Netflix: Who Exactly Is It For in Pakistan?

A service so popular that it has become spawned its own pop culture references, Netflix is finally available in Pakistan. However, if you aren’t abreast of happenings in international markets, you might not be aware of what exactly it offers and for whom.

Basically, Netflix is a media company that offers a catalog of TV shows and movies for streaming in qualities up to 4k. Aside from content that’s available through partnerships and deals, they also produce their own original TV series and movies. In 2016, they have planned 31 new and returning TV series and 12 original feature films and documentaries.

Netflix: The Birth of Binge Watching

Netflix is a service that’s pioneered the phenomenon now called binge watching. What they found out was that people never get hooked to a TV show when they watch a pilot. It always take a few episodes for audiences to connect with the story and as such, they make available all episodes at the same time. People can consume a couple of episodes (or the entire season) in a single sitting.

Could Netflix Achieve Success in Pakistan?

There are a few factors which make Pakistan a unique market. For starters, people really aren’t in the habit of paying for online services. The wide spread use of torrents means that most of us already get our TV show and movies fix for free. Changing that habit is going to take some doing. Netflix has a cultural barrier to surmount here. Perhaps with the passage of some time, and unique options like 4K quality, might succeed in converting people into Netlix-ers.

So aside from kids who want to Instagram a mug of coffee and Netflix in the background, who exactly is the service’s intended audience?

Here are some categories of users who will like what Netflix has to offer:

  • A/V enthusiasts with cutting-edge display screens and sound systems can invest in a premium Netflix subscription, because of UltraHD (4K) content and surround sound for supported flicks.
  • Smartphone users who love watching media on their phones, yet are always perturbed by the lack of storage space, can take advantage of Netflix’s streaming playback.
  • People who are fed up of their local cable walas pathetic broadcast quality. Bear in mind that Netflix offers international content rather than those served by local channels.

A local cable operator charges 500 rupees on the average for 60+ channels (both local and overseas). A Netflix subscription starts at 800 Rupees to 1400 Rs. for premium package. The quality of the cable broadcast leaves a lot to be desired. Similarly, Netflix has a limited catalog of movies and TV shows (sorry Game of Thrones fans, for HBO shows you need HBO Go).

Considering Internet Speeds and Data Limits

We must note that internet speed for majority of Pakistanis are in shambles. Plus, we don’t have unlimited data limits, which is bad for Netflix streaming. This would leave many Pakistanis to resort to torrent like alternates, but who knows.

It won’t be out of place to mention that there are ISPs in west that don’t count your Netflix data in your total bill. Until that happens here in Pakistan, our data limits are going to be exhausted with Netflix pretty soon.

Just in case if you are wondering, here’s how Netflix can consume your data limits:

  • Basic video quality: Up to 0.3 GB per hour
  • Medium or standard video quality: Up to 0.7 GB per hour
  • High or best video quality: Up to 3 GB per hour for HD,
  • Ultra High or Ultra HD: Up to 7 GB per hour for Ultra HD

We checked HD streaming on 5MB FTTH connection and it was smooth. We are getting some positive reviews from PTCL customers as well, but if you allow us to speak frankly, Netflix grade video isn’t tailored for running on copper media.

While we are testing the speed results, we are currently assuming that experience wouldn’t be flawless, especially for higher definitions of video quality.

Content on Netflix Pakistan Could be a Deal Breaker

While there won’t be many watchers of what Netflix is offering in terms on content, regular watchers have told us that they are offering less than 20% of content in Pakistan when compared to that available in US and other markets.

House of Cards, for example, isn’t currently offered in Pakistan.

Also Read: How to Easily Access All American Netflix Shows in Pakistan

Then there’s near to zero Bollywood content and Indian TV Dramas, leaving 50% of our population totally uninterested in Netflix.

So before taking the plunge with Netflix, perhaps its a good idea to check what they have to offer. However, their library keeps on growing exponentially and now, with the rise of UltraHD media in the near future, Netflix seems like a good option for those who don’t want to make compromises on quality.

