It started with a barrage of WhatsApp messages announcing “Netflix is here”. Seconds later, I was registering myself on their website. The process is simple, but needs a credit card even though the first month is free. This is an old trick. If you’re not interested in continuing beyond the free month, the onus is on you to cancel in time, or you’ll get charged.
The standard membership is Rs 500 per month. This is for some reason deemed too expensive by every single Indian tech website. But while they were busy predicting early death for Netflix, I learnt that multiple households can use the same account. So I’ve subscribed to the premium option that streams in Ultra HD and can be used on four screens simultaneously. Needless to say, my mum and brother have been given my password and `800 per month shared among three households doesn’t seem expensive at all. I find the collection of shows and movies good, even though their Indian movie selection process seems suspect and they seem to have an unhealthy obsession with Pablo Escobar (Colombian drug lord).
However India, despite its attempts at shining, has among the worst internet services in the world. Netflix has recommended a 5Mbps internet connection for smooth streaming. This is far from what most households have. But the real culprit is FUP (Fair Usage Policy) which is a term made up by internet service providers which lets them limit the data in your unlimited data connections (see box, right). Regular HD streaming uses 3GB of data per hour; ultra HD streaming uses 7GB of data per hour. At that rate, most Indian households will finish their monthly data allowance in a few days. The only solution is to get your internet from a local cable guy.
To conclude, as selfish as it may seem, I hope Netflix doesn’t become a huge hit in India and come under the government’s scanner. The last thing I would want is censorship and cigarette warnings within episodes of Narcos.