“India has been a fantastic market for Amazon retail as well as Amazon Prime, and Prime Video is a huge piece of that," said Jay Marine, vice-president, Amazon Prime Video, Europe on visit to Mumbai, his first to the country adding that over the last two years, in the Indian market, Amazon has seen viewing hours increase 10 times.
“What that dramatic growth is telling you is that more customers are watching and customers are watching more. India is one of our fastest growing Prime markets. At Amazon, when we see something working, we give it more encouragement and we are going to continue to invest in terms of India originals, as well as the marketing investment on the side of that," Marine said.
Gaurav Gandhi, director and head, business, Amazon Prime Video India added that the introduction of programming in nine Indian languages shows Amazon’s commitment to the belief that the customer is not one. The service currently offers content in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi and Gujarati and user interface in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.
Third, the service has focused aggressively on areas it believes customers engage with—through a combination of originals that are produced with world-class cinematic quality but are essentially Indian stories such as Mirzapur, Made In Heaven and the upcoming Manoj Bajpayee-starrer The Family Man. Amazon currently has about 30 shows in various stages of development including the second season of Inside Edge, and a war drama titled The Forgotten Army directed by Kabir Khan.
These have been combined with a generous supply of global originals like Jack Ryan and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel but more importantly, mainstream Indian feature films.
“There are about 1.3 billion people in India and some 9,000 movie screens. There is an issue of supply and we’ve used the opportunity to see how movies can get to people quickly after theatrical release, and not just in Hindi but all languages. Add to that untapped spaces like comedy (with shows like Comicstaan) and, and we’ve got what our customer wanted," Gandhi added.
The strategy, quite clearly, Marine and Gandhi said, is to go both wide and deep. Amazon content is currently watched in about 4,000 Indian towns and cities. Indian originals are, incidentally, also grabbing eyeballs overseas. One in three people who watched shows like Breathe and Mirzapur, came from outside India. But while the service doesn’t disclose investment or revenue figures for any country, it is looking to cater to all of India for the long-term and is not eyeing profits in the near future. All streaming services in India are currently clear about the fact that they are in investment mode in the country and will continue to see the entry of newer players. Apple TV+ has just announced a November launch at Rs. 99 for India while Walt Disney will also route content from its new service Disney+ through Hotstar to the country.
“At Amazon, we are always willing to take a long-term horizon. When we see something resonating with customers, we get really excited and that is the case in India," Marine said.
“It is important to remember that the video market is a large one, in which there will be multiple winners. We’ve had many competitors in every large market we have been in, that doesn’t impact us because we are a consumer-focused company. And we know that works," Marine said.