So what do you think folks? Will you be one of the ‘Netflix and Chill’ crowd or will you stick with traditional ways of consuming media? Let us know in the comments below.

Talal is a Director and the Chief Content Officer at ProPakistani. Reach out at [email protected]

  • In my case, PTCL 4Mbps was useless and upgrading does not necessarily solve this issue. Couldnt even start the stream after 2 minutes.
    So it is definitely not for PTCL BB users.

    • i agree with Hamid. i’m a 4Mbps Ptcl user and i’ve been using it mostly for tv shows or HD movies. used different online platforms in that case but speed is too slow to load HD contents. can’t upgrade to 8Mbps because this speed is not provided in my area. Netflix definitely not for 4Mbps users.

      • Just go to netflix website, either click sign up or join free for a month, select plan (HD or non HD), create account with your email and enter Visa/mastercard details.

  • but our internet speed sucks, i use 1mbps on ptcl with smart and it cost about 2700 rupees with tax, if i think of getting higher broadband speed then their is also a significant rise in telephone bill.
    waiting for sindh government to remove taxes, till then no to netflix……….and chill :P

  • Subscribed to Netflix. Watched whole season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones on PlayStation 3 over Zong 3G MBB.
    Few interruptions, but overall experience was good. Full HD.
    Too bad, the catalog is limited. Could not find majority of the series I follow.

  • Whatever, you will still need VPNs to fully experience Netflix in Pakistan. Only Netflix US has better catalog…

      • Well currently you dont need a VPN for registration. Register normally. You need VPN to get different contents based on the VPN server / IP location. Like if you switch to US IP, you will get rich contents.

  • There are definitely a few barriers
    1- Lack of Infrastructure to run Netflix (Slow speed on Unlimited PTCL and low volume on 3G/4G)
    2- Most of target market doesn’t have a Credit card to pay like students and low income people or people in small cities. (need to introduce prepaid options)
    3- Most of shows are available on Torrent in all qualities upto 1080P, so many people will not agree to pay a thing which can be download free
    4- Limited catalogue for Pakistanis

  • Netflix is running like a charm on my Mobilink 3G. I have subscribed to the 2 screen package with HD. Have been watching Narcos since yesterday. Content seems very less but still it is good. I’m giving it a try for the free month and will see if it is worth paying for. Nevertheless it brings instant entertainment in your hands without any waiting for downloads or freeing memory on your phone

  • Already subscribed. Working great on my PTCL copper connection for now (easily getting 1080p streams). I mostly never binge watch TV shows since I prefer to follow along weekly, but Netflix does let me watch shows I’ve never watched before which is a plus.

    The only reason I’m paying for it is because I hate hunting down torrents, downloading (and then seeding them because of private trackers) and then setting up media servers (Plex) so that the content is available on every device in my home.

    Netflix just makes things too simple to use, so I don’t mind paying $10 a month for the convenience.

    I should add that I’m still using my VPN to get around the limited content issue.

  • Shop centers should make Netflix gift certificate available for purchase like google play store gift cards.So those who don’t have credit card can also get Netflix account.

  • streamed two different movies onto two different devices on PTCL broadband (12mbps) without even a single pause for the entire duration. (Lahore).

  • Obviously all or most of the tech-savvy people will definitely go for it. I mean, especially for those including me who always cry for not having such things in Pakistan. But still, it won’t be able to get many people because

    1- subscription fee which is bit more then a local cable provider (more then even HD box subscription which is hardly 300 / month), and

    2. the payment is to be made online with credit/debit cards.

    I don’t think so it will get much popularity among common people. Speaking of content availability, hold on for a while, DTH is coming to Pakistan.

  • Until the GOP bans all torrents… i dont belive more than 20k people (extremely high estimate ) will sign up for netflix….

