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NEW DELHI : Amazon Prime Video has become a content aggregator in India with the launch of Prime Video Channels that will make eight other subscription-driven video-on-demand platforms available on its app and website.

Prime Video customers will be able to access streaming services such as Discovery+, Lionsgate Play, Docubay, Eros Now, MUBI, Hoichoi, Manorama Max, and Shorts TV with add-on subscriptions, paying for the services they choose. There will be a single billing mechanism.

Other over-the-top, or OTT, brands are likely to be added to the list soon.

The offering goes live on Friday. India is the 12th country to host Prime Video Channels after the US, Japan, the UK, and others.

“Our journey in India over the past four-and-a-half years has taught us that customers here are hungry for content, and while we’re serving our own range of exclusive originals and movies, they may be demanding programming that goes beyond those. Acting as a marketplace for entertainment is the next step for us," said Gaurav Gandhi, country manager, Amazon Prime Video, India.

Gandhi said the platform does not see the move as enabling easy access to competitors because these are early days in the streaming world.

While the OTT partners get Amazon’s reach and distribution, the US company also takes care of all the back-end and technical responsibilities, Gandhi added. The channels tag will be available as a separate category on the Prime Video service.

With these eight partners on board, the Amazon platform will be home to over 10,000 titles, said Chaitanya Divan, head, Prime Video Channels, Amazon Prime Video.

Six of the eight Indian platforms that have partnered with Amazon have come on board for a multi-territory deal and will also be available in other markets as part of Prime Video Channels.

“The focus is on delivering high selection and convenience," Divan said, pointing out that often customers have to jump from one app to the other to watch specific titles.

Managing several apps leads to issues such as having to re-enter account details, the app not working on a second device or users forgetting their passwords. With Prime Video Channels, all premium content subscriptions will be managed within a single destination, and customers will no longer have to juggle between multiple usernames, passwords and billing due dates, saving on data and the time spent deciding what to watch.

Further, the platforms are available for special introductory offers at launch, ranging between 25-50% discounts.

In India, OTT aggregators so far range from those provided by telco operators such as Airtel (Airtel XStream) and Reliance Jio (JioFiber, Jio TV Plus) or DTH platforms such as Tata Sky Binge.

A new streaming aggregator ScreenHits TV is also eyeing the Indian market and has formed a joint venture with Vial Content Tech, a company founded by former Sony TV India chief executive Kunal Dasgupta and Vivek Gupta.

India is home to over 60 OTT platforms. Video subscription revenue grew 50% in 2020 as premium content—originals and sports—went behind paywalls, particularly during the pandemic, according to the Ficci-EY media and entertainment report 2021.

“There is a long tail of OTT services in India that may not possess the marketing muscle. Larger players with scale can thus become gatekeepers for these services, allowing them to win new subscribers for a commission. This allows video aggregators to improve yields as well as retaining the customer in their wall garden," said Mihir Shah, vice-president, Media Partners Asia.

After advertisement-driven miniTV that it launched earlier this year, this is another way for Amazon to broaden its monetization streams, Shah added. This also helps it cater to video consumers across different income classes, he said. With the launch of Amazon Channels, Amazon now has a presence across all three video revenue segments — advertising video-on-demand, subscription video-on-demand, and transaction video-on-demand, or pay-per-view.

The aggregation that was primarily being carried out by telcos so far is the way ahead, for now, Karan Taurani, vice-president Elara Capital Ltd said. While it helps the bigger player act as a super-app and retain at least existing customers with value-added offerings, the smaller ones also manage eyeballs and recall.

“We want to act as an intermediary for the distribution of these partner platforms in a manner that is transparent," Gandhi said, adding that one way to keep viewers engaged is to keep serving them more content but give them control over what they choose.

The Indian OTT video market that is currently valued at $1.5 billion, is expected to touch $12.5 billion by 2030, according to a report by independent transaction advisory firm RBSA Advisors.

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