ON THE GO

On trains, buses, and flights, Indians are watching Netflix everywhere

Quartz india
Quartz india

Indians on the move are binge-watching a tonne of Netflix.

Not only are subscribers of the web-video service in India likely to binge-watch TV shows faster than the rest of the world—in three days, compared to the global average of four—they are also likely to watch a lot while on the go. India ranked second in binge-watching shows and movies in public, right behind Mexico. This implies that a lot of Indians are watching content on their mobile phones, laptops, and tablets, Netflix revealed in its India-specific findings in November and December.

Of those surveyed by Netflix, 65% streamed content while on trains, 58% on buses, and 52% on flights. Overall, 71% more Indians are bing-watching in public than last year, Netflix revealed.

If that wasn’t peculiar enough, Indians have even adopted their own prime-time on Netflix, with a bulk of viewers logging into the service at 5pm, making it the earliest prime-time in the world. The timing is in sharp contrast to the global average of 9pm when streaming on the web-video service peaks, the company said earlier this year. Users in India are also way more likely to watch Netflix at 9am when compared to the rest of the world.

And what are Indians watching with such gusto? Narcos, Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, Riverdale, Black Mirror, and Chef’s Table, among others.

But the idiot box isn’t dead in the world’s second-largest smartphone market. “Interestingly, while Indians are among the top mobile downloaders in the world for Netflix content, TV devices continue to be important for streaming, with more than a third (34%) of Netflix viewing hours in India being through connected TVs,” Netflix said in a Dec. 12 release.

The streaming service, which has over 109 million subscribers globally, does not reveal its subscriber database for India. Neither does it disclose the traffic generated via mobile phones or television sets in the subcontinent.

Netflix and India

Netflix entered India in January 2016, lured by the country’s growing population of smartphone users who are logging on to the internet thanks to cheap data rates.

“We have been successful with Netflix in Mexico, Argentina, and Peru and lots of places in the developing world, where we have seen people steadily investing in making the internet faster. The same is happening in India, an example being Reliance’s (Jio) tremendous investment,” the company’s CEO and founder Reed Hastings told The Times of India newspaper earlier this year.

But entertainment-hungry Indians were already being wooed by other local video-streaming platforms such as Hotstar, which was later joined by the likes of AltBalaji, dittoTV, and Voot, offering more regional content at lower prices. Netflix’s global rival Amazon Prime video subsequently announced its India entry in December 2016.

Since then, Netflix, which initially came to India with a small inventory of its original content, has been flexing its muscles, investing in original series here. And clearly, some Indians are hooked. One Indian subscriber watched The SpongeBob SquarePants movie 171 times in 2017. No, seriously.

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