Amazon Prime Video launched in India3 min read . Updated: 15 Dec 2016, 03:50 AM IST
Amazon Prime Video's unlimited ad-free, on-demand service comes for an annual subscription of Rs499
New Delhi: Amazon Prime Video is finally in India, nearly a year after its larger American rival Netflix started streaming movies, television content and documentaries in the country.
For those who haven’t signed up in the last year, the delay seems the worth the wait: Amazon Prime Video’s unlimited ad-free, on-demand service comes for an annual subscription of Rs499—which works out to Rs41.50 a month—against Netflix’s Rs500 fee for a single month. Also, those who already have an Amazon Prime subscription now get video streaming as well, for no extra charges.
After tying up with film makers and film studios since September, Amazon Prime’s video content portfolio is led by Bollywood movies, a popular content category in India. It has 2016’s top Indian and Hollywood blockbusters including Salman Khan starrer Sultan, Tamil superstar Rajnikanth’s Kabali and Hollywood money spinner Batman vs Superman – Dawn of Justice. Its international shows include Mr. Robot, The Night Manager, Lethal Weapon, The Good Wife and Two and a Half Men. In addition, the Seattle-based e-commerce firm said it has started production of new Indian Amazon Original Series with Ram Madhwani, Prasoon Joshi and comedy collective All India Bakchod (AIB), among others.
“India has one of the richest and most vibrant entertainment industries in the world—Amazon is energized by the talent and the passion of India’s film industry and is excited to be making multiple Indian original shows already, with more to come," said Roy Price, vice-president and head of Amazon Studios. “It’s no secret that Amazon is making a big investment in India and is happy to take original content, created by Indian talent, to audiences worldwide. We are also making a commitment to our Indian customers to deliver high-quality, binge-worthy shows that they’ll love to watch."
In late July, Amazon India launched its global Prime membership programme, offering one-day and two-day delivery on thousands of products for a fixed Rs499 a year initially.
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“We are thrilled to unveil Prime Video in India—with the largest selection of ad-free, exclusive new release Indian and Hollywood movies and US TV shows and award-winning Amazon Original Series, Prime Video is an awesome service for anyone who loves movies and TV shows; and we’re just getting started," said Nitesh Kripalani, director and country head, Amazon Video India. “Prime members can enjoy reliable, high-quality playback of some of the best shows and movies available including brand new Amazon Original Series with top Indian stars and filmmakers over the next year. This is on top of the benefits Prime members already know and love—unlimited free one-day and two-day delivery on India’s largest selection of products."
Besides Netflix, India has online streaming platforms like Hooq (starting at Rs199 per month) which is popular among movie buffs and Ogle (Rs249 per month). The market leader in India’s nascent video streaming business is clearly Hotstar, Star India’s digital platform. According to online aggregator App Annie, Hotstar clocked 7,886 million minutes of viewership in November compared to 633 million minutes by Netflix in India.
Commenting on Amazon Prime Video’s India entry, Ajit Mohan, chief executive at Hotstar said, “Like Netflix, Amazon is a great company with a great pedigree. As the leader in a category, we have created and nurtured in the last two years; we are delighted with the interest in India that has followed the launch of Hotstar."
He added that consumers will choose streaming platforms with the best content and the best video experience. “And, on both, we are planning to retain all that has made us the leader."
Netflix hasn’t made much of an impact in India in the last one year. Its only big achievement so far has been the announcement of its first original series in the country based on novelist Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games. The company has partnered with Phantom Films, a film studio founded by Anurag Kashyap, Madhu Mantena, Vikramaditya Motwane and Vikas Bahl to produce the series.
Mohan said the Indian market is unique in many ways and international brands are possibly grappling with a late-mover disadvantage in a market with an early (and strong) competitor. “A Barclays equity analyst recently articulated it best: “Hotstar is almost the ideal aspiration end state for OTT (over the top) platforms in the US, with premium sports, TV shows, movies and originals all on one platform," he added.