  • The article is very good, but the last line and a reference of kids Instagraming mugs with Netflix running in the background made me LMAO. The writer is totally ignorant of how Netflix “has spawned its own pop culture references” despite starting the article with this fact.

    Check out what does “Netflix and Chill” actually mean in the pop culture:

  • “Bear in mind that Netflix offers international content rather than those served by local channels.” This’s good this’s what I’d definitely prefer.

  • Works great on VPN , watched breaking bad and House of cards .. both got unlocked along with other shows

  • As a company expanding in a new region to increase user base is a good decision. But Pakistanis are difficult to please, to say the least.

  • Upgraded my connection to 4mb for Netflix, Now its disconnecting again and again, but after connecting, it works super smooth like makhan malaii smooth :) ….

    Line: Copper Wire
    City: WahCantt

  • I have noticed people using Netflix and chill casually. I hope you know the real meaning of it. It means fornication with Netflix running in background with your partner.

  • Use TVUnblock (Free) to unlock all the shows.
    Netflix is perfect for me as I have a 10Mbps connection + a PS4 and a Chromecast to stream Netflix. House of Cards deserves the big screen.
    Oh and I’m going to be sharing the 3 screen membership with 2 of my friends so it comes out to be 400PKR/ mo which is dirt-cheap.

  • I was offered today to test the service free for 1 month. So I just signed up to see how it works on my smart tv. I must thumbs up for the service and quality so far. Running very smooth and good quality on my PTCL 8mb BB connection. Let’s see how it works for the whole month and then I’m willing to pay. You can cancel anytime anyway, so no worries :)

  • first let me pop the bubble which everyone is screaming…..
    Netflix is not launched in Pakistan, the fact is Netflix just went worldwide. (skiping china)
    Netflix is always region Based and trust me contrary to everyone’s believe US Netflix isn’t the benchmark. (I’m a multi region user of Netflix for at least 3 years)
    Checking Indian Netflix believe me they aren’t any better than us minus Indian content.
    Netflix adds and subtracts its content on monthly bases, means some contents went off every month (mostly) after completing their licensing term while other stuff gets added.
    contrary to what most belief, Netflix will run just fine on a 2mb connection.
    also what and who netflix users are… ill just say what i am… im a tv holic (if that term exists) i like to watch tv series, movies even if i have watched them before, for example im watching Heroes these days, yesterday i watch MIB. now i really don’t want to download whole heroes season just to watch few episodes or i wont like to download whole that 70’s show just to have a few laughing moments….

    now what most don’t have that i think all should have if you have Netflix is a chromecast, because only than you’ll realize the ease and luxury of playing anything from your bed before sleeping and still leaving your phone alone.

    remember i also use chromecast to watch latest movies and shows via chrome browser cast option available on android. ( for that) so its been months that ive downloaded anything other than few movies i liked to watch on my home theater, than i download full 8/12 GB file for 1080P / DTS luxury.

  • Arrrg! written such a long comment for users and its not showing….. happened multiple times on propakistani. certainly wont type all that again.

  • > there are ISPs in west that don’t count your Netflix data in your total bill

    You should’ve also mentioned that this is wrong and against Net Neutrality. You should’ve mentioned the backlash T-Mobile’s BingeOn got. The west has been fighting for it for some years now. India started a few months ago. Currently, Net Neutrality isn’t a problem here but it will be soon. Better to educate people early.

    Also, I don’t think you know what Netflix and Chill means.

  • Ultra hd is of no use here, for hd 3gb per hour, we cannot consume that much, it surely is an advantage & a positive change for we Pakistanis.

  • If any of you have been facing this problem of disabled (High (best video quality, up to 3 GB per hour for HD, 7 GB per hour for Ultra HD)) , it is disabled. please see the attached image ? any thoughts on this.

  • with HOC not offered it makes a dead deal for pakistanis. what’s the use of the service if it’s prime tv show is not available

  • Ltd feature videos

    Watch more at LTD