Karan Johar to create digital content exclusively for Netflix

Netflix has entered into a long-term deal with Johar’s digital content studio Dharmatic Entertainment.

By Gaurav Laghate & Himanshi Lohchab

MUMBAI: In a significant move, global OTT major Netflix has signed an exclusive content deal with Karan Johar’s newly formed digital content studio Dharmatic Entertainment.

As part of the multi-year deal, Dharmatic will supply all its content - fiction and non-fiction series as well as films – only to Netflix.


“Netflix’s global vision matches with our legacy of providing a gamut of offerings and allowing creative freedom. Our alliance with Netflix is very organic,” Johar told ET.

“We have worked together on ‘Lust Stories’ in the past and now we are entering into this partnership, which is much more than just business transaction. It is an emotional alliance, a relationship,” Johar added.

For Netflix this could be the biggest deal for the Indian market. In the past, it had signed content deals with Shahrukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment for films and web series and Aamir Khan Productions for the actor’s films. However, Netflix so far has not had exclusive arrangement for content with any studio in India.
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While the two companies refused to share the details of the deal, including the total number of series or films, Srishti Arya, director - International Original Film, India at Netflix said that it’s a long-term deal that spans across genres.

“Dharmatic will create content across formats including scripted as well as non-scripted content and films, which will directly release on our platform,” Arya said.

“We allow our creators full creative freedom and support, and Karan is a master storyteller. This deal will benefit our members across the world,” added Monika Shergill, director – International Originals, India at Netflix.

The platform and the content house are keen to create new shows that showcase cutting-edge story-telling. “Our vision is to explore new boundaries with Netflix,” said Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma Productions.
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The move is also in line with Netflix’ global strategy as it is anticipating more competition in India from local players like Hotstar, MX Player and ZEE5 as well as global players like Amazon’s Prime Video. Most of the players have upped their investments in Indian original content. The entry of Disney+ and Apple TV+ later this year is further expected to increase competition in OTT space.

As per market estimates, Netflix has just over 1.2 million subscribers in India. It claims to have over 151 million paid subscribers in over 190 countries.
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Since its launch in India in January 2016 , Netflix had been a somewhat slow and deliberate on signing content deals. While rival Amazon Prime has been quick off the block acquiring films from top studios including Yash Raj Films, Excel Entertainment, Dharma Productions, Vishesh Films, and TSeries.

On the original web series front too, Netflix has launched fewer titles, including ‘Sacred Games’, ‘Ghoul’, ‘Leila’ and ‘Delhi Crime’ as well as kids animated series ‘Mighty Little Bheem’ compared to Amazon.

As per a recent KPMG report, India has over 300 million online video viewers, expected to reach 550 million by FY23, while the total number of video streaming services has gone up from 9 in 2012 to over 35 at present.
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