Will Netflix mark a new dawn for Pakistani entertainment?

Published: January 7, 2016
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Users in Pakistan can now stream TV shows and movies on Netflix for as low as $7.99 per month. PHOTO: SHOWBIZANDROIDPK

Users in Pakistan can now stream TV shows and movies on Netflix for as low as $7.99 per month. PHOTO: SHOWBIZANDROIDPK

KARACHI: 

Almost eight years after revolutionising digital programming with its online streaming portal, Netflix has opened its doors to Pakistani users. The company has made the service available in 130 new markets, thus expanding its operations to a total of 190 countries.

According to Netflix’s official website, users in Pakistan can now stream TV shows and movies for as low as $7.99 per month, with the advantage of obtaining a month-long free trial prior to subscription.

Television giant Netflix comes to Pakistan

Even though local films such as Na Maloom Afraad, Zinda Bhaag and Josh were already available on the platform for a year, the service was yet to officially launch operations in the country.

Numerous stakeholders of the local entertainment industry have shared their excitement at Netflix’s arrival, noting how it may add another dimension to the growing film and television mediums.

Talking to The Express Tribune, film and TV producer Badar Ikram noted that Netflix is an excellent opportunity to reach out to greater audiences worldwide. “As it is, our television serials are appreciated by Indian audiences. Now this would help further our viewership as we can broadcast our content in multiple regions,” he noted.

Where Netflix is primarily known for its television programming, the service also houses an extensive film library. With DVD sales inching towards extinction, industry bigwigs believe the introduction of the portal will give local film producers an opportunity to sell digital rights for their movies.

Netflix and no chill: Twitter divided over TV giant’s entry into Pakistan

“Previously we had only two options. Either sell broadcast rights or upload the film on YouTube for free. But now we have another alternative,” remarked Na Maloom Afraad producer Fizza Ali Meerza.

Even Ikram concurred with this view, noting that unlike Indian films, Pakistani movies are bound to do well on Netflix. “Indian films are heavily pirated and are made available only a day after their release. On the other hand, Pakistani movies are not pirated and with a huge number of expatriates keen on following local cinema, this is a great opportunity for local film-makers.”

While many have spoken in favour of the hyped launch, there are those who are unsure about its prospects. Praising the company’s decision to begin operations in Pakistan, writer-director Vasay Chaudhry said it is unlikely that the service would change the landscape of the local entertainment industry. “It is great that an international platform like Netflix, which monetises content, is launching in Pakistan. Portals such as these are better than YouTube which contains a lot of pirated content. It ends up being of no use to the content creator,” said Chaudhry.

“Secondly, those who use Netflix don’t follow Pakistani serials and dramas. They constitute a very small percentage of the total audience whereas people in rural stations like Gujrat, Larkana and Rahim Yar Khan will watch Dayar-e-Dil rather than Netflix. Plus the content being created by TV channels and production houses is not for online platforms,” he added.

Zinda Bhaag to be the first Pakistani film on Netflix

Although there were many who had been using Netflix in Pakistan for years, thanks to proxies, bandwidth limitations in particular were a major hindrance. Jalaibee Director Yasir Jaswal said good internet speed is necessary for smooth usage of the service.

Despite terming the launch as significant, Waar director Bilal Lashari said the launch will allow local film-makers a level playing field to compete in the international market. However, he said Netflix’s mode of payments is a real obstacle. “It’s great that Netflix is now open to Pakistan but in a country where the credit card culture is yet to take root, it will be interesting to see how it performs.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Owais U.
    Jan 7, 2016 - 10:19PM

    Netflix has their streaming distribution broken down into the regions they are catering to. For e.g. the streaming movies/shows seen in the U.S region will not have the same content the UK or Canada region is able to see. Similarly, I am sure they will be catering to the Pakistani/Indian region with all Bollywood movies currently offered in their Foreign category, which will be a lackluster event if most of the programming available are going to be Bollywood films that are easily accessible within Pakistan.

    I am still waiting for Netflix to expand their Pakistani movie collection. Last one available was Zinda Bhaag. Let’s see what Rs850/month opens their viewership to.Recommend

  • Woz ahmed
    Jan 8, 2016 - 2:48AM

    How many people have reliable fast internet connections ?

    Media is streamed so you need reliable internet and electricity.

    Majority of people connect to internet via mobile.

    Good start, but too early for our market, subscription free would help develop our market, but otherwise is meaningless.Recommend

  • Adnan
    Jan 8, 2016 - 5:32AM

    Let see how PEMRA reacts to this as Netflix needs an IPTV license from them, which can not be given to any foreign company. Secondly, how will ales tax and or Income tax be collected from Netflix. As is PEMRA is still trying to launch DTH in the country.Recommend

  • Mary Tourena
    Jan 8, 2016 - 6:59AM

    Thanks for the article. Good news for people who don’t have Netflix in their country. However, the new regions of Netflix will have a maximum number of 500 unique titles which is very low compared to US Netflix (5000 titles). You can use geo unblocking services such as Unotelly like I do and access content from all regions of Netflix. I am using this method for more than one year and imo, it provides great value for the money I spend on my Netflix sub.Recommend

  • Asim Ali
    Jan 8, 2016 - 10:01AM

    Subscribed to Netflix yesterday. The library is small but has some serials which I am interested. Quality was fantastic and am really happy with the service. I am sure with the passage of time the number of titles would increase. Recommend

  • Faraz
    Jan 8, 2016 - 10:15AM

    I just subscribed for Netflix yesterday. Streaming was smooth along with good sound quality, but as mentioned above, very limited content. But its first day, so I am hoping more quality content will be made available in future, otherwise I do not think it will be good value for money.Recommend

  • Antiq
    Jan 8, 2016 - 12:19PM

    Before inundating this post with comments like “whats-the-use-of-netflix-we-have-slow-internet”. Let yourselves know that Netflix requires a minimal of 0.3mb speed to stream. Even for ultra HD if you have a 1mb connection it will stream fine. They have launched this worldwide now. Obviously they have done their homework better than us. It’s a big step. I am already up for a subscription. Hopefully they will find a distributor like in India, inorder to smooth the payment procedures. Recommend

  • Karachiite
    Jan 8, 2016 - 2:40PM

    Payment matter is easy to solve, but there is only one solution, i.e. easypaisa etc. by using mobile phone balance from telecom operators. Thats how more than half the online payment system works in Pakistan.Recommend

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