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Heavyweights like Netflix and Disney Battle for Indian Market

ValueTheMarkets News Commentary - The Indian entertainment market is growing at a rapid rate that far outstrips contemporaries in the West. The huge nation of more than 1 billion people is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of nearly 15% over the next five years according to Statista. This article discusses the issue with reference to Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS), Paramount Global (NASDAQ: PARA) and QYOU Media (TSXV: QYOU) (OTCQB: QYOUF).

With a huge population dominated by young people, an emerging middle class and rapid adoption of technology, India represents a compelling opportunity for entertainment companies. We'll explore here how some, like Netflix, appear to be underperforming and facing criticism for their efforts. Meanwhile, Disney has seen some success but might be bailing out of the country as it faces increasing competition from the unlikely form of Paramount's JioCinema. Harnessing the power of cricket has yielded explosive viewing figures, but producing local content seems to be the key to growth in this market.

QYOU Media (TSXV: QYOU) (OTCQB: QYOUF) produces, distributes and monetizes content created by social media influencers and digital content stars.

The company has recently announced the launch of a new smart TV channel dedicated to Bollywood and Indian entertainment industry news.

The channel continues the company's tried and tested method of using creator-led content. That's because this new venture is a collaboration with Bollywood Hungama, a leading social media destination for Bollywood gossip.

With the Indian smart TV market having tripled in the last 18 months and making up more than 90% of TVs sold in the country over the last year, focusing on the space could be a smart strategy.

However, with its wide variety of content being distributed across app-based platforms, video-on-demand services, traditional networks and even gaming platforms, the company is reaching over 125 million Indian households weekly as it strives to build an entertainment empire.

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) is another company seeking to capitalize on the huge Indian entertainment market. According to the Economic Times, the streaming service's subscriber base in the country floats around between the 8 million and 10 million mark.

There is a huge amount of content created specifically for the market on the platform. These Indian Netflix originals include 59 original movies and even more television shows, as well as several stand-up comedies and documentary features.

While this sounds like a significant amount of both subscribers and local content, it might not be enough.

Analysts at AllianceBernstein have noted that the streaming giant lags behind several big-name competitors in the country in terms of subscriber numbers, despite attempts to entice people on board with price cuts.

The key problem with Netflix's offering in India? Alliance Bernstein analysts point to a lack of locally produced content, which makes up just 12% of its offering for Indian users.

Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS) is at the other end of the streaming spectrum. This entertainment giant has performed strongly in India, obtaining approximately 40 million subscribers through its Disney+ Hotstar offering, which is the largest streaming platform in the country.

The platform has an emphasis on local networks, carrying content such as films, television series, live sports and original programming. This content is combined with established Disney brands and franchises like Walt Disney Studios, Pixar and Lucasfilm, creating an entertainment offering with big-brand and local crossover.

However, Disney has faced major competition in the region too. Recent reports suggest the entertainment powerhouse could even opt to sell Hotstar off to Indian billionaire Gautam Adani. There is some suggestion that this is due to pressure from emerging competitor JioCinema.

This growing streaming giant even has a major Western entertainment company behind it…

Paramount Global (NASDAQ: PARA), with their Paramount+ streaming app, have had fair success too, with second-quarter earnings showing a 47% increase in revenue from the platform, while viewing hours rose too.

However, it's the company's activities in India that we're interested in.

That's because it owns a 13% minority stake in JioCinema owner Viacom18, offering significant exposure to the rapidly growing Indian streaming outfit. Its growth has been aided by the decision to show Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches for free.

Indeed, the 2023 IPL final set a record for concurrent viewership of a streaming broadcast, attracting over 120 million unique viewers.

The success of this platform led Paramount to recently shelve plans to launch its own app in India, instead opting to release content as part of JioCinema's premium package. This could potentially supercharge an already wildly successful product.

Several strategies have been employed as companies compete to dominate the Indian entertainment market. Netflix appears to have failed to lean heavily enough into locally produced content in its efforts, with Disney, QYOU and Paramount all using local studios and creators to steer the success of their content. Aside from this, exploiting India's fascination with cricket and growing interest in tech and gaming appears to be key to ensuring continued success.



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