On Wednesday, Streaming giant Netflix announced a long-term partnership with Karan Johar’s newly formed digital content studio “Dharmatic Entertainment”, in order to create a wide range of new fiction, non-fiction series and films exclusively for its viewers. In the past, Netflix had signed content deals with Shahrukh Khan’s “Red Chillies Entertainment” for films and web series, as well as with “Aamir Khan Productions” for the actor’s films. So far, Netflix has not had exclusive arrangement for content with any of the studios in India.
This move is in line with Netflix’ global strategy, as it is facing tough competition in India from local streaming players such as – Hotstar, MX Player and ZEE5, as well as from global players such as – Amazon’s Prime Video. The entry of Disney+ and Apple TV+ later in the year is expected to increase the competition in the streaming space.
The partnership with Netflix offered Karan Johar, a freedom from the fear of the Friday box office. “There is one aspect, which is very daunting in all our existence, is the pressure of the Friday box office performance and then the general performance of your film, which looms large on us filmmakers. But when you have a platform where you can showcase your creativity and your content and you don’t have the pressure of the box office, then you are given wings to fly,” Johar said.
As per the market estimates, Netflix has just over 1.2 million subscribers in India. However, it claims to have over 151 million paid subscribers in over 190 countries. Since its launch in India in January 2016, Netflix has been slow in signing the content deals. While, its rival – Amazon Prime has been quick on acquiring films from top studios such as – Yash Raj Films, Excel Entertainment, Dharma Productions, Vishesh Films, and T-Series. On the original web series front as well, Netflix has launched fewer titles, including ‘Sacred Games’, ‘Ghoul’, ‘Leila’ and ‘Delhi Crime’ as well as kids animated series ‘Mighty Little Bheem’, as compared to Amazon.
As per a recent report by KPMG, India has over 300 million online video viewers, which expected to reach 550 million by year 2023, while the total number of video streaming services has increased from 9 in year 2012 to 35 at present