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

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.


Survey: Consumers Prefer Downloading Video to Streaming

Subscription streaming video is a global phenomenon, spearheaded by Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

But a new survey suggests many consumers are frustrated by their streaming experience and would prefer downloading content, according to a survey conducted by Penthera, which markets download-to-go (D2Go) functionality.

Downloading content on portable devices enables users to view later without an Internet connection. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu allow subscribers to download select original content.

The survey – based on 804 respondents in January – found that 92% of consumers have been frustrated trying to stream video, with issues related to buffering (65%), slow loading (40%), and placement of advertising (50%).

When issues arise, 53% of respondents said they give up on that streaming session; 26% said they stop using the unsatisfactory service; 11% will cancel their subscriptions.

“Consumers expect content anywhere, on any device, but delivery on that promise is still at the mercy Wi-Fi connectivity,” Dan Taitz, president and COO, Penthera, said in a statement. “Our survey shows that fewer than 9% of respondents said they are ‘never frustrated’ when streaming.”

Penthera found 39% of survey respondents said they would be more likely to subscribe to a service offering D2Go functionality; 34% said they would be more likely to watch programming from a service offering the feature; 18% said they would be less likely to cancel a service with D2Go.

Nearly half of those surveyed said they used download-to-go technology; 21% said the use D2Go to avoid depleting their mobile data plans; 17% don’t want to pay for Internet access at their destination on an airline or at a hotel; and 53% said they’d be willing to pay up to $5 per month to have download as a feature from their favorite streaming service.

“The survey data shows [respondents] see download-to-go functionality as an important tool in assuring the availability of their favorite videos, even if only used occasionally,” said Colin Dixon, analyst with nScreen Media.


’13 Reasons Why’ to Hit DVD on April 3

Paramount Home Media Distribution has set an April 3 DVD release date for the first season of the acclaimed, and controversial, teen suicide drama “13 Reasons Why.”

Named by USA Today as of the top 15 pop culture moments that defined 2017, “13 Reasons Why” divulges the reasons behind a high school girl’s suicide, through a series of cassette tapes she made just before her death that show up on various friends’ and acquaintances’ doorsteps.

Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) returns home from high school to discover a box of tapes, recorded by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), his classmate and secret crush, who died by suicide only two weeks before. Hannah’s tapes reveal the 13 reasons that led to her untimely death, and the people she felt were responsible.

Based on the best-selling mystery by author Jay Asher, the drama also features Kate Walsh, Christian Navarro, Alisha Boe and Brandon Flynn.

“13 Reasons Why” was one of the top 10 most-tweeted-about television shows and Google’s most-searched show of the year.  Season two will debut on Netflix in 2018.

The 13 Reasons Why: Season One four-disc set includes all 13 episodes, plus the “Beyond the Reasons” special, and new-to-DVD character featurettes, actor interviews, and more. The set is presented in 16×9 widescreen with English 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description with English and English SDH subtitles.

“13 Reasons Why” is a Paramount Television production.


Netflix Expands Middle East Presence

Netflix Feb. 19 announced a regional partnership in the Middle East with OSN, an entertainment network with broadcast rights into 24 countries across the Middle East and North Africa region.

The partnership comes amid a shifting global media landscape that sees demand for content across multiple platforms – including over-the-top – continue to grow.

OSN customers will be able to access Netflix’s content library via an updated set-top box that will be launched towards the end of the second quarter. Customers will also be able to pay for their Netflix subscription via one consolidated OSN bill.

Netflix’s first Arabic stand-up comedy, “Adel Karam: Live from Beirut,” is due to launch soon.

“The future of the entertainment industry in the MENA region will be shaped by providers who offer value and choice at every turn, CEO Martin Stewart said in a statement.

The deal also offers access to original series and films in 4K Ultra HD and HDR, including Bright, “Stranger Things,” “Orange is the New Black, “House of Cards” and The Crown,” “13 Reasons Why,” “Narcos,” and the new cyberpunk noir, “Altered Carbon.”

“With this regional partnership, OSN’s customers will be able to seamlessly access and enjoy all the best entertainment in one place,” said Maria Ferreras, VP business development for EMEA at Netflix.


