Netflix has just revealed its plans for India, and they’re jaw-droppingly big.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has said that Netflix will spend Rs. 3,000 crore on content programming over the next two years. A majority of this spend will be on original programming. “The next 5-10 years are going to be a golden age of television. You are seeing unbelievable and unrivaled levels of investment from global companies like Apple, Amazon, Disney, Viacom as well as local companies like Zee TV,” Hastings said. This is the first time Netflix has disclosed its own content budget for the India market.
Netflix’s budget, for some context, is around the budget of 100 average Bollywood movies, which can cost between Rs. 20 and Rs. 50 crore to produce. With money like that, Netflix could unleash a whole new wave of original content that’s geared for the Indian audience. Netflix has managed to produced some successful original content in India — Sacred Games, a thriller set in Mumbai, has earned its place in Indian pop culture with memes and jokes from the show scatted across the internet, and the company’s shows have also managed to give prominence to some fringe artists like Radhika Apte.
Netflix, though, says that its original content isn’t popular only in India — Netflix has said that that two of the three viewers who watched Sacred Games were from outside India, and 27 million households have watched its animated show Mighty Little Bheem from overseas. Netflix, thus far, has commissioned around 40 original series and films in India, including fifteen original series and about two dozen original local-language films in India. In April this year, Netflix had said that around 15 new original Indian films are expected to be available to its members across the world by the end of 2020.
Netflix clearly has big plans for India, but it remains to be seen if it can still maintain its quality when it exponentially increases the content it’s churning out. Tech companies only need to set up a few extra servers when they’re growing their operations, but Netflix will have to find a lot more talented directors, producers, and scripts to be able to create shows of the quality that its users are used to. Also, it’ll be competing against several other players including Amazon, Hotstar and Zee, who’ll be vying for the same creative talent. But if Netflix’s bold Rs. 3000 crore gambit can pay off, Indian viewers might be in for a treat of a lifetime.