We are entering the fourth month of the pandemic and it isn't a lie when we say that all these months, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have been our only companions. Be it our highs or our lows, these streaming services have seen them all. We've binged all our favourite shows, cribbed about finding none of them interesting enough, and gone back to rewatch The Office for the fourth time. In a time when the world outside felt mundane and grey, entertainment from these platforms was a good way to forget that we are in the middle of a pandemic/climate crisis and basically, distract us enough from the real issues (which TBH is something we all need a bit of right now, though science may disagree). But did you know Indians pay some of the lowest rates in the world for streaming services?
A recent study, released by cybersecurity research firm VPNPro, says that India is one of the cheapest countries to avail subscriptions of online entertainment platforms from. Sharing the spot with countries like Brazil and Argentina, entertainment platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, and even Xbox Games cost substantially less here than the rest of the world.
A monthly Amazon Prime Video subscription costs Rs 129 ($1.71) in India, while the same costs almost Rs 1,000 ($12.99) in the U.S. India has the sixth cheapest Netflix plan in the world, being almost 90 percent less expensive in India than in Switzerland. The standard definition (SD) single-screen plan costs Rs 499, whereas the same costs Rs 943 ($12.48) in Switzerland. Moreover, Netflix’s mobile plan in India—a unique subscription offer that offers streaming only from mobile, not found anywhere else in the world—costs Rs 199 ($2.88) and is one of the cheapest plans anywhere in the world.
Music services like Spotify cost Rs 120 ($1.59) in India, but cost Rs 1,134 ($15.01) in Denmark, almost an incredible 10 times more. Apple Music is a whopping 1,045 percent more expensive in Denmark than India, whereas Spotify is 850 percent more expensive. Games in India are one of the cheapest as well—an Xbox game in India costs Rs 2,048, almost half of what it costs in the most expensive country Saudi Arabia (Rs 3,973).
This is due to a practice known as price discrimination—offering different prices for the same service. Service providers employ this tactic to maximise profits as the goal is to charge every customer as much as they are likely to pay. “Right off the bat, we see more incentive on the provider’s part to make the services more accessible," says the report. "That is to say, there is a lot more variation in price between wealthier and less-wealthy countries.”
But even though in absolute terms, the prices of the services seem lower than most of the world, when taken in the context of India, it is still pretty high. Based on purchasing power parity (PPP), these services are comparatively less affordable in India. For example, even though Xbox games are cheaper in India, looking at the costs as a percent of GDP, they are 11 times more expensive in India than in Singapore.
Regardless, online streaming services have taken the country by storm, and will continue to do so. A pre-pandemic survey conducted in March said that as many as 80 percent of people were switching to online streaming platforms and ditching traditional TV channels.
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