Netflix India's discount intensifies battle with Amazon and Disney
Netflix, Amazon and other video streamers are betting big on India, tantalized by the huge growth potential offered by its more than 1.3 billion people. On Dec. 14, Netflix slashed prices by up to 60%. Its popular mobile-only plan now costs 149 rupees ($2) per month, down from 199 rupees. A basic subscription that allows a user to watch content on any device has been cut to 199 rupees from 499 rupees. Its most expensive plan, which allows for simultaneous viewing on up to four devices, has been reduced to 649 rupees from 799 rupees, reports Nikkei Asia. But the reductions might not have gone far enough. The Los Gatos, California-based entertainment giant does not offer annual subscriptions, unlike cheaper rivals Amazon Prime Video and Walt Disney's Disney+Hotstar, which sell yearly plans for 1,499 rupees to access top services in these platforms that offer access to all content. Amazon subscribers also enjoy faster and free deliveries through the conglomerate's e-commerce platform, among other benefits. SonyLIV dangles an even cheaper annual plan in front of India's highly price-conscious consumers, 999 rupees, while ZEE5 currently sells 12-month packages for 499 rupees. Analysts say Netflix is trying to reach a wider audience with its price cuts as the premium service's pace of subscriber growth has been unimpressive. "Netflix has to up the ante! It was more expensive than Amazon and Disney and is falling behind in the subscription numbers," Vineeta Dwivedi, head of digital communications at the Mumbai-based S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, told Nikkei Asia. "Everyone is acing the content game, but the prices have to be comparable. Ultimately, it's about the numbers, and India remains a price-sensitive market which offers a huge and growing user base." Tapobrati Das Samaddar -- founder of Wordloom Creative Ventures, a company that deals with media, education and performing arts -- concurs. "No matter how much they loved [the content on Netflix], the general public might have thought twice or thrice before investing into its [basic 499-rupee monthly plan] because other platforms were providing far more affordable options," she told Nikkei. "Netfllix's premium pricing was not helping it grow its viewership." According to research company Media Partners Asia, Netflix had some 4.6 million subscribers in India in 2020, Amazon Prime 17 million and Disney+Hotstar 26 million. The three providers entered India in either 2015 or 2016 and are now focusing on local content as they chase viewers in every part of the country. Netflix's move in India contrasts with the rate hike it imposed on Japan in early 2021. The previous year, Netflix added roughly 2 million subscribers in the East Asian country to bring its total there to over 5 million. "Netflix's pricing strategy is something of an enigma," Dwivedi said, "which creates great interest [among] media watchers around the world. Slashing prices in India while raising [them] elsewhere is a strategic long-term move to capture a larger share of the market." Disney+Hotstar leads the pack in India, mostly thanks to its cricket offerings. The platform streams Indian Premier League and other domestic and international matches, a big draw in this cricket-crazy nation. Amazon Prime Video will start streaming live cricket on Saturday as part of a deal with the New Zealand cricket board. "Cricket is undoubtedly the most loved sport in India," Gaurav Gandhi, country head of Amazon Prime Video, India, said in a Dec. 20 statement, "and our collaboration with New Zealand Cricket underlines our commitment to give our customers what they want." Amazon Prime Video thus will start offering what it hopes will be a trifecta of Indian programming -- cricket, Bollywood movies and regional content to suit a multilingual, multicultural nation. During the CII Big Picture Summit in November, Gandhi spoke about the growth prospects of India's streamers. "It's very early days," he said, "and there is a huge headroom for growth as unique, original content is created." Other factors will play a role, Gandhi said, including India's young demographics and affordable data plans. Roughly 65% of India's population is under the age of 35, a segment which the streamers are keen to tap. As for the cheap data plans, they are the result of stiff competition among telcos like Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel that are trying to reach even small cities and towns. Along with its potential subscriber bonanza, India presents a unique challenge with its multilingual, multicultural population. Amazon Prime Video is trying to meet the challenge by offering movies made in several of the nation's languages with English subtitles and, in some cases, Filipino and Bahasa Melayu subtitles so that people across the country and in other nations can watch them. Amazon Prime Video's local language content currently reaches over 4,000 Indian cities and towns. Globally, the company said, movies made in Indian languages are being watched in about 170 countries, with international viewers accounting for 15% to 20% of their total audiences. The platform also offers gripping Indian originals, including "The Family Man," a spy drama, and "Made in Heaven," a series set in a marriage bureau. Netflix is also spending big on local content. In March, it announced that it is taking its "next big leap in India to bring you more than 40 powerful and irresistible stories from all corners of the country." Among these are the now released relationship drama "Ajeeb Daastaans," family drama "Sardar ka Grandson," and mystery-thriller "Aranyak." "While Netflix, Disney+Hotstar and Amazon Prime compete in the attention economy, comparing them is nothing short of comparing apples, oranges and watermelons," Shahan Sud, an investment professional at Indian Angel Network, told Nikkei. "Each has a different niche that they are catering to." Notwithstanding the price cut, Sud said, Netflix "is still grossly overpriced and will face difficulty" in scaling itself across India despite some of its rivals gradually increasing their subscription fees after having started with much lower price bands. The video streaming industry as a whole, however, is set to expand impressively. RBSA Advisors expects India's video-streaming market to grow to $12.5 billion in 2030 from $1.5 billion in 2021. "With access to better networks, digital connectivity and smartphones, OTT platforms in India have been increasingly attracting subscribers on a concurrent basis," it said in a July report, pointing out that adoption of digital streamers increased manyfold after the coronavirus pandemic struck at the beginning of 2020. In India, video-streaming platforms are often referred to as OTT, or over-the-top, services. "The next 100 million is from India," Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings said in 2018 at The Economic Times Global Business Summit, in New Delhi. He was referring to the number of subscribers the streamer hoped to bag in the country in the years to come. Finding them remains an uphill task.