Is Content King — or Is Data?

You may think Netflix’s business is offering subscription video streaming of increasingly original content and MoviePass’ offering subscription access to theatrical content, but there’s a hidden asset that buttresses both — consumer data.

Speakers at the February Digital Entertainment World conference in Marina Del Rey, Calif., pointed out the importance of data in entertainment disruption.

“MoviePass is a new type of business model,” said John Penney, EVP of consumer business development and strategic partnerships at 20th Century Fox. “Data is really the core of the business.”

Another Fox exec at the same event, on the panel “Does Hollywood Need a Blockchain?,” noted the importance of data in the entertainment industry. With their exclusive data, digital retailers have become “gatekeepers of what consumers are interested in,” said Ron Wheeler, SVP of content protection and technology strategy, adding a “potential effect of blockchain is the decentralization of access to data.”

You may think blockchain is only about cryptocurrency, but it’s also about precise data tracking, just the kind of thing digital companies such as MoviePass and Netflix are now keeping to themselves.

Data on consumer preferences can affect marketing spend — and the very content that gets produced. Currently, studios must depend on tracking from retailers, theater chains and other outside sources. Meanwhile, Netflix and MoviePass have data that tells them exactly what entertainment viewers are consuming. In the case of MoviePass, that data tracking could extend to where they ate dinner before the movie and whether they used Uber to get there.

It may be time for Hollywood to pay as much attention to data as it does to development.

Hasbro to Create Products Based on Netflix’s ‘Super Monsters’ Animated Series

Hasbro Feb. 16 announced an agreement with Netflix to create toys and games based on Netflix’s original preschool series “Super Monsters.”

The products will fall under Hasbro’s Playskool brand.

“Super Monsters” is an animated series about a group of preschool-aged kids who are descendants of the world’s most famous monsters, such as Count Dracula, Cleopatra and Frankenstein. The show follows the kids through their Pitchfork Pines Preschool adventures as they learn to master their own special powers. Season one of “Super Monsters” is available now on Netflix. Season two of the series will launch in October 2018.

“We are thrilled to team up with Netflix to help bring the adorable ‘Super Monster’ series to life through our upcoming preschool product line,” said Jonathan Berkowitz, SVP of marketing for Hasbro’s Playskool brand. “We love how the series teaches kids valuable life lessons in self-control, kindness, respect and being a good friend, and can’t wait to add this exciting new property to our Playskool portfolio.”

Hasbro’s “Super Monsters” product line will include collectible figures of the core cast, plush, playsets and vehicles iconic to the show. The line will also feature role play products to let kids act out monster adventures. As the global master toy licensee, Hasbro will launch its line based on the “Super Monsters” series in fall 2018 under its Playskool brand in the United States, with additional markets to follow in 2019.

Hasbro and Netflix teamed up in 2017 to bring “Stranger Things” fans a collection of games, such as the Monopoly: “Stranger Things” Edition game.

Dotcom Pioneers All in for NFL Thursday Night Football

The National Football League suffered through a controversy-plagued season, underscored by declining attendance and slipping TV ratings – down 13%.

But that isn’t stopping Twitter, Amazon, Google-owned YouTube and Verizon from upping bids for first-time multiyear streaming rights to the 2018/19 season of NFL Thursday Night Football, according to

With Fox Sports securing exclusive Thursday Night Football broadcast rights over the next five years for $3.3 billion – nearly 50% more than what NBC and CBS paid to split rights to 10 games last season, expect online properties to dig deep into the wallet as well.

Indeed, Twitter secured rights in 2016 for $10 million, a figure that ballooned to $50 million in 2017 for Amazon Prime Video.

While Verizon has select mobile streaming rights along with Fox, it could seek to expand them for its fledgling Oath platform. And YouTube, which is shipping the YouTube Red brand internationally, in addition to upping content selection (and pricing) for YouTube TV, is interested, CEO Susan Wojcicki told Recode’s Code Media confab this week in Huntington Beach, Calif.

