When Amazon launched its Prime subscription service in India in the last days of July, all it would let on about its video offering was that it was on the way. A lot more is now known about the streaming platform, with the launch supposed to be planned for Diwali – though the latest rumour is that it will happen on November 9 – so we decided to piece together everything that we know about Prime Video in India.
A focus on local content aggregation
In the past month or so, Amazon India has officially confirmed tie-ups with the likes of Dharma Productions – owned by director and producer Karan Johar – T-Series, as well as Arka Mediaworks’ SS Rajamouli.
With Dharma Productions, Prime Video will offer not only the production house’s back catalogue, but also upcoming films such as Johar-directed Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, the remake of Mani Ratnam’s OK Kanmani, titled OK Jaanu and Badrinath Ki Dulhania, with Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan. The deal with T-Series is different, as it only deals with upcoming releases such as Tum Bin 2 by Anubhav Sinha, Raabta with Sushant Singh Rajput, Noor starring Sonakshi Sinha, and Simran starring Kangana Ranaut.
What’s interesting is that Amazon Video India head Nitesh Kripalani noted that these films would be available to Prime subscribers “within a few weeks of their theatrical release”, beating TV premieres as well as beating home media such as Blu-ray and DVD to the punch.
With director SS Rajamouli, known for his work in the Telugu cinema world, Amazon is moving forward with an animated series based on his 2015 film Baahubali, which garnered Rs. 6.5 billion worldwide. It will be called Baahubali: The Lost Legends, and Amazon has sent a statement confirming that it “will premiere first” on Prime Video in India sometime next year, which points to it not being an exclusive.
As for an original show, Amazon has likely partnered with Farhan Akhtar co-owned Excel Entertainment, if reports are to be believed. It will be called Power Play, and will focus on the worlds of cricket and show business. Unlike the other three deals, there is no official confirmation on this one.
Global (and sports) content, plus a leg up on pricing
As it stands, Netflix’s original content offerings are not only more in number, but also more renowned - the number of Emmy nominations the Originals garner each year is proof of that. But the advantage for Amazon – especially in a price-sensitive market such as India – could be just that: the pricing. Where Netflix asks for Rs. 500 (SD), Rs. 650 (HD) and Rs. 800 (4K + HDR) in India per month, Amazon Prime – with video and all the shopping benefits – will be available at Rs. 999 per year, after its introductory offer of Rs. 499 ends. It's unclear as to whether Prime Video would be bundled into this, but that’s certainly likely, given that is the case in the US.
Even if that price were to go up by 150 percent after the Prime Video launch, it’d be tough to see either Netflix (or local rivals such as Hotstar, which charges Rs. 199 per month) compete in that regard. It is possible - though unlikely based on what we’ve seen in other markets - that Amazon will make Prime Video a separate offering, pricing it similarly to other players. Even then, Amazon’s global roster of content is only on the rise, from the likes of award-winning Transparent, and Mozart in the Jungle, with strong additions coming in the form of upcoming car show The Grand Tour, from the ex-hosts of Top Gear.
Amazon is also looking to bid for sports rights around the world, though it’s running headlong into long-term expensive contracts already owned by others. That’s going to happen in India too, with the likes of Star (behind Hotstar) and Sony expected to fight tooth and nail for prestigious competitions such as Premier League in football and Indian Premier League in cricket. For what it’s worth, Amazon is already in the running for latter according to reports. Netflix has kept away from live content, stating its emphasis on the on-demand philosophy.
Enough about the content. How would you use it?
As with the best of competitors, Prime Video is accessible from all the devices you can think of: be it your phone or tablet (Android or iOS), laptop, desktop, smart TV, and even game consoles. The one downside is that since Amazon makes a rival Chromecast product in Fire TV Stick, the video streaming platform doesn’t support Google’s Cast function. And it doesn’t help that Amazon doesn’t sell any of its Fire lineup of products in India just yet, though hopefully that will almost certainly change with the launch of Prime Video.
Even though Amazon India is beating the drum on its licensing deals, there’s been no word from the company on when the service is going to be available. We reached out to Amazon but they have declined to comment further on the launch of Prime Video in India.
Are you looking forward to Amazon Prime Video in India? Sound off in the comments below or tweet to us @Gadgets360 with #PrimeVideo.