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NEW DELHI : American video streaming service Amazon Prime Video is looking to serve one Indian original per month to customers in 2020. Armed with a slate of 10-12 titles, the year kick-starts with The Forgotten Army-Azaadi Ke Liye, a story of soldiers from the Indian National Army directed by Kabir Khan that is scheduled for release on 24 January.

“This kicks off a pretty ambitious year for us. I think our portfolio is looking quite interesting and hopefully we will serve customers well. In 2020, we hope to have anything between 10-12 originals including a lot of new shows as well as a few returning seasons of extremely popular shows," said Vijay Subramaniam, director and head, content, Amazon Prime Video India. In 2019, Subramaniam added, the platform hosted the first returning seasons of Indian originals, such as Inside Edge 2 and Comicstaan 2, something it is trying for more of, this time. This year will see the second seasons of thriller drama Breathe starring Abhishek Bachchan and crime drama Mirzapur besides the third season of Comicstaan.

The other big aim is establish a robust line-up of big-ticket Hindi films that can arrive on the platform soon after theatrical release. Besides deepening engagement with popular languages like Telugu and Tamil, Amazon is looking at ramping up content in Malayalam, Punjabi and Marathi, all these three languages having been added to the service in 2019.

To be sure, the American service had announced plans to ramp up its regional film and original slate as a response to customer feedback and the unique nature of the Indian market, more than a year ago. The Hindi user interface was soon followed by the introduction of Tamil and Telugu interfaces.

“Localization is imperative today if you want to make a mark and have aspirations beyond niche markets in India," Jehil Thakkar, partner at management consulting firm Deloitte India had said in an earlier interview to Mint adding that regional interests have strengthened as advertisers have started to spend more on reaching out to regional audiences, be it in the print or broadcasst medium.

Comedy will continue to be a big area of focus for Amazon as Subramaniam says the service has seen great success with shows like Comicstaan and One Mic Stand.

“What we have understood and learnt from our customers is the right balance of frequency, size and scale, and 2020 will be all about that. We will continue to learn, we are nowhere near being experts at this because tastes and preferences of our customers evolve," Subramaniam said. “What we also continue to improve on is the overall customer experience, whether it’s the user interface, the languages, and the value added features."

The platform, Subramaniam said, is looking for a variety of stories, but has narrowed its pitches to a few genres.

“We want to provide multiple seasons of a story because we believe when customers engage with a piece of content, they start owning it, then they want more of it. We don’t do self-contained short episodic stories with a beginning, middle and end, we prefer them to be serialized because it allows for a habit, for viewers to lean in and enjoy more of the characters. All said and done, we believe we are building a streaming habit in the country and it is important to engage customers continuously," Subramaniam said adding that they have also stayed away from biopics because they tend to be restrictive.

Unlike Amazon, rival streaming platform Netflix has continued to invest in original feature films like Chopsticks and Love Per Square Foot and short story formats like Lust Stories and Ghost Stories.

Subramaniam declined to comment on the platform’s investment plans for India this year.

“We remain true and committed to what we need to do here. Our ambitions and excitement remain the same, as do our investments," he said.

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