India's 'wild about television and entertainment', makes market more exciting: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings tells CNBC-TV18

Web streaming giant Netflix will take the route of original and local content to strengthen its roots in the Indian market where local players like Hotstar are making the market of internet streaming highly competitive, Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix said on Friday.

"We have got some great series that we have commissioned like Sacred Games. It will be coming out in 2018. And in fact, now we are working with Red Chillies Entertainment with Shah Rukh Khan. He is trying to expand into television and so Bard of Blood is a great new book written by a 19-year-old and it has been all the rage and so, we are together working to put that in a series. So very exciting to be announcing that," Hastings said.

 Indias wild about television and entertainment, makes market more exciting: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings tells CNBC-TV18

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said he wants to use best of Indian cultural content. Screengrab from Youtube/ CNBC TV18

Speaking to CNBC-TV18's Shereen Bhan, Hastings said that with the local as well as global media players entering the internet market, the prices for the content creator are now are increasing.

"What that is doing is everybody bidding for content, to have the most valuable content. So the prices now for creators now are increasing. And there are more shows and movies getting produced than ever before," he said.

Hastings said that apart from the already popular global shows, which has firmly set the company in Indian markets, they have a range of new shows for the market here. "And we want to use the best of Indian cultural content," he added.

"We have got a new German original Dark, we have got The Crown coming in just another month, that is Queen Elizabeth and one of the most expensive and elaborate productions ever. We have got Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why and then we are adding more and more Bollywood films. We are also adding Sacred Games and originals that we are doing here in India," Hastings said.

Speaking about the nature of internet content and the transnational behaviour of audiences, Hastings said that although content does best when it is served with the local flavour, the internet has ensured that local stories are also approachable by a global audience.

"So Narcos is an example of a tale that is really in Latin America, but audiences around the world have really enjoyed it. Now we have an American comedian, Hasan Minhaj, does stand-up in California and he is popular all over the world now on the Netflix platform. So you get all these interesting crossovers," Hastings added.

On a question about media giants like Disney pulling off the platform, Hastings remained undaunted and said his answer to that is "to be producing more original movies and more original series".  He said the media giant's decision simply means that "we are shaking things up".

"We are doing our own content. And so the existing media companies are not quite sure what to make of us," Hastings said.

The Netflix CEO does not believe that the slow connectivity or bandwidth could be an impediment to web streaming platforms like Netflix in India. Taking the example of Mexico, where Netflix started streaming five years ago, Hastings said that internet there has accelerated because people wanted to watch Netflix, YouTube, and other content sources online. He says that in India, operators like Reliance Jio will be "transformative for the society".

"Now we see in India, in last two years with Reliance Jio, just the biggest explosion in bandwidth that the world has ever seen. It is just incredible what is happening here in India. So, now we are trying to, as we go to other countries, saying an investment like Reliance Jio is transformative for the society, it is just so impressive," Hastings said.

The Netflix CEO agreed that India is rather a unique market from the perspective of expanding the firm's operations. He said that as a country of billion people who are "just wild about television and entertainment", makes the market more exciting. It opens up many more possibilities even for young players in the market. Hastings said that Netflix will take some of the "best of Indian cultural content".

Disclosure: Reliance Industries Ltd, which also owns Reliance Jio, is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd

Updated Date: Nov 17, 2017 22:49:59 IST