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Amazon scales up mainstream entertainment with ‘Comicstaan 2’

  • Barely a year old, the first season of Comicstaan is among the most watched shows for Prime Video in India
  • Since its launch in July 2018, more than 25% customers started watching comedy on the platform

New Delhi: With the return of its popular talent hunt show ‘Comicstaan’ this July, Amazon Prime Video continues to expand its comedy offerings which it believes make for one of the most watched genres on the platform. Barely a year old, the first season of Comicstaan is among the most watched shows for Prime Video in India. Since its launch in July 2018, more than 25% customers started watching comedy on the platform, Amazon said.

“One of the things being serviced in India, not necessarily through mainstream entertainment, was standup comedy, as it relates to young people. We were seeing open mics being full, we were seeing a lot of comedy clubs selling a lot of tickets, the online behaviour and the social media followings of comedians was significant, and we realized that it is definitely an important genre for us to tap into," said, Vijay Subramaniam, director and head, content, Amazon Prime Video India. After the positive feedback on stand-up specials like Kenny Sebastian’s ‘Don't be that guy’ and Zakir Khan’s ‘Haq se Single’, Amazon has released 23 new stand-up acts, like Rahul Subramaniam’s ‘Kal Main Udega’, and Sorabh Pant’s ‘Make India Great Again’.

Subramaniam added that the idea of Comicstaan was born while exploring ways to service both talent and format variety to comedy-seeking customers. “We were looking for the various other things we could do. And one such thing was- how do we create a pipeline of stand-up specials for ourselves? And why don’t we go and find the next big comic?"

Amazon said what differentiates its comedy in an over-congested comedy space in the country, is its ability to cater to a variety of themes, genres, and moods. The American streaming service is not looking to target a particular audience, the idea is to go deep and wide, and not just for comedy but content in general.

“Our goal is to reach and service customers across the length and the breadth of the country. We recognize that diversity is very important." Subramaniam said. “So you’ll get a psychological thriller drama like Breathe, and you will get a buddy drama like Four More Shots Please, because we know people’s tastes and preferences are different. And we also know that you will consume content depending on your mood."

In the past year, Amazon has seen successes in original content, like its crime thriller Mirzaapur and drama Made In Heaven, as well as movie acquisitions such as the Zoya Akhtar-directed musical Gully Boy. Its scale up on mainstream content has been supplemented with interfaces in Indian languages like Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali and Kannada. The move, the company had said, will bring in the next 100 million customers to Prime membership from India.

“Localization is an 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 conversation with Mint.

According to the FICCI-EY media and entertainment industry report 2019, Internet penetration and mobile subscriber growth in India over 2018 were both driven by rural areas. The need for localized, mainstream content arises when you want to penetrate these pockets.

Amazon’s goal remains simple-- to become the most preferred choice for daily entertainment. And with recent series like Mind the Malhotras and Comicstaan, it seems as though the shows are starting to focus on family-friendly plots. This is in contrast to the niche, often unconventional content like 'Leila' and 'Sacred Games' that rival Netflix focuses on.

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