Amazon on Thursday unveiled a slate of 41 original and co-produced shows and movies in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu languages and launched its movie rental service in India as it looks to win and retain more users in one of the world’s largest entertainment markets.
The Transactional Video-On-Demand (TVOD) Movie Rental service will allow customers to get early access to new Indian and foreign movies, the company executives said at an event, which also featured Indian producer Karan Johar, who previously engaged closely with Netflix in India. The rental service is going live in India today for both Prime members and non-Prime members and based on a quick glance, charging between $1.30 to $6.50 to rent a movie.
“India is among Prime Video’s most strategic markets, and the launch of a new movie rental and TVOD service is testament to that,” the company said.
At an event in Mumbai, the company executives said Prime Video will double down the size of its investment in India in the next five years and is exploring differentiated services for the country, where the on-demand video streaming service is available in nearly a dozen languages. They did not disclose how much the firm has invested in the entertainment business in India. They said India accounted for the highest number of new customers streaming Prime VIdeo last year.
Amazon, which has invested over $6.5 billion in its India operations, launched Prime Video in the country — alongside over 100 other nations and territories — in late 2016. Over the years, the company has produced several localized titles focused on cricket, comedy and dark drama to court customers in the country and also aggressively experimented with pricing.
Prime Video — which is available for as low as $1.2 a month in India (there’s also a free, ad-supported app) — has also acquired rights for streaming some cricket matches. Company executives said today they are confident that their bet on live streaming cricket will pay off multiple fold in the future.
Amazon competes with several players in India including Disney+ Hotstar, MX Player and Netflix.
The e-commerce group also said it has partnered with Bollywood studios Dharma Productions, Excel Entertainment and Yash Raj Films as well as Ajay Devgn FFilms to license 17 movies including Runway 34, Fukrey 3 and Tiger 3. Some of these studios have previously engaged closely with Netflix to release their earlier movies.
“In the last five years, we have built a strong slate of locally produced content across languages, super-serving the diverse entertainment needs of Indian customers. With increased access and distribution, we have helped these great stories travel far and wide in India, and around the world,” said Gaurav Gandhi, country head at Amazon Prime Video India.
“We have played a key role in helping expand the linguistic palette of Indian customers, thereby, increasing the audience base for creators and talent. Prime Video India today sees viewership from 99% of the country’s pin codes. India continues to be one of Prime Video’s fastest-growing and most engaged locale globally. We are humbled by the love we have received from our consumers and continue to be deeply committed to delighting our customers with great content, while also fueling the creative economy.”
The company’s new slate of titles features stars including Amol Palekar, Madhuri Dixit, Shahid Kapoor, Vijay Sethupathi, Kay Kay Menon, many of whom are doing a web series for the first time. The new titles include the Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad chapters of “Modern Love,” “Bambai Meri Jaan,” “Call Me Bae,” “Happy Family Conditions Apply,” “Hush Hush,” as well as new seasons of the ongoing popular titles “Mirzapur,” “Family Man,” “Panchayat,” “Paatal Lok” and “Comicstaan.”
“Our mission has been to tell compelling, authentic and rooted stories that not just connect with audiences in India but resonate with audiences across the world,” said Aparna Purohit, head of India originals at Amazon Prime Video.
“We feel humbled that the characters of our shows and films have inspired new archetypes, blazed a new trail, and in fact, become a part of the cultural zeitgeist. As we move forward, we are excited to partner with some of the most prolific creators to bring forth powerful stories across different formats, genres and languages for our customers. We are confident that our upcoming slate of shows and films will transcend all barriers of language, nationality or formats.”