Netflix may be available in India but how does the local version compare to America’s flagship offering?
While Netflix is a dominating force in the US streaming industry, it’s had to fight hard for a fair share in the Indian market for a couple of reasons. It demands a high price while offering a comparatively small amount of Bollywood and Hindi-centric content, and the American newcomer also has to contend with a number of well-established local competitors like Hotstar, Airtel Movies and Voot.
For now, let’s ignore the larger war for your streaming dollar and focus instead on the differences between what Netflix India and its US counterpart offer. Are South Asian audiences getting the sort of library deserving of the second-largest streaming region in the world?
Prices: Netflix IN vs Netflix US
Netflix maintains regional parity when it comes to its subscription plans. No matter where you are in the world, you’ll be offered one-month free viewing as a taste test. After this, you’ll need to choose from the paid options: Basic, Standard or Premium.
You will need to pay INR500 for a Basic plan that is very much what it says on the tin. You’re looking at no support for high definition (HD) or ultra-high definition (UHD/4K) video streaming. Worse, you can only view the less-than-mind-blowing standard definition (SD) stream you’ll be getting on one device at a time.
The next tier up, Standard, is a happy medium for INR650 a month. The resolution of this stream gets upped to high definition, and you can now share it across two devices simultaneously.
Big spenders after the best experience possible will gravitate to Netflix Premium. For INR800 per month, your eyeballs will be treated with HD and Netflix’s ever-growing library of 4K offerings. Better yet, you can share this cutting edge entertainment across four devices at any one time.
How do the content libraries compare?
From the outset, it’s clear that Netflix India’s library looks diminutive compared to the massive wealth of TV shows and films on the US service. There are multiple explanations for this, including content exclusivity, language issues and copyright restrictions. That said, the Indian version isn’t without its local offerings that simply do not feature in the States. In an effort to secure a better foothold in the region, Netflix has secured hundreds of movies that cater to Hindi, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi and Tamil language speakers.
That said, when you compare Netflix IN to the 73 odd other countries supported by this global streaming service, the Indian library is surprisingly competitive. At the time of writing (January 2019), Netflix IN sits just within the top five regions in the world for TV and films totals. At last check (22 December 2018), Netflix US had 1,610 TV shows and 3,999 movies for a grand total of 5,609 titles whereas Netflix IN had 1,448 TV shows and 3,456 movies which comes to 4,904 titles.
What about kids programming?
Availability-wise, both regions share the majority of Netflix children’s programming. Currently, the jewel in this service’s crown is its ongoing partnership with DreamWorks Animation Television to produce quality original series. You’ll simply not find these critically acclaimed shows anywhere else: The Mr Peabody & Sherman Show, Dawn of the Croods, Dinotrux, Turbo FAST, Dragons: Race to the Edge and All Hail King Julien.
That being said, you will notice the exodus of AAA Disney content from the US version of Netflix isn’t as severe in its Indian cousin. At the time of writing (January 2019), Netflix IN seems to still have greater access to a ton of Disney films and TV shows, though this will no doubt change in the near future (if and when the Disney+ streaming service launches in that region).
In other good news, Netflix IN has made some tentative steps towards locally made originals for kids. For example, the first of the bunch was Mighty Little Bheem, a Green Gold Animation production that’s based on the existing Chhota Bheem series.
Does Netflix IN or Netflix US offer better quality streaming?
There’s very little difference between the services provided in these two regions. Globally, Netflix uses a one-size-fits-all technology to deliver viewers their content in line with the available Internet capabilities (called automated bit-rate adaption technology). The most important factor, then, is how decent the connection speeds are in your part of the world. This is especially true if you’re seeking out the bandwidth-intensive 4K content.