MUMBAI: After facing protests over his e-commerce platform, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos was primed to break some good news on Thursday — the company video streaming platform, he told Bollywood, is doing better in India than anywhere else in the world.
It’s not as if Bezos was ducking the controversy. Flying in from Delhi, the 56 – year-old headed to a small kirana store in Mumbai to see for himself how the brick-and-mortar business works in India.
Small neighborhood shops are up in arms against Amazon, but Bezos had an entirely different story to tell on Thursday.
“Nowhere in the world is Prime Video doing better than in India and we are planning to double down on our investments here,” Bezos told the large Bollywood community that is added churning out new stories on his video streaming platform.
“The service is working great in India. In the last two years, our watch hours have grown six times, “Bezos said in conversation with Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan and filmmaker Zoya Akhtar.
Bezos would have known that both Khan and Akhtar have worked closely with Prime Video’s rival Netflix. Khan has a long-term deal with Netflix for the acquisition rights to his films and produced shows like Bard of Blood, while Akhtar has directed Lust Stories and Ghost Stories for the rival platform.
“We want to be known as the most talent-friendly studio in the world because it is talent that makes stories,” Bezos said.
Amazon, which has bought Indian originals so far, unveiled seven more titles— Dilli, Bandish Bandits, Paatal Lok, Gormint, Mumbai Diaries – 728 / 11, The Last Hour and Sons of Soil- Jaipur Pink Panthers — at the event that began two hours late as the media waited outside.
In India, the Amazon strategy is clear — it is putting huge amounts of money into building a content-rich library dominated by big-ticket Bollywood titles. For some of them, the company is said to have shelled out as much as₹56 crore. High-profile Indian films such as War, Gully Boy, Padmaavat and Bharat reflect the company commitment to go big, primarily through long-term deals with industry bigwigs such as Dharma Productions, Yash Raj Films and Salman Khan.
The service, which is targeting mass, pan-Indian audiences, offers content in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi and Gujarati.
The massy content contrasts with Netflix’s niche, edgy moves. Additionally, subscription to Amazon Prime comes with a bundle of benefits such as free shipping, access to Amazon’s music streaming library and a growing collection of original TV shows and movies for an annual charge of₹01575879. Netflix’s basic plan starts at₹999 a month though it launched a mobile-only option at₹199 a month last year.
Bezos reiterated at the Mumbai event something he has often said — that the company gets to monetize its subscription video in an unusual way: Amazon Prime members buy more other goods on Amazon than non-Prime members, driven by the idea that once they’ve paid their annual fee, they’ll get more value out of the program
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