NBA, TikTok Partner for Video Contest in India

India, with the world’s sixth-largest economy and youngest global population by 2020, is a coveted streaming video market for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney and now the NBA.

The National Basketball Association has partnered with user-generated short-form mobile video sharing platform TikTok for a campaign around the ongoing 2019 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors.

The social media venture – dubbed #DuetWithNBA – enables TikTok users to create and share video duets with content offered on the NBA India app.

The top-three winners who post and share content on the platform will be featured on a post-game presentation of the NBA Finals. Other participants will selected to receive NBA Fanwear.

The campaign follows last December’s partnership between the NBA and ByteDance, TikTok’s corporate parent.

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“We are always looking at partnerships that allow our fans to engage with the league across various content platforms,” Diane Gotua, VP, global business operations at the NBA, said in a statement.

Mayank Gandotra, director of business development at TikTok India, said the platform is ideal for users seeking to watch and interest with sports video.

“We are excited to bring to our active sports community pan-India exclusive content and engaging in-app challenges,” Gandotra said.

The TikTok app is available in more than 150 markets and 75 languages globally.

 

Netflix Announces 10 Indian Film Originals

Netflix has announced 10 new original Indian films across a range of subjects and genres, including drama, sci-fi, thriller, horror, comedy and romance.

By the end of 2020, a total of 15 new original Indian films (including previously announced titles Music Teacher, Cobalt Blue, Chopsticks, Upstarts and Bulbul) will be available to Netflix members around the world, according to the SVOD service.

“When Netflix launched in India, we changed the way Indian audiences enjoy their films,” said Srishti Behl Arya, director, international original film, India, Netflix, in a statement. “Given our diversity, history and culture, India is home to powerful stories waiting to be told to audiences around the world. The depth of talent and vision of our creators is enabling us to create films our members will love. We want to be a home for India’s finest filmmakers where their stories travel to more people than ever before.”

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The 10 new Netflix Indian original films include the chiller Ghost Stories; the drama Class of ’83; Mrs. Serial Killer, about a doting wife who must perform a murder exactly like the serial killer to prove her husband innocent; Guilty, exploring versions of truth that emerge when a small town girl accuses the college heart throb of rape; Yeh Ballet, about two boys from very low income families who discover ballet and through it a way to escape their challenging circumstances; House Arrest, about a shut-in; Kaali Khuhi; about a 10-year-old who saves his town from its dark past; Maska, about a confused millennial who sets out to fulfill his fantasy of becoming a movie star; Freedom, the story of an Indian family interwoven with the personal, ideological and sexual history of India; and Serious Men, about a wily slum dweller, who cons the country into believing his dim-witted 10-year-old son is a genius.

Previous Netflix Indian projects included Lust Stories, an Indian anthology film; Soni, a tale of two Indian police officers; new-age romance Love Per Square Foot; and the humorous family drama Rajma Chawal.

IHS: Netflix Needs More Than ‘Sacred Games’ to Drive Consumer Adoption in India

There’s a reason Netflix is emphasizing localized content and talent when expanding service abroad: Consumer adoption.

With over-the-top video by nature offering loss-leader pricing, services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video haven’t yet engaged in price warfare against regional competitors.

But simply regurgitating Hollywood movies and TV shows is a strategy of the past in markets such as India and China – two regions of the world Netflix and Amazon want to establish significant presence in.

In India, OTT video services will add 25 million subscriptions over the next five years, three million more new subs than pay-TV. It will exceed 35 million OTT video subs by the end of 2022, according to new data from IHS Markit.

When it comes to choosing connected video services, IHS found that more than 76% of connected consumers in India feel local content is important – with 74% citing the importance of quality subtitling and dubbing. Pricing also remained important across all markets surveyed.

As Netflix & Co. increase their focus on the Indian video market, including investment in local content, they continue to face competition from India’s well-established local OTT players.

The country’s successful domestic film and network TV markets pose challenges for newcomers lacking local content libraries. Despite launching “Sacred Games” this year, featuring Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan, IHS says Netflix still has a long way to go to grow its Indian subscriber base.

Star India launched Hotstar, an ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) service in 2015, followed by SVOD service, Hotstar Premium, in 2016. The service is forecast to grow its Indian subscriber base 60% this year, accounting for 25% of all online video subscriptions in the market.

Its success has largely been supported by content investments, including premium sports, local-language content and international content from HBO, Disney and Fox.

Although pricing is the most important factor in a video service across all country markets surveyed by IHS, Indian consumers were most likely to cite price as an important factor in their video service decisions.

Average revenue per user (ARPU) among pay-TV subs in India reached $4 monthly in the satellite heavy market, while local OTT subscription services cost less than $1 per month. In comparison, the basic Netflix subscription in India costs $7.

To succeed and grow in India’s content-hungry market, IHS says global OTT video players need to provide the correct mix of content at the right price.

Netflix Partners with Indian ISP Hathway

Since launching its pioneering subscription streaming video service globally two years ago, Netflix has reportedly struggled to gain traction in India – the world’s second largest country by population (1.28 billion).

As a result, the SVOD behemoth Sept. 4 announced a pact with Hathway that enables the Indian’s ISP subscribers direct access to Netflix on their pending ($42) set-top box. Hathway subs will also be able to pay for Netflix on their monthly Internet data bill.

The deal mirrors similar agreements between Netflix and Indian telecoms, including most-recently Airtel and Vodafone.

“In this smart and digital era, customers are looking at leading Internet entertainment services like Netflix to access high quality, well-produced entertainment,” Rajan Gupta, managing director at Hathway, said in a statement.

