Amazon announced that it would make available its video streaming service Amazon Prime to Indian audiences starting Wednesday in a bid to challenge rivals Netflix and Hotstar.
Online streaming - especially legal online streaming - is still a rather novel concept in our country. But bingeing TV shows is not. The only measure of Prime’s success is the quality of programming it will offer.
We will compare both services on the basis of their original content soon, but for now, let’s compare them based on the variety of Indian movies and TV they offer.
First, compare the home pages:
Here’s Netflix’s home page. It tailors itself to suit the user’s taste, but like Amazon, will showcase originals right at the top.
And here’s the Prime home page. It’s at default right now, but the Indian category is right up there in the first scroll.
When you search for ‘Bollywood’ on Netflix, this is the list you get. There are a few big films, but nothing top tier. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Singh is Kinng, Bodyguard and Singham are the biggest titles in the first scroll.
As you continue, the titles films like Ghayal, Main Aur Charles and D-Day appear. The one noticeable aspect is that all these films are at least a year old.
When you enter the ‘Indian’ section of their library, Netflix offers a wide variety of movies. Unlike Prime, which we’ll get to soon, the titles here - like Sairat and Court - are of the critically-acclaimed kind. But we notice Kya Kool Hain Hum 3 as well.
Now we’re deep into the page. Again, Singh is Bliing is the highest-profile film there, but we can see a host of acclaimed titles like Shahid, Shanghai, Filmistaan and Black Friday. There’s even a cult Bengali rap musical that we can’t name.
Here’s the final screenshot from the Netflix ‘Indian’ section. These are really obscure titles.
Amazon Prime’s Bollywood section boasts Sultan and Sarbjit right at the top. We also notice films like Fan, Raaz Reboot, Dhoom 3, Ek Tha Tiger, Kapoor & Sons and in a repeat from Netflix: Prem Ratan Dhan Payo.
The ‘Tamil’ section features Rajinikanth’s last film Kabali.
Prime has separate sections based on language, and to cater to local audiences, regional films have been given their own sections.
For example, here’s the ‘Marathi’ section. However, Netflix’s Marathi selection featured two of the biggest releases in recent memory: Sairat and Court.
Finally, the ‘Bengali’ section on Amazon Prime.
As things stand, Prime certainly has a more populist approach, while Netflix’s Indian library is slightly more dated and more niche. There’s also word that Prime will be censoring its content, unlike Netflix, which is going to be a deal breaker for many.
In terms of navigation and interface, Prime’s library has more regional sections whereas Netflix’s library often doesn’t yield results if one searches with keywords. For example, we tried searching for Tamil movies, and got zero hits.
Amazon’s rating system includes IMDb ratings, while Netflix relies completely on user ratings for movies and shows. But this is probably because Amazon owns IMDb. However, we would have liked a social media feature on both sites.
It’ll be interesting to see how they alter their libraries now that the competition is heating up.
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