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New Delhi: American streaming service Amazon Prime Video is looking at creating a diverse slate of distinctly Indian content to woo audiences in the country. The over-the-top video streaming platform that launched in India in December 2016 plans to ramp up its regional film and original slate as a response to customer feedback and the unique nature of Indian market.

“The engagement we see with Hindi content on Prime in India is one of the highest we see across countries," said Tim Leslie, vice-president, Amazon Prime Video International, during a visit to Mumbai. “What we’ve learnt, not surprisingly, is that customers want a broad range of compelling content. India is a more diverse market than any other country and that is why we’re providing a big selection of languages and a broad range of content from not just Hollywood and Bollywood but regional languages too, which we will continue to add to. The big investment, going forward, will be in creating world-class Indian originals, stories that haven’t been seen before."

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Leslie said Amazon Prime Video’s India originals so far—sports drama Inside Edge, mystery thriller Breathe and music reality show The Remix—have done exceedingly well and paved the way for its crime thriller Mirzapur that starts streaming on Friday. The plan is to double the number of originals next year including the second season of Inside Edge.

“We will also invest in regional content, we’ve already added Kannada to the service in addition to Bengali, Marathi and Hindi, and we’re making investments in the product to make it more local," Leslie said. Amazon’s Telugu web series GangStars will be followed by a Tamil original soon. The Hindi user interface launched earlier this week will be followed by Tamil and Telugu interfaces soon. Moreover, a major selection of Amazon Prime Video’s content is now available with Hindi show descriptions and Hindi dubbing and subtitles.

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Without disclosing names, Leslie said the company is constantly in talks with Indian production houses and studios to license content and create originals together. Industry experts say Amazon’s content creation strategies are an added incentive to its broader e-commerce and payments business. Video-on-demand is just another hook, they have aspirations beyond that unlike streaming rival Netflix that is purely a content player.

“Localization is an imperative today if you want to make a mark and have aspirations beyond niche markets in India," said Jehil Thakkar, partner at management consulting firm Deloitte India. Thakkar added that regional interests have strengthened as advertisers have started to spend more on reaching out to regional audiences, be it in the print or broadcast medium. According to the FICCI-EY media and entertainment industry report 2018, growth in India’s Internet user base till 2021 will be driven by rural consumers who are expected to grow from 38% to 52%. This will have a significant impact on the type and language of content that will need to be developed, as well as changes to marketing, distribution and pricing strategies.

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“There’s no other service that provides the benefits Amazon provides at the value that it does so. India is a unique country in terms of demography, infrastructure growth and the young population steadily moving online for entertainment. It’s a huge opportunity but it also means we have to work extra hard to create good content and come up with the right distribution practices," said Leslie about the service that is currently available as part of plans with telecommunication services like Airtel and Vodafone.

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