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As Amazon Prime Video changes tack; will the marketplace model work for videos

From Store to Channels, Amazon Prime Video has adopted its international playbook in India

Up until March this year, Amazon.com has recorded 65.9 million unique visitors.
Up until March this year, Amazon.com has recorded 65.9 million unique visitors.

From movies on rent on ‘Store’ to platforms such as Lionsgate, Hoichoi, Mubi being available to viewers under ‘Channels’ Amazon Prime Video has come a long way from just being an over-the-top (OTT) platform to a content aggregation platform, thereby replicating its e-commerce model. “At Prime Video, our vision is to be the first-choice entertainment hub globally. While we continue to work on our original and exclusive productions, and offer a vast catalogue of Prime content, our video entertainment marketplace model allows us to super-serve our customers in India by expanding selection, choice and convenience significantly, giving them the option to enjoy an even wider array of content,” Gaurav Gandhi, country head, Amazon Prime Video India, told BrandWagon Online. 

Data of Amazon Prime Video Mobile App (Source: Comscore)

Data of Amazon Prime Video web (Source: Comscore)

For industry observers, the movie is in line with its international strategy, and is also allows to take on the battle against competitors. ‘Both Apple and Google follow the strategy of content aggregation and Amazon has joined the league in India. To be sure, the model is exactly what RokuTV follows,” Ajay Trigunayat, founder and director, AQT Network Private Limited, said. Currently the platform is home to 12 channel partners – AMC+, Acorn TV, hayu, discovery+, Lionsgate Play, Eros Now, Docubay, MUBI, hoichoi, Manorama Max, Shorts TV and Nammaflix, “We plan to launch many more by the end of the year,” Gandhi claimed. Likewise, through Store which allows its subscribers to purchase movies on rent it claims to provide early access to the latest Indian and international movies, in addition to titles beyond the ones available with Prime subscription. Since its launch in April this year, it claimed to have premiered some of the biggest and most anticipated movies in different languages including K.G.F: Chapter 2, Runway 34, Sarkaru Vaari Paat, among others. “We already have a significant line up of movies for Rentals for the rest of the year and we are very encouraged with the response we are getting from customers,” he added. 

Up until March this year, Amazon.com has recorded 65.9 million unique visitors. This is a mere 12% increase when compared to the same period, where it posted 58.8 million unique visitors, as per data released by Comscore – a media measurement and analytics company. Similarly on mobile app the total number of unique visitors just rose two percent to 48.5 million this March to 47.2 million, during the same period last year. Interestingly, total monthly minutes (MM) declined to 2,659, March this year from 4,678 during the same period, last year, on the web. What’s more the trend remained the same on the app. Industry experts opined that the trend clearly projects towards the fact that while there is no doubt that users are coming on to the platform, but they are now doing so to watch other channels. For Uday Sodhi, senior partner, Kurate Digital Consulting, every platform from YouTube to Airtel, MX Player, among others, is using their strength to build its business. “What this also means is that at a time when the number of subscribers may not be increasing drastically month-on-month, this move has definitely allowed Amazon Prime to earn more from the existing userbase,” he explained. 

Interestingly, Amazon Prime Video has an arrangement with Apple, for a 15% revenue-share deal, for the app being hosted on Apple Store. Google recently reduced service fee for all subscriptions on Play Store to 15%. It is believed that Amazon too has inked similar deals with OTT platforms listed on its platform. “Amazon Prime’s annual subscription has increased from Rs 999 to Rs 1,499. With India being a price sensitive market this can be a deterrent for many consumers to purchase the pack. Further, Amazon stayed away from bidding for the digital rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL), thereby also losing on a captive audience base,” a senior analyst said, on the condition of anonymity.  The platform nonetheless, has the digital telecast rights for the upcoming series between the India and New Zealand men’s cricket.

When enquired, about the impact of revenue, the company declined to comment, with Gandhi stating that the upcoming slate takes its commitment to Indian content even further as in the next 5 years. “We are investing more than double of what we have invested in the last five years into growing Prime Video India. Local (Indian) Amazon Originals have been a key pillar of growth for us, and the upcoming slate for the next 18-24 months (announced recently) includes a wide range of content across genres – from drama, comedy and family to horror and supernatural, and targets a diverse audience set,” he noted. 

Amazon Inc’s subscription revenue rose 26% to $31.8 billion for the full year of 2021. This includes annual and monthly subscription fees from Amazon Prime, as well as digital video, audiobook, digital music, ebooks and other subscription services (excluding AWS). 

Data of Amazon Prime Video Mobile Web (Source: Comscore)

Data of Amazon Prime Video Mobile App (Source: Comscore)

Back in India, the platform claims to be working towards enhancing the scope of unscripted programming to include biographies, true-crime and investigative docudramas. “In the last half a decade, we have steadily innovated in the way we offer movies to our consumers, from offering films in a post-theatrical early-window to almost 60 direct-to-service premieres during the pandemic, bringing the most anticipated movies to consumers’ living rooms and preferred devices,” he said. Amazon Prime Video recently announced new multi-year licensing deals with major studios such as Yash Raj Films, Dharma Productions, Excel Media and Entertainment, Ajay Devgn FFilms and Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment. Further, it claims to expand its co-production initiatives with films like Ram Setu and Neeyat, besides foraying into original movies with three movies in Hindi and Telugu. According to Trigunayat, India also has a fair number of users using FireTV Stick. “In such a scenario the platform’s recommendation engine works in the favour of its own content. This allows the platform to put its own programming on the top or the one it wants to promote,” he added. However, this is not yet available on Smart TVs. 

Data of Amazon Prime Video Mobile Web (Source: Comscore)

Data of Amazon Prime Video Mobile App (Source: Comscore)

As Amazon Prime Video in India continues to build its store by adding more channels, experts opined that the marketplace model is expected to provide it an advantage, especially in a market like India, especially when it comes to building a strong revenue based model. “Our local approach to programming has helped us go deeper in India with Prime Video receiving viewership from 99% of India’s codes, and at the same time wider outside the country by reaching audiences in over 240 countries and territories who now have access to Indian stories,” Gandhi said. 

Read Also: Locomotive Global’s Sunder Aaron on how edgy films are finding audiences on OTT

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