Prime Video Channels is a marketplace for video entertainment content: Chaitanya Divan

Divan, Head - Prime Video Channels, Amazon Prime Video, spoke about the new service launched today and how it will benefit the OTT ecosystem and consumers alike

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Updated: Sep 24, 2021 8:59 AM
Chaitanya Divan

Starting today, Amazon has launched its global service Prime Video Channels in India. The intention is to create a video entertainment marketplace in India, which boasts of over 40 OTT platforms and counting. Prime Video Channels' primary aim is to offer friction-free and convenient access to a wide range of premium content from multiple video streaming services, all available at a single destination. Prime Video Channels will be part of the Prime Video app which comes bundled with Amazon Prime subscription.

Chaitanya Divan, Head Prime Video Channels, Amazon Prime Video, spoke to exchange4media about the new service and how it will benefit the OTT ecosystem and consumers alike.

Edited excerpts:

Tell us about the Prime Video Channels launch in India and the content partners that you have on-board?

We launch starting tomorrow, 24th September, with eight partners on-board including Lionsgate Play, Eros Now, Mubi, Discovery+, DocuBay, Shorts TV, Hoichoi, and Manorama Max. These eight partners bring almost 10,000 titles at launch and this spans the gamut of blockbuster cinema, art house films, documentaries from 100+ countries, award-winning short films, lifestyle and wildlife content, and of course premium local language content as well.

Globally, Prime Video Channels launched about five years back in the US and has expanded rapidly now to 11 countries. India is the twelfth country where we are launching. In this short period of time, it has also expanded to 350+ partners globally. This rapid expansion in selection that has happened is something that we are looking to do in India as well. So we are launching with these eight partners, but we have others in the pipeline, and we will continue expanding this selection.

Prime Video Channels is a marketplace for video entertainment content, and it brings together multiple partners all inside the Prime Video app. From a customer point of view, what it really does is it really delivers a selection of choosing content from different partners and the convenience of having all of this video, the ability to subscribe, the ability to discover content inside one app.

Why have big OTT platforms not signed up for this?

Today, Prime Video gets viewership from 99% of India's pin codes across 4,400 cities and towns. These customers engage very deeply with us. It allows us to get a very deep understanding of preferences, which is evident from the consistent hits that we have provided across our originals, licenced movies and TV shows. It's the same customer understanding that we have applied to our selection of launch partners. The different genres and languages that these language partners provide are catering to very specific of our customers, and they are desired for the kind of content, but over time we will continue expanding the selection, and we will continue listening to our customers. We will look to give them whatever content they want to watch.

You mentioned selection and convenience, will the consumers also get benefit as far as pricing is concerned?

Today, if I want to watch a movie, I have to jump from one app to another to figure out where that movie is available. Once I figure that out, then I have to create an account there, I have to enter my credit card details to start a subscription, and after that I get to watch a movie. That still is not the end of the story because if I want to watch that service on another device I can't do it because some apps don't work on all the devices. If it's a couple of months down the line, chances are that I have forgotten my password. All of that hassle which a customer faces is what Prime Video Channels is addressing. It's a single app, the convenience of easily discovering content, subscribing to services that you want, and you can pick and choose which services you want to watch. All of this gives control and convenience to the customer. That's what is the core benefit.

In terms of pricing, we are launching with annual plans. We have identified annual plans with our partners because the annual plan really provides the best value to customers. At launch, our partners are also offering price off as an introductory offer. We will listen to our customers whether they want monthly plans or other type of plans. We will expand the different offerings so that the ultimate choice is with customers.

How will your content partners benefit from this association?

Our partners will benefit in three categories. Prime Video has huge reach, and it is available on 100s of devices starting from all the smart TVs that are sold in the country, all the smartphones that are available in the country, personal devices like tablets, computers etc. Prime Video as an app is already on those devices and that's the first thing that partners get. This unparalleled reach which Prime Video brings and takes their content to customers everywhere. The second benefit is Prime Video's technology and streaming infrastructure that partners get access to. The third benefit is the solid global expertise that we have in customer service and billing in managing customer relationships. From a partner's point of view, the one thing they are very good at is creating content, but the benefits that I talked about are not skills that partners readily have. Amazon brings these benefits as ready suites to partners so that they can focus on creating great content. All the features that are available on Prime Video will be available for our partner content from day 1.

Since content consumption will happen on Prime Video app, your partners will not get the traffic and insights about how their content is performing. Is that correct?

Partners will be able to understand what content is working. We will always help our partners to make better informed choices on what kind of content to deliver to customers. If they are watching Lionsgate Play which has just launched Oscar winner 'The Father' and suddenly it gets a lot of viewing from our customer base then Lionsgate Play will know that.

What kind of arrangement do you have with OTT platforms?

I can't comment on the specific financials but yes there is a financial arrangement of course and why are partners happy to do that, it's because of the benefits that they get as well. Globally, most of the partners have extended their distribution deals with Prime Video Channels. In India, six out of the eight launch partners have worked with Amazon in other markets. They have seen the value that Prime Video channels has brought to them, and they are willing to extend the relationship to India as well. Hoichoi and Manorama Max are first time partners for us, and the remaining six have worked with us in other markets where we are present.

Right now, customers will have to subscribe to each OTT separately on Prime Video Channels. Is there a plan to create a bouquet which has all the services for a single price point?

We are launching with annual à la carte packs but like I said we will closely listen to our customers and if there is customer demand for any sort of packaging or offering which is different we will definitely roll that out.

Do you any plans to launch linear live TV channels on the platform?

That's not the focus right now. Does the technology exist? Yes. Is that the focus at launch? No. Our focus is partners who have VoD content. Today, customers are really benefiting and loving that on-demand experience. But if customers start demanding linear, then we can cater to that because we have the ability to do linear. Some of our partners like Discovery+ and Manorama Max also offer live TV channels in addition to on-demand content. On Prime Video Channels, if you subscribe to Manorama Max or Discovery+ you will get both VoD content and live TV channels.

Is live sports also part of your focus area?
Sports is a very interesting genre. We have invested in it. We have started with the cricket rights from New Zealand board and India tours twice to New Zealand in 2022 and later. This will be available as part of our Prime Video service. We are in talks with other partners who will launch soon and make live sports services available as part of Prime Video Channels. We will offer whatever our customers demand whether it is sports, mass entertainment, niches that are not available today.

What are the customer demands from an aggregation platform like Prime Video Channels?

The biggest pain point for customers is that while they want to watch a lot of content, it's not just easy for them to subscribe to or discover that content. Even after they have done subscriptions, the experiences vary since they have to jump from app to app. One big learning for us has been that customers want this unified experience of having all their preferred video in one place. It just makes life so easy for them. Prime Video Channels' aim is to make the journey to watch content friction free and what is left is story and the customer.

What kind of adoption do you expect for Prime Video Channels in India?

If global trends are to go by, then it has seen tremendous love from customers, large subscription growth for partners. We hope to replicate that in India. Jeff Bezos last year said that Prime Video is doing well all over the world, but nowhere is it doing any better than in India. Prime Video today is the most loved service in India and I think our partners and our partner content will also benefit from it.

OTT aggregation has become important in India due to proliferation of platforms?

We feel that the time is right for us to create a unified, simplified experience for our customers, and that's exactly what Prime Video Channels aims to do.

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