4 features Netflix needs to succeed in emerging markets


Video streaming superstar Netflix has gone from strength to strength in the past few years, expanding dramatically and churning out top-notch original content.

However, the company still has a long way to go in several emerging markets, as local services in AsiaLatin America and South Africa enjoy varying levels of success. These services also bring crucial lessons for Netflix – here are a few features it needs to bring to the table.

User-adjustable video quality

Automatic video quality adjustment is a welcome feature if you’ve got an unpredictable connection, dynamically adjusting quality based on available throughput.

This only solves the issue of unstable internet speeds though, rather than data caps. The latter is unarguably the biggest obstacle facing streaming services, as many consumers use mobile connections.

Video quality options are just one of the many features Netflix needs to make a bigger dent in emerging markets

Much like YouTube, a simple quality adjustment setting would go a long way to alleviating cap anxiety. Hell, Google’s service allows you to go down to as low as 360p, 240p and 144p. And with support for the lowest of low resolutions comes support for bog-standard 3G.

Local content

The importance of local content can’t be overstated here. Sure, it’s great to have blockbuster movies and heavily hyped international TV shows, but local content is often the bread and butter for streaming services in several markets.

This is especially true for the likes of India and its own vibrant industry or China and its regulated market.

Offline functionality

Yes, the idea of offline features in a streaming app might sound silly to some first-world citizens, but it’s another essential feature for emerging markets.

Many citizens in emerging markets don’t have a high-speed/uncapped connection at home, forcing them to use public hotspots, work or visit better-equipped friends. In other words, on-demand viewing isn’t exactly “on-demand”.

Say what you will about the Naspers-backed service, but Showmax has done a rather good job in this department, allowing users to download up to 25 shows to watch offline (being valid for 30 days). A similar Netflix feature, with memory card support, would be right up many a consumer’s alley.

Support for local payment methods

This is another department where emerging market players seem to streak ahead of Netflix, as these services aren’t content to just accept cash from credit cards.

Between mobile money and prepaid vouchers, African and Asian markets have a diverse array of options when it comes to paying for goods/services. One example is music streaming service Spinlet, which allows Kenyans to pay for subscriptions with M-PESA.

Speaking of payments, it doesn’t hurt if streaming firms offer more diverse options, such as tiered subscriptions. Netflix already offers tiered quality options but it wouldn’t hurt to dip lower for emerging markets, such as offering weekly subscriptions too.



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