Byravee Iyer
Aug 4, 2016

Netflix hires ex-YouTube exec to drive business in Asia

The video-streaming service faces regulatory, content and competitive challenges in Asian markets.

Orange is the New Black: A Netflix original series
Orange is the New Black: A Netflix original series

ASIA-PACIFIC - Global video-streaming service Netflix has appointed YouTube’s Gaurav Pradhan as director of business development for Asia.

Based in Singapore, Pradhan will oversee business development in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Pradhan previously led YouTube’s product partnerships for India and Southeast Asia. He has also worked with Yahoo in India.

In May, Netflix hired Anthony Zameczkowski as VP of business development for Asia-Pacific to lead and manage strategic partnerships and business development.

Both these appointments come as the video streaming giant faces major problems in Asian markets around content, local competition and regulatory hurdles.

In Indonesia, for instance, the film censorship board slammed Netflix for carrying violent and sexual content. The communications ministry then demanded the firm set up a local office and pay taxes. Until then, state telco Telkom has blocked the service.

Competition from local streaming sites and global players such as Amazon, Hulu and HBO are also hurting the company. In India, HotStar and Eros have a large library of Bollywood movies and Indian TV shows online. According to Techcrunch, there are more than 35 streaming services catering to local markets in Asia. iFlix is available in Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines, and offers licensed content from US studios.  

Users have complained that Netflix's content libraries in many Asian countries are far smaller than in the United States. The company launched its services globally to more than 130 new countries, including certain markets in Asia on 6 January. Shortly after that, it began to crack down on users outside the US using proxy services to access the US version of the service.

Still, Media Partners Asia (MPA) estimates that Netflix could secure 9 million paying subscribers in Asia-Pacific by 2020.

According to MPA, Netflix sorely lacks local depth across big markets like India, Indonesia and Korea.

Some deals are currently underway. The firm recently announced its first original series in India based on author Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games. It has also recently hired Swati Shetty to push original content production and acquisition in India.

“The full array of Netflix’s US library will also take time to come online in many Asian markets. Licensing complexities may delay the process further,” said Vivek Couto, executive director of MPA. He predicts that a potential entry in China could take place by 2017, providing a boost to the business.

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