibrain. Netflix also owns a flexible workspace for 100 seats at The Executive Center at Maker Maxity in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) and a 9,000 sq ft separate office in the same complex.

The rapidly expanding presence of Netflix in terms of workspaces, and the rolling out of India-specific subscription plans, rising focus on regional content — have a lot to do with the company’s India outlook. Inc42 reported that the company was in talks with Network18’s Viacom18 entertainment network for a multi-year partnership to source at least 10 shows, mainly in Hindi. 

In the last few years, the global video streaming company has been betting big on India — in terms of money as well as the content strategy for Indian viewers. Last year, Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings had said that the company would invest INR 3000 Cr to produce original content for the Indian market over 2019-20.