Ever since its launch in India in December, Amazon Prime Video India has been working on its game on all frontiers to be the numero uno in the Over-The-Top (OTT) space. That’s apparent from its aggressive partnership deals, the latest ones being with studio Paramount for streaming rights of the recently released ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’, ‘Star Trek Beyond’, and ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’as well as with filmmakerKabir Khan for (securing) his upcoming title ‘The Forgotten Army.’ Amazon mentioned it will be marketing the movie as an original.
Earlier, it was reported that Amazon Prime Video India has set aside investment of Rs 2000 crore in India, out of which Rs 500 crore would go for original content itself. Nitesh Kripalani, Director and Country Head, Amazon Prime Video India, didn’t confirm the number but merely put it as a ‘long-term investment.’ He adds,“Amazon will continue to invest in businesses that matter to our customers. In video, it's a commitment we made as a company and hence, we’re working with all the top filmmakers. It's a long-term investment.”
James Farrell, Head of Content, Amazon Prime Video, Asia-Pacific, adds, “It has been a large investment. We want to reach out to a lot of customers in India. You have to target a whole different set of audiences. So, it's a lot of content.”
On the content front, Farrell shared that regional content is received well on the service. He enlightens us more, “Tamil movies are doing very well. Our originals from the US are doing well. ‘The Grand Tour’ is so far the most popular show. Popular movies like ‘Batman,’‘Superman,’, and‘Mission Impossible’ also work for us.”Farrell also added that Indian original series will be coming out soon. “We are working on the exact date. It will be out pretty soon.”
When asked about venturing into sports, Kripalani hasn’t quite ruled that out. “We are evaluating all genres possible. We have signed up with National Football League (NFL) in the US to live stream it,” he said.
Kripalani is upbeat about the response Amazon Prime Video has garnered over the four months. The streaming service had already signed up 9.5 million active subscribers since its launch. “Customers are rewarding us with their time. They are paying for the service which is great. We are more focused about our customers and how we service them than the ranking and the numbers. We have seen digital piracy coming down year on year. In the last four months, the service has come up. We are doing a good job of solving the paying points for the customer. That's how our service has been growing month-to-month, day-on-day.”
Prime Video’s competitive pricing of Rs 499 per year has also worked in its favour in increasing its user base.
India’s slow bandwidth speed has been a major challenge but all OTT players have countered it with their own host of solutions like offline viewing, amongst others. Kripalani is making sure data consumption for video is ‘superlow’ while ensuring visual quality is ‘super high.’ He shares, “Our technology looks at what your available bandwidth on the service is. We are optimizing the data that is used to keep high-quality video. The majority of our catalogue is available for offline viewing. We empowerthe customer to choose what data bitrate he/she wants in a simplistic manner. We invented a data saver feature.”
Kripalani seems optimistic about the heightened competition from other global and local players like Netflix, Hotstar, and Voot. He adds, “India is a very big market. We focus on the basics for the customer and that's how we win in the long term.”