SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — India, which is home to more than 460 million internet users, offers huge potential for streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon, and in a market at the cusp of a digital revolution that is driven by strong demand for locally-generated content.
While China remains off limits for Netflix and Amazon, 2016 will officially mark the year both companies get the ball rolling in a turf war in India as part of their global ambitions. India is second to only China in its amount of internet users — their Asian neighbors have more than 721 million daily users.
Amazon raised the bar in the battle with its aggressive pricing, a massive amount of content offers and the presence of some of its senior executives at its Mumbai announcement event last week as part of Prime Video’s global rollout in 242 countries.
As part of its 130 country rollout, Netflix launched in India this January, but without much pomp and circumstance.
Amazon directly attacked Netflix by offering Prime Video at an introductory price of $7.50 per year, which is nearly at the same level as Netflix’s monthly membership cost in the country. The pricing also takes on various competitors like ErosNow, owned by film major Eros International, which charges between 75 cents-$1.50 per month and Hotstar, from Fox’s Star India network, which charges about $3 per month for its premium service.
The price war is only the beginning — the real battle lies within content creation, which according to Mumbai-based entertainment industry analyst Jehil Thakkar “is going to be the real differentiator between all OTT platforms.”
Netflix has so far announced its first Indian original, Sacred Games, which will be produced by Phantom Films, co-founded by film-maker Anurag Kashyap. Phantom has also been signed by Amazon to produce two shows, Stardust and The Family Man.
Prime Video has also lined up forthcoming shows from banners such as Fission Features backed by director Amit Kumar and U.K.-based Oscar-winning director Asif Kapadia. The list also includes Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma’s Clean Slate Productions.
India has one of the lowest broadband speeds in the world, an average of 2 mbps compared to the U.S. average of 11.5 mbps. But the country’s internet user base is still on a growth curve and expected to touch 730 million by 2020.
Going forward, data charges could also come down. The recent launch of Indian telecom major Reliance Jio, backed by India’s richest tycoon Mukesh Ambani with a $22.5 billion investment, made headlines for offering rock bottom pricing for its data services.