Amazon Prime Video to focus on content in regional languages
Amazon Prime Video India will roll out a bouquet of regional originals as it looks to cater to a diverse set of audiences who are already being courted by a clutch of other over-the-top (OTT) players. Prime Video, which is currently developing Tamil and Telugu originals, is “hopeful” that regional originals will start appearing during the later half of 2021, according to Vijay Subramaniam, director and head of content.
Prime Video that has an Indian library comprising nine regional languages (including Hindi) is also experimenting with a couple of more local languages, Subramaniam said. “You can expect us to continue to explore originals in multiple languages,” Subramaniam told FE in an interview.
Prime Video that rides on the benefits of the Prime package, a subscription programme offered by parent Amazon to broaden its e-commerce play, has already made inroads to 4,000 cities and towns in India.
“Clearly, you can see us going deeper and deeper to serve Indian customers as best as we can. We are deeply involved and engaged in multiple languages and our content preferences in those languages because that’s what makes India and Indian entertainment. I think the brand Amazon Prime Video truly represents Indian entertainment,” Subramaniam said.
Prime Video will release 10-12 Indian originals in calendar year 2020. One series, The Forgotten Army-Azaadi Ke Liye has been launched in January. The OTT player has plans to introduce a similar number of originals in the next two years, the director and head of content said.
Last month, Amazon founder & CEO Jeff Bezos, who was on a visit to India, said Prime Video will double down on its investments in the country. The e-commerce major that claims to have 150 million paid Prime members globally counts India as a key market.
Subramaniam said bulk of the investment will be made in improving the product and user experience for customers as well as in content and marketing. “We are super invested in India for the long-term,” said Subramaniam.
Prime Video competes with Netflix and local players like Hotstar, Zee5, AltBalaji and SonyLIV in India. New entrant Apple TV+ is also in the fray although its content offering is minimal at present. India with its growing young population that has a knack for consuming appetizing content, a deluge of smartphones and affordable internet connectivity is the go-to market for companies. As many as 550 million customers are estimated to take to online video viewing by FY23, according to a recent KPMG-Eros Now report.
Netflix has earmarked a whopping Rs 3,000 crore for content spend in India in the two years ending 2020, CEO Reed Hastings said in December 2019. Netflix, whose India monthly subscription price starts at Rs 499 compared to Amazon’s Rs 129 monthly pack (and Rs 999 annually), has also launched a cheaper mobile-only pack to take on its competitors.
While Hotstar has sports to draw audience, players like Zee5 have introduced sachet pricing to make the deal more palatable for price-sensitive local customers.
“We will keep reviewing all our strategies, including pricing, but as of now, we have no new options to discuss,” Subramaniam said.