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Amazon to offer free videos in its Prime push to top

Seeking to woo online shoppers, Amazon will now offer Prime members on-demand videos for free. The Prime membership, which costs ₹499 per year, promises next-day delivery.

business Updated: Dec 15, 2016 10:15 IST
Sunny Sen
Seeking to woo online shoppers, Amazon will now offer Prime members on-demand videos for free. The Prime membership, which costs ₹499 per year, promises next-day delivery.
Seeking to woo online shoppers, Amazon will now offer Prime members on-demand videos for free. The Prime membership, which costs ₹499 per year, promises next-day delivery. (HT Photo)

Seeking to woo online shoppers, Amazon will now offer Prime members on-demand videos for free. The Prime membership, which costs ₹499 per year, promises next-day delivery.

The firm plans to build an eclectic collection of shows and films. These will be in English, Hindi, and four other regional languages.

Amit Agarwal, head of Amazon India, told HT on Wednesday that nine Amazon Indian Originals (exclusive) were being produced, adding they would add more Indian content to the platform.

The membership that aims to build loyalty was the single largest selling item during the month of Diwali.

Prime video competes with Netflix and YouTube globally, but the competition is tougher in India. Hungama, Hotstar, Sony Liv, Airtel’s Wynk, Spuul also compete with Prime video in India.

“It doesn’t matter what others offer … prime is a unique hybrid of a physical and content marketplace,” said Tim Leslie, vice-president, Amazon Video International.

But making exclusive content is costly. Amazon will lose more money than it makes through subscription. “The goal is to make the Prime experience better,” said Leslie.

The company is already losing millions of dollars in India in its battle against homegrown rivals Flipkart and Snapdeal.

Moreover, Amazon’s video push comes at a time when YouTube is in talks with large production houses, television channels and studios to produce content. Some of these are Yash Raj Films, Shemaroo, Zee, and Sony.

Others, too, aren’t willing to give way. “We will continue to focus on providing the best quality Indian content … our upcoming releases and content additions will reflect that,” said Spuul India CEO, Rajiv Vaidya.

Exclusive content, like exclusive deals in e-commerce, has become critical to attract audience. Amazon, too, has partnered with production houses, actors, and directors, including Vikram Malhotra, Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Anushka Sharma and R Madhavan, to develop new series.

But Amazon isn’t spending wastefully. India has 350 million internet users (second largest in the world), and Bollywood is one of the three biggest obsessions in the country – cricket and astrology being the other two.