Netflix Will Be In India By Jan 10th; But, Net Neutrality Concerns Exist!
World’s one of the largest portals for on-demand movie streaming service: Netflix is finally launching in India. As per various media reports, Netflix’s Indian operations would be announced during CES 2016 which will happen between January 6th and 9th at Los Vegas, USA.
As of now, Netflix has 69 million paid subscribers from 40 countries with USA alone accounting for 43 million customers. The company is right now worth $7 billion; and in 2014, they churned out revenues worth $5.5 billion. Theonlinre are 2000+ employees of Netflix at the time of writing.
As the news is slowly spreading, and realities sinking in, an intense debate has started: Will Netflix violate Net Neutrality principles in India?
Netflix’s Indian Operations
Way back in 2013, The Hindu had predicted that Netflix may launch in India very soon. They had observed that Netflix is recruiting Hindi speaking linguistic experts, and this prompted them to report that Netflix may soon Indian operations very soon.
However, at that time, Netflix spokesperson had said, “While the company has global aspirations, it would be premature to draw any short-term conclusion from our recruiting efforts or job ads.”
last year in June, we reported strong possibility of Netflix’s Indian expansion, which has now been almost confirmed. Netflix hasn’t officially confirmed this news. Besides India, Netflix will expand massively in other Asian markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. As per various reports, Netflix has borrowed $1 billion for their expansion plans, globally.
What Prompted Netflix To Focus on India?
As per analysts, Netflix’s renewed focus in Indian market has been encouraged due to two facts:
– 2016 would be the year when 4G becomes mainstream in India. Airtel, Vodafone and Idea has already launched 4G services and Reliance Jio has created quite a hype to spread the benefits and advantage of 4G in India. Earlier, slow Internet speed and bandwidth issues must have discouraged them from arriving in India; but not anymore.
– Online video consumption India is at all time high. In 2014, Indian Internet users consumed 41 billion minutes of videos every month, which is 15,418 minutes of online video accessed every second. Overall, 46% of all Internet usage in India happens due to video consumption, and a company like Netflix cant afford to lose this opportunity.
Will Netflix Flirt with Net Neutrality in India?
As soon as the news about Netflix’s India plans were revealed, social media was abuzz with fears that Netflix may violate Net Neutrality principles. On Reddit India, an interesting thread quickly became popular with this question.
For instance, in Australia and New Zealand, Netflix has partnered with local ISP called iiNet which has enabled them to offer their services at unfair advantages. iiNet users who chose Netflix to view video content are not charged any data usage, which makes their competitors weak and vulnerable. This clearly violates Net Neutrality principles, as per which ISPs shall not discriminate access to Internet and all websites/services should should be allowed equal playing field.
Interestingly, Netflix is known to support Net Neutrality in USA, wherein they propagated and shared the message of fair Internet. But when it comes to non-US markets, their actions completely change.
Netflix has defended by saying, “We are committed to the principles of strong net neutrality. These arrangements are common in Australia and we opted not to put our members at a disadvantage to those of rival content providers whose viewing wasn’t being counted.”
As per Hindustan Times, Netflix will charge fixed monthly fees from their subscribers, and if they use some of this money to offer faster access of their services, then it may not completely break Net Neutrality principles. They said, “But Netflix will still be charging for their service in the form of a fixed monthly rental, and if they use a portion for it to pay for the streaming charges, it might not be an outright violation of net neutrality but a matter of concern nevertheless.”
Right now, similar on-demand digital video streaming in India is available from Bigflix (Reliance Communication’s service); Movies section at Google Play; Youtube’s Movie rental service; Eros Now and Spuul. Singapore based Hooq has also recently launched such similar service in India.
In the US, Netflix charges $9.99 (Rs 640) per month for accessing their video content; but it may be lowered in India, considering that Apple Music launched their services in India at a much lower price (Rs 120), compared to US.
We will keep you updated as more information comes in.
Question: If Netflix is found to violate Net Neutrality in India, will you use this service? Do share your opinions by commenting right here!