Amazon Prime Video India‘s streaming service has had a record 2023 with 22 series and three feature films commissioned, the most since it launched in 2016, and a high level of consumer engagement.
India continues to top the charts when it comes to Prime member engagement with Prime Video, the service informs Variety. No other Prime territory has a higher percentage of Prime members watching Prime Video each month than India and Indian content trended in the top 10 on Prime Video worldwide for 47 of the last 52 weeks, securing 15% of the total top 10 slots.
Earlier this year, Sushant Sreeram, country director of Prime Video India, reiterated the streamer’s intention of doubling down on investments in the territory. That has manifested itself in the number of commissions, which are across genres and languages, and also in infrastructure.
“The opportunity, outside of content, of how do we drive accessibility and affordability, that’s where a lot of our work has actually gone in, especially over the last 18-24 months. And there’s more that you will see happening next year,” Sreeram told Variety.
In terms of access, Sreeram says, “The ubiquity of our device coverage becomes paramount. Without that, we’re really not going to be able to get the shows that people want to watch, to them.” The service is now available across smart TVs, mobile devices, streaming media players including Fire TV, Fire TV stick, Fire tablets, Apple TV and multiple gaming devices. “Today, we actually have incredibly high penetration of Prime Video across the total connected device landscape in the country,” Sreeram said.
Payment options have been expanded to include debit, credit, Indian instant payment system UPI (Unified Payments Interface), internet banking and Amazon Pay wallet. Prime Video is also available to consumers through telecom providers Airtel and Vodafone’s pre-paid and post-paid subscription plans. In a market where more than 60% of the audience watches content on mobile devices, Sreeram is also pleased with the success of the service’s Prime Video mobile edition.
Prime Video is also growing its audience through its a la carte service Channels, which launched in 2021 with eight networks and has now grown to 23, with BBC Player and BBC Kids and Anime Times being recent additions. “We will pioneer new ways of building products and propositions, looking at new partners that we’ll bring on board,” Sreeram said. “The important thing is not just to build a large world of a lot of partners, it is just as important that we continue to think of what are the pockets of entertainment that our own programming or our licensed programming doesn’t fully encapsulate and are there partners we think can come on and add on that. That’s a very important determinant in how we think about channels.”
Another recent success story for Prime Video India has been its TVOD service where customers from across the country have rental access to films from India and around the world. The 6,000-strong catalogue receives rental transactions from 95% of India’s post codes, with some 75% rented at least once every month.
India’s streaming market has annual revenues of $1.7 billion, with Disney+ Hotstar the current market leader commanding a 23% share, according to numbers from Media Partners Asia. Prime Video and JioCinema are close behind with 21% each, followed by Netflix with 18% and SonyLIV with 6%. Consolidation is on its way with a Sony-Zee merger in the works and, reportedly, Disney+ Hotstar and Jio.
“I’m usually not prone to foretelling the future, because the future has a funny way of becoming the present very soon. But if I was a betting man, I would say that the one that will be standing very well, at the end is gonna be the customer,” Sreeram said. “This is not built on some optimistic vision of the future, but actually just a track record of what the industry and what the category has gone through in the last five years.”
The Prime Video service has long had a strategy of going deep into India, beyond the metros and towns, and that will be the key going forward as well, Sreeram said. “The range and the variety of options and opportunities and business models that are actually being explored by going deep and services that are really committed to going deep, there is a goldmine at the bottom of that where it requires commitment, an acknowledgement of just the sheer fact that there is an incredible heterogeneity in the country,” Sreeram said.
“Indian storytelling is having a moment right now and I can see that continuing. We are absolutely committed to making sure that we continue to go deep,” Sreeram added. “It’s like we say at Amazon, ‘it’s always day one.’ We’re just getting started. Irrespective of what might happen, we don’t obsess over competition. Out of all of [..] the customer is going to continue to be spoilt for choice.”