Netflix has reasons to celebrate in India.
Regulatory filings indicate that the video-streaming giant's total income in the country surged 8X in 2018-19 to reach Rs 470 crore, up from Rs 58 crore the year ago.
Net profits increased to Rs 5.15 crore from a mere Rs 20 lakh in 2017-18 – more than a 25X rise.
Netflix's pricing innovations and increased focus on local Indian content are being seen as major growth drivers. In a first-of-its-kind offering, the OTT service had rolled out a mobile-only plan for Rs 199 in India in July. That seems to have borne fruits.
California-based Netflix does not share country-specific numbers, but third-party research reports estimate that its India subscriber base would have crossed 1.2 million in 2019. That is next to Amazon Prime Video's two million-plus paid subs, and domestic OTT market leader Hotstar's three million.
Hotstar has the highest reach (300 million viewers) among video-streaming services in India.
Netflix launched in early 2016 in India, but has upped the ante on local content and marketing only over the past 12-15 months.
In its last earnings call in July, the company had stated that by 2021, it would have more budgets for original content as it stops spending on cult shows like Friends (which stands to become exclusive to HBO Max) and The Office (whose exclusive rights have been obtained by NBCUniversal for its upcoming streaming service).
Meanwhile in India, it announced 10 new original films, and also signed content deals with Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment, and several others.
The Netflix India team is also expanding, with the company incurring "personnel expenses" of Rs 53.1 crore in 2018-19, as per RoC data.
In a former interaction with YourStory, Michael Spiegelman, Vice President - Global Product Innovation at Netflix, had said that the company has scaled its content investment in India "at a very fast pace."
"In fact, it’s been the fastest investment we have ever made in any country since we launched. This really reflects the richness of content creators we can draw on - the best of Indian storytellers to create high-quality original series and movies," he stated.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)