Netflix in India: The ifs and buts of on-demand streaming

New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) The arrival of popular American on-demand streaming website Netflix in India has given much reason to cheer, but users have raised concerns on data consumption and internet speed. Nevertheless, the excitement is at its peak, especially since the content comes without censorship.

A quick look at the Netflix original series “Narcos”, which features some intimate lovemaking scenes, affirmed that there is no discernible censorship which could bother viewers, who are mostly used to snipped and beeped content.

“Netflix is an on-demand service that allows people to choose to sign up and decide what, where and when to watch. The service includes ratings guides and episode synopses to help people decide, and we also provide a PIN-code system to ensure children can’t view certain content,” a Netflix spokesperson told IANS.

There’s a melange of exclusive content, including Netflix original TV series such as “Marvel’s Daredevil”, “Marco Polo” and “Narcos”, as well as Netflix original movies, documentaries, stand-up comedies and TV shows for children in addition to a broad variety of licensed programming.

There are also popular Hindi films like “Piku”, “Singh is Kinng”, “Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!”, “Hate Story”, “Hum Saath Saath Hain”, among others, with a promise to add more “as the service grows in popularity”, in the Indian market, which saw the launch of movie streaming platform Hungama Play in mid-2015.

Upon its much anticipated launch in India, Netflix is offering a free one-month subscription to users. After that, there are three monthly paid plans available, which are worth Rs.500, Rs.650 and Rs.800, which can be paid with an international credit card via Netflix, through the iTunes app store in most markets and via Paypal.

As per Netflix, watching films or TV shows on its site can exhaust about 1 GB of data per hour for each stream of standard HD video, and up to 3 GB per hour for each stream of HD video.

Despite that, it’s got the potential for being a game-changer, believes film and TV industry veteran Amit Khanna.

“It ushers in anytime, anywhere, anyscreen video on demand. As Netflix and similar services like Amazon, Hulu, Hooq enlarge their repertoire along with the advent of true broadband and 4G, filmed entertainment will change forever,” Khanna, the former chairman of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Entertainment Limited, told IANS.

Netflix’s launch has created a great buzz among movie and TV show afficionados in the country, many of whom believe it’s a great move, yet data consumption and slow internet speed could act as deterrents.

Delhi-based event manager Saurabh Zutshi, 27, believes “it’s a pretty good deal”, but data consumption could be a restriction.

“As long as we get original Netflix content uncensored and unedited, it’s a pretty good deal… The only drawback is data consumption. Two hours of HD streaming can consume upto 700 mbs,” he said.

Mumbai-based musician Paresh Garude is excited that he won’t have to worry about lack of space while downloading content.

“Sometimes you crib about not having enough space to download your favourite series. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about any of those things any more. Goodbye, social life. I m getting married to my computer,” Garude, 25, said.

However, 19-year-old engineering student Nehal Shastri, raised an important concern regarding the expenses of broadband in India.

“It’s one thing to pay a subscription fee, but one will also have to pay significantly more for their broadband if they want to replace their DTH services,” he said, while 23-year-old student Nikhil Warekar feels Netflix will face a “massive technical challenge” in India due to slow internet speed.

“Majority of Indian internet users can’t even stream YouTube videos without waiting for buffering. How would that feel while streaming a movie?” he commented.

Time and again, the film industry in India has rued about the issue of piracy in the country. Will the launch of Netflix solve this issue?

Bangalore based digital specialist Sandesh Shenoy, 37, feels that Netflix might “make a dent into piracy”.

“The pricing is very attractive and any middle class person can afford it on a monthly fee basis. I definitely would be interested in subscribing to such a service,” he said.

Netflix also addresses the question regarding adjusting data usage, with four settings: Low (0.3 GB/hour), medium (SD: 0.7 GB/hour), High (Best video quality, up to 3 GB/hour for HD and 7 GB/hour for Ultra HD) and auto.

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