Evergreen actor Afzal Hossain turns 67
Today marks the 67th birthday of noted thespian, director and artist Afzal Hossain. Afzal, known for his versatile presence in the media sphere of Bangladesh, was born on July 19, 1954, in Parulia, Satkhira. One of the iconic names in the industry, Afzal Hossain is highly popular in television and film who began his acting career on stage. While studying Fine Arts, he started performing on stage through Dhaka Theater. Read:Humayun Ahmed’s 9th death anniversary today He entered the world of television in the late seventies and soon became a heartthrob in television dramas during the eighties. His breakthrough was the drama titled 'Rokter Angurlata' aired in 1980 on BTV. Revered to his fans for his creative brilliance and personality, Afzal Hossain is vibrantly present as a well-respected name in the media arena. Several of his plays, television dramas and films are still admired by his audiences. Read:Cumilla lawyer files Tk50 crore defamation case against Mosharraf Karim The actor has recently showcased a critically acclaimed performance in Mostofa Sarwar Farooki's maiden web series 'Ladies & Gentlemen', produced by South Asian OTT giant ZEE5. A man of diverse talents, Afzal Hossain is simultaneously creative as his talents extend to direction, painting and poetry. Recently his paintings got exhibited outside the country. Read:Fakir Alamgir on life support Besides, he is expected to release his debut feature film and new theatre productions after the government lifts the lockdown. As a prolific creative advertisement maker, Afzal Hossain has revolutionized the advertisement industry of the country and is idolized by many successful creative directors in Bangladesh.
ZEE5 Global to premiere Kajal Arefin Ome directed telefilm 'Thanda'
ZEE5 Global, the largest OTT platform for South Asian content, is set to stream 'Thanda', a ZEE5 Original telefilm created by popular director Kajal Arefin Ome. The platform has dropped an intriguing poster of the telefilm recently on its social media handles. Thanda, starring the famous faces of Ome's fan-favourite drama series Bachelor Point including Chashi Alam, Ziaul Hoque Polash, Marzuk Russell and Mishu Sabbir, is all set to bring some comical delight to viewers, ZEE5 said in a press release. Read Best Bengali Thriller Movies in 2021 It says: "Thanda captures the delights of bachelorhood as the protagonists find their way through modern life. The film stars the very famous four Chashi Alam, Ziaul Hoque Polash, Marzuk Russell and Mishu Sabbir in lead roles, portraying contrasting personalities." Scheduled to be released in June on ZEE5 Global, Thanda is a fictional comedy film about the lives of four bachelors living in Dhaka. It will be free to watch for viewers across Bangladesh. Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Global, said, “We’re building out a very strong library of local Bangla Originals on ZEE5 to add to our huge content offering, and are now happy to add Thanda to this. Thanda is an out-and-out entertainer for our viewers, and they can expect many more interesting stories and laughs from this film.” Read Bengali OTT Platforms for Watching Movies, Web Series, Musical Shows The ZEE5 App can be downloaded from Google Play Store or the iOS App Store. ZEE5 is also available on www.ZEE5.com. The app is also available on Samsung Smart TV, Apple TV, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV.
Jodi Kintu Tobuo: Sense the love vibe this summer!
Here's some good news for movie buffs! Jodi Kintu Tobuo, a romantic comedy starring Ziaul Faruq Apurba and Nusrat Faria in lead roles, is all set for an OTT release on April 1. Dubbed as the “Bangladeshi Wedding of the Year”, the film’s plot revolves around Abeer (Apurba) and Preety (Nusrat Faria), who experience a roller coaster of emotions and complex situations in an urban setup. ZEE5 Global, the largest OTT platform for South Asian content, is set to release the web film as its fourth local production in Bangladesh. Read ‘Mainkar Chipay’: First Bangladeshi original launched on ZEE5 Global. Directed by National Award winner Shihab Shaheen, the film is Apurba and Nusrat's maiden collaboration together as an on-screen couple for any OTT production. Sharing the experiences, director Shihab Shaheen said at a virtual press conference prior to the release, "We have made this film over the past one and a half years. Our pre-production, production and post-production stages were jointly done within Bangladesh and India." Also read: ZEE5 releases Arifin Shuvoo-Chanchal Chowdhury starrer web-series Contract
First look of Chanchal, Arifin-starrer 'Contract' unveiled
ZEE5 Global has unveiled the first look of its upcoming web series "Contract," starring Bangladesh's Chanchal Chowdhury and Arifin Shuvoo in the lead roles.
ZEE5's first Bangladesh original to release next month
ZEE5 Global,the largest OTT platform for South Asian content, announced its first four Bangladeshi originals created by top directors Abrar Athar, Shihab Shaheen and Anam Biswas.
ZEE5 wins ‘Digital Content and Streaming Service of the Year’ award
ZEE5 Global has been named the ‘Digital Content and Streaming Service of the Year’ at the 2020 Telecoms World Middle East Awards for the second consecutive year.
ZEE5 to start local production and talent hunt in Bangladesh
ZEE5, the digital entertainment destination, is going to start local production in Bangladesh with the release of a new movie, web series and a talent hunt event.