Indians Prefer Free Digital Content Over Paid Services Like Netflix, Amazon

YouTube leads the pack for free content in India for 78.1 percent of users


A study by free internet provider Jana indicates that nearly 30 percent of Indian consumers in a sample survey plan to cancel paid video subscriptions over free content, with YouTube being the dominant platform of choice.

Since entering the Indian market, streaming giants Netflix and Amazon have made aggressive moves to capture subscribers in the world’s second most populous country.

A new study, however, reveals that Indians prefer to stream free content offered by YouTube over paid services.

The findings come from Boston-based Jana, which claims to be the largest provider of free internet in emerging markets through its mCent browser, in a study titled "Video Streaming Services Report."

For its report, Jana surveyed nearly 2,000 mCent users in India to determine consumer sentiment and trends across the streaming video landscape. The study found that 63.7 percent of surveyed users said they only stream free content from platforms like YouTube, MXPlayer and Fox’s Star India network-backed digital platform Hotstar, which also offers a free ad-sponsored service in addition to a paid service which costs $13.87 per year.

Only 7.5 percent of users said they streamed more paid content than free content, while 9 percent said they streamed paid and free content about the same and 19.8 percent said they streamed more free content than paid content.

With 6 in 10 users preferring to only stream free content, Jana said its data showed that "the net impact of free content is poised to have a massive impact on paid subscription services with 29.1 percent of respondents saying they plan to cancel all premium services altogether."

YouTube leads the pack for free content in India for 78.1 percent of users, followed by MX Player garnering 57.5 percent. Hotstar’s free ad-supported service came in third at 38.7 percent.

“Our study shows that along with increasingly affordable data rates in India, consumer consumption of video content is also on the rise," said Jana co-founder and CEO Nathan Eagle. He explained that with free content from YouTube, JioTV and MXPlayer, "we expect this will have a dramatic impact on premium subscriptions in both the long and short term, as millions are planning to ditch paid services altogether."

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