New Delhi: Roy Price, vice-president of Amazon Studios, a unit of e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. that recently won three Academy Awards, was in Mumbai on Tuesday to announce Amazon Prime Video’s latest original content partnership with director Kabir Khan. Based on Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army, the new series, tentatively titled The Forgotten Army is the 18th Amazon India original show to go on the floors.
During this third visit to India in a year, Price, who oversees all development and production of original film and television properties for Amazon, met several filmmakers and producers.
“We have had positive and productive conversations with film studios and producers in India. We have been moving forward with a variety of deals many of which have been announced,” said Price on the phone from Mumbai. He talked about the significance of original content to the India strategy,streaming wars and viewership growth in India. Edited excerpts:
What makes original content so integral to Amazon Prime Video’s India strategy?
Our goal is to get and create compelling content for our customers whether its licensed or originals. So originals is important, it’s a differentiator, it also helps build our brand. And obviously the team globally has led the charge in that way. We have won over a 100 awards for our originals in the US. We recently won three Academy awards (for Manchester by the Sea and The Salesman) and that’s testimony to our vision that great original content is not just popular with customers but also works as a differentiator.
You can have a global service but all customers are local. From a content point of view, we really have what we call a multi-local strategy. To make Prime Video India really speak to Indians we want to develop Indian shows with Indian artistes telling Indian stories that may have a universal sensibility. So our real job is to find those really great ambitious artistes and empower them and today was a great example of that.
I think India is a huge and important country and there is a strong appetite here for Indian content. So, according to the multi-local strategy, we are focusing a lot of attention on Indian originals.
How do you respond to Amazon Prime Video’s viewership growth in India so far?
We think it’s a very strong start. I think customers are happy with what they are seeing on the service. There are a lot of titles that are doing well including Top Gear and Sultan and a mix of different kinds of things. We are always learning from what customers are enjoying and so we will continuously be looking at that to think about whether we have the exact right mix or should we invest more in a particular area and less towards some other. Its all determined by customer reactions.
What’s your favourite title from Amazon’s India content library?
Sultan and Bajirao Mastaani. I showed it to many people in LA and they enjoyed that.
What’s your take on streaming wars in India?
Wherever we operate in the world there are a lot of platforms that exist and I think the best thing to do is to really focus on customers and their wants and then focus on the talented filmmakers and creators and their wants and if you can satisfy both those groups then you’ll be just fine.
How has the India journey been so far?
Well, it is early; we have only been here a few months but we also discuss it a lot (globally). It is an important area of focus. I think the only two countries that I have been to three times over the past year is India and the UK. That’s not the only metric but it is very important and we are growing the team and it’s an important effort from Amazon.