Netflix is ready to “experiment” with a lower pricing tier than its current basic plan, the company’s chief product officer Greg Peters said during Tuesday’s earnings call, while answering a question on how Netflix will increase subscriber growth in India. The streaming service will also expand beyond English into Hindi and other Indic and Dravidian languages, CEO Reed Hastings added, in order to meet its long-term goal of 100 million subscribers in India.
Currently, Netflix is the most expensive streaming service in India, starting at Rs. 500 per month for a single screen and Rs. 650 per month for HD quality. Its biggest international competitor, Amazon, has taken a much different route, pricing its Prime subscription at Rs. 129 per month or Rs. 999 per year. While Netflix’s pricing strategy hews close to its rate in the US — Rs. 500 is about $6.80, close to starting point of $8 in the US — Amazon Prime’s Rs. 999 is about $13.60, a far cry from $119 in the US.
“We’ll experiment with other pricing models, not only for India, but around the world that allow us to sort of broaden access by providing a pricing tier that sits below our current lowest tier,” Peters said in response to a question about pricing. “And we’ll see how that does in terms of being able to accelerate our growth and get more access. But even on the existing model, we feel like we have a long runway ahead of us in India.”
In addition to more pricing options, Hastings added, Netflix will look at expanding its local language options in India — he didn’t say if he meant content or user interface, though context points to the former – and “more bundling” to grow itself. He noted that 300 million Indians have mobile phones, which are all potential customers for the streaming service. “Now, we’ll take 1 million at a time and figure out how to expand the market as we grow,” he added.
“We’re super encouraged with India and the growth that we’ve got early on, but we know it’s going to be somewhat of a tough market,” Netflix’s chief financial officer David Wells said. “So there’s — that notion is along — is a million at a time, right. It’s not going to be overnight where we’re going to get to those higher numbers.”
Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said that its Indian originals — the likes of Sacred Games, Ghoul, and Love Per Square Foot — helped make Netflix “feel more local, more relevant” in the country.
“What they had was a product that people understood more, talked to their friends more about that was written about more in the press and certainly talked about more by influencers, and then delivered with content that isn’t otherwise available in the market series being produced at the quality [of Sacred Games],” Sarandos added.