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Netflix set to tap Bollywood-mad India in pursuit of global viewers

MUMBAI: Netflix Inc’s global expansion is set to reach movie-mad India, industry executives said, where high-speed Internet connectivity is rapidly spreading among a vast population used to paying pennies for their latest Bollywood fix.

Slowing growth at home in the United States has put pressure on video-streaming service Netflix to grow internationally and India, where a fifth of the country’s 1.3 billion people are online, is widely seen as a likely next step in Asia.

Netflix declined to comment on its plans but industry executives told Reuters they expect an India announcement as early as this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where co-founder and Chief Executive Reed Hastings is scheduled to talk about the company’s international expansion.

“Netflix is entering India at the right time,” said analyst Tarun Pathak at Counterpoint Technology Research.

Most Indian Internet users go online via smartphones, which are increasingly capable of connecting to the latest, fourth-generation network (4G) which cuts streaming times considerably.

“We expect at least one in two mobile devices sold this year to be 4G equipped,” Pathak said.

The challenge is convincing Indians to spend, analysts said. Netflix’s average revenue per user (ARPU) in the third quarter was $25.29 in the United States and $21.59 abroad.

In India, where a movie can cost 29 rupees (44 cents) and monthly subscriptions are as little as 200 rupees, analysts expect ARPUs to be a fraction of that.

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