Amazon Prime Video to continue investing in local content


A new partnership with Airtel will allow prepaid users of the telecom major to avail the video streaming service as a standalone offering.

India is among the fastest growing markets for Amazon Prime Video (APV) globally, and the content streaming platform is focussing its investments on bringing more content and expanding the service to a larger audience in the country, a top company official said.

APV, which has recently partnered with Airtel to bring a mobile-only plan (a global first) for Indian users, competes with platforms like Netflix, Disney+Hotstar, Zee5 and others in the country.

“We’ve been in the country for the last four years and growing very steadily…APV is watched in over 4,300 cities and towns in the country, and India is amongst the fastest growing markets for Prime and APV. Our investments in content across 10 languages, both originals and films, have helped us,” Amazon Prime Video India Director and Country General Manager Gaurav Gandhi said. .

He added that as more customers opt to watch content online, there would be as many people watching video online as those watching television over the next three to four years.

The company does not disclose country-specific subscriber numbers. While previously, APV service was bundled with the Prime offering of the e-commerce giant, the latest partnership with Airtel will allow prepaid users of the telecom major to watch APV content as a standalone offering.

Streaming services have had multiple tailwinds that have fuelled its growth in India over the past few years. Factors like affordable data, ubiquitous availability of mobile phones and engaging content have driven adoption of these services, especially among the millennials.

Even though living room TV consumption continues to grow strongly, mobile phones remain a dominant medium for people to access content with an estimated 85% of India’s internet access being mobile driven.

Mr. Gandhi said APV has been investing deeply across Indian language films and shows. He cited examples of shows like Four More Shots Please, Paatal Lok, Bandish Bandits and Breathe introduced last year, followed by films like Shakuntala Devi, Gulabo Sitabo or Coolie No. 1 in the later half of the year.

APV also added content in other Indian languages including CU Soon (Malayalam), V (Telugu), Soorarai Pottru (Tamil), AB Aani CD (Marathi), Ponmagal Vandhal (Tamil), Law (Kannada), Comicstaan Semma Comedy Pa (Tamil original series) and Putham Pudhu Kaalai (Tamil anthology of five films).

“As we get into early 2021, we already have our first big original for the year with Tandav. So we have a constant drumbeat of content, not just in Hindi but across languages, which continues to get us new customers and engage our existing customers,” he added.

Mr. Gandhi noted that there is a very strong demand for international shows as well in India, and Indian shows find audience in global markets.

“Our Indian shows are consumed around the world, one in five customers of our Indian originals is outside India. Our international shows get coverage – with the dubs and subs – right across the country. So, we really pride ourselves about the fact that we’re able to offer all that kind of selection and we continue to invest behind on both sides of it,” he said.

Mr. Gandhi said APV has over 30 shows in production and over 50 in development, and it continues to bring in movies across languages on the platform within weeks of theatrical release.

“We really feel very good about our content investments as well as marketing, and we deeply invested on our product to make it local. You can add the UI as a local language, we are available on almost every device possible, we have partnerships with telcos and TV distributors…So we feel pretty good about our lineup, our investments and our growth going forward,” he said.

Adoption of these over the top (OTT) platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+Hotstar saw further acceleration during the pandemic-induced lockdown amid restricted social activities like visits to movie theatres.

Asked if the consumption could drop as the situation around the pandemic improves, Mr. Gandhi answered in the negative.

“I think that the behaviour change of people coming online and experiencing premium content is not transitory, it’s for good. Once you get used to watching content online at a time, place and device of your choice and you access the high quality, premium cinematic value content or early window films, then you don’t usually say I do not want to watch more online videos. I think the shift to to experience online video is more permanent,” he explained.

He added that APV continues to see big customer acquisitions and high engagement on the platform.

“There is so much headroom for growth overall in this industry and we are all just getting started because customers are watching more and more videos online,” he added.

On the issue of content regulation on OTT platforms, Mr. Gandhi said: “I think the key aspect there is about finding the right balance between what the customer chooses to watch, what our creators can create and what are the laws of the land are, and we are very focused on that finding that balance right across.”

“We’ve always done that and we will continue to do that as we move forward,” he added.

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