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Digital Media

Netflix begins testing free but limited access to push subscriptions in India

Digital Media

With significant growth in the demand for both free and premium content, the video streaming market in India is growing at a fast pace. To cement its position in India, Netflix had introduced a mobile-only subscription to draw more users in July.

Now, it’s making available the premiere episode – ‘Bard of Blood’- its original local series to non-subscribers.

Viewers can watch selected episodes for a limited period on desktop and Android devices for free. The move aims to stir excitement around the series among potential viewers and drive paid versions. It’s worth noting that Netflix already provides a 30 days free trial period.

‘Bard of Blood’ is a spy thriller co-produced by Shah Rukh Khan-owned firm Red Chillies Entertainment. Its cast includes Emraan Hashmi, Vineet Kumar Singh and Sobhita Dhulipala. The series is based on a four-year-old espionage novel of the same name by debutant author Bilal Siddiqui.

Creating excitement around flagship series is not a new trend by streaming companies in India. Hotstar has been providing selective shows for free to its users while ALT Balaji doesn’t charge to watch the first episode of any series.

The strategy is similar to e-commerce and payments companies who entice shoppers via discounts and cash backs. Netflix sees India as a big market. Although it has less than 1.5 million subscribers base at the moment, it intends to add 100 million users from India.

Reaching a milestone of 100 million paying users would be an uphill task for the American firm as there has been intense competition in the Indian premium streaming space. Besides traditional broadcasters (Hotstar, MX Player et al), Jio and Amazon Prime, Alibaba has also been planning to have its streaming product in India.

Opening up select episodes of Bard of Blood is one of the many moves Netflix would implement to woo Indian users. While it has been able to sell subscriptions to the urban audience to some extent, how it draws considerable interest from viewers in smaller cities is remain to be seen.

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