Netflix gets aggressive in India with a content slate of 32 originals

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Video streaming platform Netflix is scaling up its original content offering in the Indian market. The entertainment platform has finalised an ambitious slate of 12 series and 20 original local language films which are in various stages of production.

Among the originals it is working on includes a prequel of Baahubali franchise. Titled ‘Baahubali: Before The Beginning’, the series will comprise nine episodes and is based on Anand Neelakantan’s book, The Rise of Sivagami.

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos shed light on how the company looks at India as an opportunity. “We’ve got a very aggressive production agenda in India right now. There are about 12 local languages original series and 20 original local language films coming out of India, various states of production in India right now. And I think there is definitely different languages that you deal with inside of India in different levels of production,” Sarandos said.

“But there’s a show we’re working on right now called “Baahubali” that’s a prequel to a very popular movie that came out last year that actually is in multiple languages and was wildly popular in India because it had never been done before where it was appealing to all the different regional fans around the country, that we’re doing a prequel series to the film that’s also in multiple languages and shot in this incredible scale in India.”

Sarandos admitted that India is a difficult market, however, it is a big market which will continue to grow. “We want to be early and be setting the hopefully following in the success we were able to do with ‘Sacred Games’ and ‘Love Per Square Foot’ and all of our different love stories and all the different original projects there that have really been resonating in India in a way that I didn’t even think was possible, to be honest with you,”

He further stated that the ‘Sacred Games’ series has had a positive rub-off on the Netflix brand in India. “‘Sacred Games’ was a step change in our brand in India, because people were so excited about it and then people loved it so much that it kept kind of self-reinforcing itself. It’s possible to do something at that level that would help the business that would also be viewed outside of India, which is really exciting.”

He also noted that the company is doing cinema-infused television content that did not exist much in the country prior to ‘Sacred Games’. The need for cinema-infused content stems from the fact that Indian consumers love movies.

“People love movies there. Television, which has been mostly free ad-supported for the Indian market, mostly is kind of lower production value television, so people are never — there’s no Indian “Breaking Bad” that we’re trying to replicate in our model. We are kind of creating a new bit of programming for the audiences, and they love it. And because of that, that programming then travels, which is also great,” Sarandos averred.

Looking at the content slate for 2019 Sarandos noted that the company will have movies from directors Martin Scorsese, Michael Bay, and Noah Baumbach.

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