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.
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.