But without deep-pocket market leader Netflix, which steadfastly declines any interest in live sports, dramatically up the bidding price, streaming rights should remain reasonably priced considering online viewership to Thursday Night Football pales in comparison to broadcast. An early season game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers generated 373,000 viewers on Prime Video, compared to 14.6 million for broadcast.





Nielsen: Netflix’s ‘Cloverfield Paradox’ Not Nearly as ‘Bright’

Netflix’s much-hyped post-Super Bowl LII streaming debut of former Paramount Pictures sci-fi sequel The Cloverfield Paradox generated a streaming audience of 5 million over seven days, according to Nielsen.

By comparison, Netflix’s buddy cop sci-fi original, Bright, starring Will Smith Joel Edgerton, generated 11 million views in its first three days.

Nielson, which last October bowed a SVOD content rating service, says it can track viewership of Netflix original content – a claim Netflix denies. Netflix does not disclose original content rating for competitive reasons.

Separately, Netflix original sci-fi series, “Altered Carbon,” generated 5.9 million viewers on average in its first seven days. By comparison, critical hit, “Stranger Things,” generated 4 million average viewers for the show’s second season.


Viacom CEO: ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ Sale to Netflix a ‘One-Off’ Deal

Following an underperforming legacy film slate, Paramount Pictures jumped at the chance to offload sci-fi drama The Cloverfield Paradox to Netflix, according to Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.

The subscription streaming video behemoth — which reportedly paid $50 million for the rights — promptly streamed the third installment in the franchise (following 10 Cloverfield Lane in 2016) globally at the conclusion of Super Bowl LII — after paying millions more for a TV commercial aired during the game. A first for a major Hollywood movie.

During the Feb. 8 fiscal call, Bakish described the arrangement —that bypassed theatrical distribution — as “bit of a one-off” deal.

“This was a unique situation that we thought was the right fit for the franchise,” Bakish told analysts. “It allowed us to take advantage of an attractive audience and really create some pretty compelling economics.”

With the domestic launch of the Paramount Network the lone positive for the studio (narrowing operating loss 28% was another) in Q1, the studio has its sights on upcoming tentpole releases Mission: Impossible — FalloutTop Gun: MaverickWorld War Z 2, branded films from Paramount Players (What Men Want, Dora the Explorer) and Paramount Animation (SpongeBob The Movie), and Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog.

Cloverfield Paradox, which received poor reviews and was slated for April release, apparently didn’t make the cut.

“We’re going to continue to focus the vast majority of our releases on traditional theaters, and we see a great opportunity there to take share driven by our ’19 slate and beyond,” Bakish said. “But, given our production capabilities and the landscape, we’re going to continue to look broadly and creatively for opportunities to create additional value for Paramount.”


Production Exec: Netflix ‘One of the Sexiest Players in the Market’

Creative types are lining up to work for Netflix, according to a top production executive.

“Netflix is one of the sexiest players in the market,” said Lisa Perrin, CEO, creative networks, Endemol Shine Group, Feb. 6 at the Digital Entertainment World conference in Marina Del Rey, Calif.

“It’s a great experience when you work for Netflix,” she said. “That is very different from a lot of the linear players, frankly.”

The SVOD pioneer offers creative types more freedom on who they work with and other perks, she said.

“In a playground, they’re who you want to hang out with,” she said.

During a discussion with Tony Emerson, managing director, worldwide media and entertainment, Microsoft, she also addressed the effect of artificial intelligence on production and marketing.

Endemol Shine is “the biggest production company in the world,” she noted, producing shows such as “Broadchurch,” “Black Mirror,” “Peaky Blinders,” “Fear Factor,” “Master Chef,” “The Biggest Loser” and “Big Brother.”

AI has allowed her company to more readily find exciting footage in the hours and hours of footage shot for “Big Brother,” saving time in editing. The show can also use biometrics and face recognition to find pertinent footage.

“Creatively, I think AI really opens up massive doors,” she said, noting that it could give super fans on social media access to real-time footage that they can edit and post.

Queried whether AI might affect the type of programming created by favoring repetitive content, she said, “I don’t think AI will make it neutral. I don’t think it will serve up the same thing again and again.”

She noted that Netflix and Amazon are using AI, “and yet some of the stories they are delivering up are the most different.”