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Netflix has made its global aspirations clear. The subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service rolled its service out to more than 130 countries in January 2016. The company has quickly gained a prominent position in the Philippines, but its success is less assured in Singapore and India, according to research from AIP Corporation.
The research firm found that 60% of internet users surveyed in the Philippines in February 2017 subscribed to Netflix, more than competitors iflix (39%) and Hooq (32%).
In India, Netflix badly trails both Hotstar, used by 52% of those polled, and Amazon India (49%), with just a 12% penetration rate among respondents to AIP Corporation’s survey.
Hotstar, operated by entertainment and media company Star India, has relied on its live streaming rights for cricket matches and Bollywood content, both of which are heavy favorites among video viewers in the country, to stave off competition. Meanwhile, Amazon Prime has sharply undercut Netflix’s pricing strategy in India, offering customers expedited shipping on ecommerce purchases bundled along with its online video catalog at a fraction of Netflix’s monthly fee.
Singapore’s SVOD users still favor telecom StarHub’s service, StarHub Go. AIP found that 71% of respondents subscribed to StarHub Go, compared with 47% for Netflix and 35% for Amazon Prime.
Clearly, local SVOD services now face a significant challenge from US-based Netflix and Amazon. Netflix, for its part, has taken pains to appeal to consumers in emerging economies in a few different ways.
In November 2016, Netflix introduced a feature allowing users to download some of its content for offline viewing, a feature that is likely to appeal to customers who have irregular access to solid broadband. Customers can avoid the frustration of slow connections and the costs of telecom data usage fees by not streaming at all. Instead, they can wait until they have access to free Wi-Fi and then download files and view the content later.
In addition, Netflix has invested in new artificial intelligence technology designed to determine when a user’s stream is being carried by a slow internet connection, and then use a data compression technique that limits a loss in image quality. Netflix has stated that the technology was developed specifically with emerging markets in mind.
Local competitors like Hooq are not going away without a fight, however. In January 2017, it was revealed that Singapore-based Hooq raised an additional $25 million from its three founding companies to take on multinationals like Netflix and Amazon, companies that already have the cash needed to scrap for subscribers.
Forget the notion that Gen X is a small market: It isn't. The real problem for marketers is that Xers—though now earning and spending more per household than other generations—are financially stressed. The good news? Their digital usage, along with their TV viewing, makes them eminently reachable.
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