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Amazon gets an edge with MGM content

For Amazon, at least for now the Indian market is poised to work well with theatrical exhibition, especially with dubbed Hollywood fare commanding huge audience share with exhaustive marketing campaigns in place. (REUTERS)Premium
For Amazon, at least for now the Indian market is poised to work well with theatrical exhibition, especially with dubbed Hollywood fare commanding huge audience share with exhaustive marketing campaigns in place. (REUTERS)

  • The real financial value behind the Amazon-MGM deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalogue that Amazon plans to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s team, according to Mike Hopkins, senior vice-president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios

NEW DELHI : Wednesday’s merger of Amazon and Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) Studios could result in the former gaining a substantial edge in terms of content library for its OTT (over-the-top) streaming platform, Amazon Prime Video, as it competes with other video-on-demand services for eyeballs.

“The acquisition is more for increasing content depth of a (streaming) platform, than to impact cinema business," Karan Taurani, research analyst at Elara Capital Ltd said, citing the example of Walt Disney that had pulled its movie titles off Netflix when it launched its own OTT service Disney+, besides producing web shows and originals and adding to the slate of IP (intellectual property).

Some select films may premier directly on OTT, but Taurani pointed out at least the Indian market is poised to work well with theatrical exhibition for now, especially with dubbed Hollywood fare commanding huge audience share with exhaustive marketing campaigns in place as part of which popular Bollywood actors are often roped in to voice for Hollywood stars.

“The likelihood of a simultaneous online and theatrical release of a Hollywood film in India through a pay-per-view format is low as piracy is a big threat and Indian audiences are quite willing to pay for the overall experience of watching a film on the big screen as part of family outings," Taurani added.

To be sure, Amazon seems ready to take MGM content to wider audiences. “The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalogue that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s team. It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling," Mike Hopkins, senior vice-president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios said in a statement.

The India team of Amazon Prime Video declined to comment on whether the MGM slate could help drive more subscribers or give it an edge in the country.

The MGM library is coveted—with over 4,000 film titles, including 12 Angry Men, Basic Instinct, Creed, James Bond, Legally Blonde, Raging Bull, Robocop and Rocky, and 17,000 TV shows, including The Handmaid’s Tale, Fargo, and Vikings. Its upcoming slate includes movies such as House of Gucci, No Time to Die, Respect, The Addams Family 2, and an untitled Paul Thomas Anderson film.

Earlier this month, AT&T Inc. and Discovery, Inc. announced a definitive agreement to combine WarnerMedia’s entertainment, sports and news assets with Discovery's non-fiction and international entertainment and sports businesses to create a standalone global entertainment company.

A statement from the companies said the transaction will create substantial value for AT&T and Discovery shareholders by “accelerating both companies’" plans for leading direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming services for global consumers.

Although no detail was given on their India plans, media experts said the combined entity could be a powerful competitor in the Indian web streaming segment, challenging the might of incumbents such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar, if it invests enough in local content.

Among streaming services, Disney+ Hotstar is the leader in India with 34 million subscribers (including Indonesia), Amazon at 17 million and Netflix at 4.6 million. Netflix declined to comment on the Amazon and MGM deal and whether this would add to competition with the Jeff Bezos-owned service. Disney+Hotstar declined comment on competition.

“Mergers and acquisitions are the only way to go in the media and entertainment space globally, including in a fragmented market such as India which is heading towards a future where the OTT space will see a few strong brands emerge," said a media analyst declining to be named.

The person pointed to the 2019 alliance between ZEE5 and ALTBalaji, both looking to leverage each other’s strengths in the OTT domain and collaborating to co-create original content, which is available on both their platforms.

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