Netflix is all set to invest Rs 3,000 crore on producing exclusive content in India in the immediate future, Reed Hastings, CEO and founder of the streaming giant announced here on Friday.
“We will invest Rs 3,000 crore on content in India this year and the next. The Internet does many things but it lets you tell good stories too, and there are so many great stories here in India,” said Hastings, at a closed discussion with select media persons, he also confirmed that right now, India ranks among the top priorities for the brand as far as investment goes, along with nations like the US and Spain.
For Netflix, the heavy investment seems to be a wager to ensure heavier returns, considering the OTT business wholly banks on subscription and no advertisement revenue.
“We have no advertisement model, so its all about pleasing our members,”!Hastings explained, adding: “In a way, it simplifies things for us not having advertisers. It lets us create content freely”
Freedom of creativity of course can often court censorship the world over, Hastings says Netflix has never faced any problem in India.
“You can never take freedom for granted.
It is important to safeguard freedom and we are pleased with the way things have been in India. The Indian government hasn’t imposed broadcast conduct. On our part, we always say this if you dont want to watch something you don’t have to watch. It’s really a self-regulation model for the OTTs. At our end, we label shows to denote sex, violence or any other thematic content,” Hastings explained.
He continued: “We believe in artistic freedom. Taking down a show is always a tough decision and it is driven by local law.”
The Netflix honcho pointed at the how the wide reach of the OTT platform had taken Indian entertainment to living rooms all over the world. “Global households are watching ‘Mighty Little Bheem’ today,” he noted.
The mega spending is also an obvious strategy to reach out to audiences with bigger and better content in a market that is slowly getting crowded with many players.
“The market is competitive. There’s Amazon Prime, Youtube, Hotstar, and many more. That’s the reason we are investing big,” he reasoned.
At a time when there is a surfeit of players in the digital entertainment space, variety is the key, he affirms: “Consumers want variety. For instance, if they like ‘The Irishman’ that does not mean they are ready for just another film of the same kind. We always look for new stories”
In an industry that is still growing, parameters to define what is foolproof are hard to find. “We don’t have demographic information on what works where. All we can bank on is your likes, and accordingly give recommendations,” said Hastings.
Present at the discussion was also actress Huma Qureshi, who has worked in Zack Snyder’s Netflix film “Army Of The Dead” and who, Hastings informed, was all set to part of “something big” in January.
“We are in the middle of interesting change. We now have licence and support to do what we want creatively. The film business tends to be dictated by what we watched on the big screen. Netflix has changed that,” said Huma.
“It is an exposure to a different kind of storytelling and I love that. I feel we are still far from the heart of it all but there are great times ahead,” summed up Huma.