Netflix and Amazon are battling it out for the entertainment market in India. As Amazon already has a major corner of the market, Netflix is stepping up its game to compete.
The California company recently announced the launch of “Again” and “Selection Day,” two series using local talent and targeting viewers in India.
“Again,” written by Marisha Mukherjee, a writer for ABC’s “Quantico” starring Priyanka Chopra has been promoted as a “supernatural female-led detective series set in New Delhi,” by Netflix’s VP of international original series.
“Selection Day” is settled in the context of cricket. It is based on the novel of the same name, written by Man Booker Prize winner, Aravind Adiga.
The announcement is the latest round in a battle beginning a few years ago between Amazon and Netflix for streaming services in a country with nearly half a billion Internet users. Amazon, however, has a competitive advantage against Netflix with its subscription pricing. Amazon Prime’s price is 500 rupees ($8 USD) for a year, while Netflix has the same cost for one month.
A Hub Research poll showed that the growth of Amazon topped that of Netflix among TV viewers that subscribed to video-on-demand (SVOD). According to eMarketer, 61% percent of TV viewers subscribed to Netflix this year, up from 57% last year. Meanwhile, 36% percent of TV viewers subscribed to Amazon this year, up from 24% last year. This means that Amazon is seeing a growth of 12% in subscribers from TV against a growth of only 4% for Netflix.
To gain ground, Netflix used the flaws of Amazon both in programming and its reluctance to create a separate streaming services to its advantage. First, Amazon announced a series of special programming with local stand-up comedians, an all-male cast in a country with a gender equality problem. Netflix in turn launched a stand-up special with Aditi Mittal, one of the most famous female comedians in India. Second, Amazon is still reluctant to launch a streaming only service for the distribution of content.
Maybe Amazon has been waiting to see what the U.S. authorities have in mind for the company’s future, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated the Trump Administration will soon “take a position” about Amazon’s tax collection policy, raising concern about a possible antitrust investigation.
“And I think it is inevitable as companies get really, really huge,” said Rich Barton a Netflix board member and VC at Benchmark Capital. Meanwhile the India market gets more attractive for both companies’ future as it is expected to double the number of Internet users in the next five-to-ten years.