Tony Zameczkowski, VP, business development, Netflix Asia, said the agreement would allow Hathway’s subs to use the Netflix button on their remote controls to access content.

“We’re very excited to partner with Hathway to bring the latest technologies and great stories under one roof,” he said.

 

Viacom Launching Ad-Supported Indian-Themed VOD Service in the U.K.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish has vowed to expand the media conglomerate’s entertainment assets globally.

In November, Viacom 18 Media’s ad-supported Voot streaming video service will expand operations to the United Kingdom – the first of several planned international markets launches.

Viacom 18, which is majority (51%) owned by Mumbai, India’s TV18 and 49% by Viacom, will produce 18 original multi-lingual, multi-genre series for the platform through its Viacom 18 Motion Pictures unit. A news service is slated for as well.

“Voot is integral to our strategy as we gear up for a future-ready Viacom18 that is screen, platform and pipe agnostic,” Sudhanshu Vats, managing director at Voot, said in a statement. “We are building a digital-first brand to harness [our] strengths across its brands, creative franchises and businesses in multiple Indian languages.”

With an Indian origin population of around 1.8 million consumers, the U.K. market presents a significant opportunity for Voot to leverage.

Voot Originals will feature content across multiple genres, psychology, mystery, sports biopics, comedy, drama, thriller, politics, history, crime and suspense, among others.

“The digital medium brings us close to the consumer at a very personal level,” said Monika Shergill, head of content at Viacom18 Digital Ventures. “Our entire content strategy is based on a deep data backed analysis of the needs and desires of our consumers and their consumption preferences and patterns.”

Voot said it would also will also strengthen its user interactivity options with the adoption of Google Watch Action, an industry first in the Asia-Pacific region for premium OTT players. Voot’s platform will also employ Dolby Surround Sound for all original programming – a first for Indian-based OTT video services.

“At an execution level, we have been extremely lucky to be partnering with a galaxy of very talented and committed actors, writers and directors to bring forth our second bundle of Voot Originals,” said Shergill.

 

Netflix Bows First Original Series in India

Netflix July 4 began streaming “Sacred Games,” the SVOD pioneer’s first original content in India. A global launch is set for July 6.

Next to China, India represents one of the biggest untapped consumer markets for Netflix and Amazon. The latter bowed its Prime membership platform in India in 2016, including Prime Video. Earlier this year, Amazon Music streaming service launched as well.

Streaming in Hindi and English, Mumbai mob drama “Sacred Games” features Bollywood stars Saif Ali Khan, Radhika Apte, and Surveen Chawla, among others.

The series is the first of several Indian productions slated for global release on Netflix similar to original native shows in Germany (“Dark”) and Latin America, “Narcos”.

“There are great stories everywhere, but there are really four or five centers of TV and film (worldwide),”  Erik Barmack, VP, international originals at Netflix, told Reuters. “Mumbai is certainly one of them, and it is important for us, because we are going to be actively invested in India.”

New Role for Man Jit Singh? Sony Pictures Eyes India in Mid-Term Growth Report

NEWS ANALYSIS — Sony Pictures Entertainment plans to increase its exposure and economic footprint in India over the next three years, beginning in March 2019, according to a May 22 release from new CEO Kenichiro Yoshida.

With a companywide strategy aimed at “getting closer to people,” Sony Pictures contends expanding its television and movie footprint in India will also get closer to people’s money by “enhanc[ing] profitability.”

The studio cited the recent box office success of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle in its ongoing investment in movie scripts and revitalization of its film library.

With SPE currently operating 31 TV channels in India, the media company hopes increase consumer exposure following its acquisition last year of TEN Sports.

“[India] is expected to be the world’s most populous by 2024, and this business is set to be a major asset to [Sony] going forward,” the company said in a statement.

No mention whether Man Jit Singh will factor in the India expansion. Singh recently exited the top position at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment after assuming the position in 2014 when David Bishop’s contract was not renewed.

Singh had been CEO of Multi Screen Media Ltd., which spearheaded Sony Pictures’ TV networks buildup in India.

Netflix Putting Global Growth Focus on India

Netflix may be global with 117 million subscribers, but the SVOD pioneer covets India (and China) to double its subscribers base in the next five years, CEO Reed Hastings told a business conference in India.

Speaking Feb. 23 at the Economic Times Global Business Summit in New Delhi, Hastings said he expects the SVOD ecosystem to generate the next 100 million subs from India – a statistic underscored by Netflix’s inroads among the country’s top 20 million mobile wireless consumers.

“It’s the most phenomenal example anywhere in the world of low Internet costs, expansion of 4G. We didn’t see that coming and we just got lucky on that one,” Hastings said.

Third-party data suggests India will have more than 650 million Internet users by 2021. The United States had 290 million Internet users at the end of 2016, according to Statista.com.

While Netflix bowed in India in 2016, streaming largely English-language content, the service opened an office in the country six months ago focusing on producing – and exporting – native language content.

Netflix began streaming original Indian movie, Love Per Square Foot, which has done well in the country and abroad in the U.S., U.K. and Mexico, according to Hastings.

The service just announced a slate of three Indian original series, including “Leila,” based on a book by Prayaag Akbar, which tells the story of Shalini, a free-thinking woman in search of the daughter she lost upon her arrest 16 years earlier.

“Ghoul,” a horror series based on Arabic folklore, is set in a covert detention center. Nida, a newly minted interrogator who turned in her own father as an anti-government activist, arrives at the center to discover that some of the terrorists held there are not of this world

“Crocodile, is a young adult murder mystery thriller series set in the seaside state of Goa.

“These three series … represent the tremendous diversity that Indian storytelling holds for a global audience,” said Erik Barmack, VP of international original series, at Netflix.