With platforms like Netflix and Spotify skyrocketing, it’s only a matter of time before the hugely beneficial and engaging ‘Subscription-Based Services’ become a thing in the country. With the recent history suggesting otherwise, let's find out if the people would actually cash in to watch what the native entertainment industry has to offer.
A subscription-based platform is based on a business model where a customer pays for a service or a product at a regular interval. This concept is nowhere new and has grown exponentially over the past decade. From Netflix to Spotify and Amazon Prime, the big companies are implementing this method which has been proven to generate revenue over the longer run.
The most recent growth of this platform has been seen in India, with Amazon Prime and Netflix both investing hugely to create series and movies dedicated solely to their Indian community. For a country with over 1.37 billion people, this investment seems super beneficial in the long run. However, in a not-so sophisticated country that has only over 30 million people, a homegrown Subscription-based service seems a challenge. The Internet is all about numbers. The more number of people, the beneficial the platform.
Challenges in Nepal for a local streaming service:
As history suggests, the biggest challenge is the culture and the people. Most of the viewers think since they’ve already paid for the internet, they must get every service available for free. The concept of ‘paying’ to listen to a song or to watch a series is limited to very few people in Nepal.
A challenge with robust royalty is also prevalent. Movie producers are often criticized for not putting their movies on to youtube, which they’ve every right not to. Providing a robust royalty for content creators, movie owners, and singers may solve the issue.
A challenge present to the entire world and definitely to a country with serious security issues is piracy. Once an online streaming service is launched, duplicating and pirating the services it provides becomes fairly easy, which if controlled with strict laws, can improve the situation.
The quality of the content provided to viewers is also regularly questioned. Nepali movies are more criticized than they’re praised, and only a few actually make it big. The Nepali music is also easily available for free on Youtube as of now, thus making it tougher to establish a platform like Spotify in the country.
Iflix is the closest we’ve come to a Nepali subscription video-on-demand service. It is not exactly a Nepali-centric platform and has around 25 million users on its service across 13 countries in Asia. Started in Malaysia, Iflix was launched in Nepal by Ncell, a powerful telecom company in the year 2017. Ncell was naturally the biggest promoter of the app in the country, providing various offers to its telecommunication based customers for this service.
However, Iflix was abruptly shut down by Ncell on June 6, 2020, raising more questions to the future of subscription-based service in Nepal. Before Iflix, Ncell also introduced the Yonder music app in Nepal, a digital music streaming platform that provided music for free, only to be shut down in the future.
The reason for the fall of a video-on-demand service is speculated to have been the increasing popularity of an international competitor in the form of Netflix, and Iflix failing to match the quality of its international counterpart.
As of now, this does not seem to be the right time to launch a new local subscription-based platform in Nepal. However, if done right, it could become more of an opportunity than a challenge. The market is very small and the competition on the local level is not too high. We have a lot of catching up to do if we are to compete with Netflix or Spotify. It’s tough, but definitely not impossible.