India has a strong preference for local content: Amazon Video’s Tim Leslie
New Delhi: Tim Leslie, vice president of Amazon Video, International, was in Mumbai on Wednesday to announce the India launch of Amazon Prime Video, the e-commerce firm’s online streaming platform as well as its expansion in over 200 markets across the world.
Leslie has been responsible for the expansion of Prime Video outside the US, in the UK, Germany as well as Japan. In an interview over the phone from Mumbai, Leslie spoke about the company’s content strategy, audience preferences and challenges before the largest e-commerce retailer in the world. Edited excerpts:
How has the response to Amazon Prime Video been in other international markets?
We started adding Amazon Prime Video in 2011, first in the US. We continue to make Prime Video better every year adding more compelling movies, TV shows and lots of original content. And in all of the countries where we are present—US, UK, Germany, Japan—customers love it, they love watching movies and TV shows that they can only find on Amazon Prime Video and they’re Prime customers, they shop more and enjoy the other benefits of Prime as well.
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How much are you investing towards content in India?
We are making a big investment in India overall as a company and Prime Video is an important part of that investment. We are going to invest a lot in Prime Video to provide our Indian customers compelling content .
Globally, what are audiences watching on your platform?
Our most streamed show until recently on Prime Video was The Man in the High Castle (an Amazon Original). That was recently overtaken by The Grand Tour which is now the most streamed show on Prime Video. It also has a fantastic 9.4 rating on IMDb with 20,000 ratings. We are now making that available to customers globally including in India. We also have other award winning shows that customers have loved both Mozart in the Jungle and Transparent are popular.
We also have been licensing shows like Mr Robot, Fear the Walking Dead and Preacher. Those are licensed content that can only be found on Amazon Prime Video.
Do you believe Amazon has a late mover disadvantage in India ?
Our confidence lies in the fact that we listen to what our customers want to watch. And that’s what we provide to them.
We think that Prime Video is something consumers are going to want to watch because it’s a web service they have. And what is even more compelling is that for Rs499 a year, which means they are going to watch for Rs41 a month, it’s an incredibly compelling offer, the best deal in video streaming and the best deal in shopping in India. And we are going to continue to make it better.
What is Amazon’s global strategy for content for Prime Video?
We looked for shows that are ambitious, great stories, in particular with our originals. We are looking for great storytellers, people who create distinctive stories that push the envelope on creativity.
Typically what is the break-up between American and tailor-made content on Prime Video?
We look at what customers want to watch in the particular country where we have launched...so that varies by country. In India, there is a strong preference for local content, whether it’s Bollywood or regional content. But Indian customers also love blockbuster movies and TV and enjoy our US originals as well. But we will have more Indian content than US content here.
What is the biggest challenge you face as you undergo this international expansion?
We’re just getting started so today is definitely day one in our international launch. Launching in 242 countries is something we are very excited about but we want to continue to innovate. There’s lots of innovation that we are going to add to our products. In the future, we need to add more languages—we have French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese dubbing in all of our originals and many other titles. But we need to have more languages and better coverage. We want to provide more ways to watch, offer more devices beyond Android ,iPhone, iPad, Samsung and LG TV and we, most importantly, want to create more license-bought compelling content globally.