Amazon Prime Video is foraying into movie rentals in India with a new offering called Prime Video Store. The service will allow users to rent popular local and international movies in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada, it disclosed on Twitter.
Although a part of Amazon's flagship video streaming service that is available only to Prime members, the rental service will be available to customers who are not Prime members as well. It is currently available through a dedicated section on the Amazon Prime Video app and website.
At the time of writing this article, the service was offering movies on rentals starting from Rs 99 to Rs 499 across various genres including action, adventure, science fiction, horror, documentaries, animated movies, comedy, and kids and family movies.
It currently offers movies such as The Batman, Spiderman No Way Home, Matrix Resurrections, Raazi, The Harry Potter Series, Drushyam 2, and Shrek among others.
The service will also offer consumers early access to some of the premium movies before making it broadly available on its Prime Video service.
Disney+ had also launched a similar initiative called Premier Access in the United States in September 2020 wherein users could pay an extra fee to get early access to select movies. However, the service was limited to only Disney+ subscribers while Amazon Prime Video's service is available to all users.
"In addition to our investments in great content, we are super excited about the launch of our TVOD movie rental service, that will not just give even more expanded reach to these films but also give customers more choice in how they want to access and watch content” said Gaurav Gandhi, country head, Amazon Prime Video India.
"Prime Video India today sees viewership from 99% of the country’s pin-codes. India continues to be one of Prime Video’s fastest-growing & most engaged locale globally" he added.
Amazon Prime Video's diversification
After launching its video streaming service in India in 2016, Amazon has been expanding its offerings catering to a variety of business models.
The company launched its video entertainment marketplace Prime Video Channels in August 2021, allowing Prime Video customers to buy add-on subscriptions to several third-party services and stream their content on app and website.
It also launched an ad-supported video streaming service miniTV in May 2021, which is currently available on Amazon's flagship shopping app on Android and iOS.
Read: Video streaming services went beyond India's big cities in 2021. What to expect in 2022?
With this rental offering, the online retail giant will take on rivals such as Apple, Google and BookMyShow, all of whom currently offer similar rental service to consumers in India.
New content lineup
Along with this launch, Amazon Prime Video also announced a new slate of 41 new original series, movies and co-productions in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, that will launch over the next 24 months. This is its biggest slate in India to date.
Aparna Purohit, Head of India Originals at Amazon Prime Video India had previously told Moneycontrol in March 2022 that they have built a bouquet of 39 originals across multiple languages, genres, and formats in the past five years.
At an event in Mumbai, Gandhi and SVOD (subscription video-on-demand) head Sushant Sreeram said on April 28 that they will double its investment in producing local content over the next five years.
"In the last 5 years, we have built a strong slate of locally produced content across languages, super-serving the diverse entertainment needs of Indian customers. With increased access and distribution, we have helped these great stories travel far and wide in India, and around the world" Gandhi said in a statement.
"We are deeply committed to grow this segment further and are going bigger on our film licensing partnerships, expanding our co-production initiatives and are now excited to announce our foray into original movies" he said.
The new slate of content include 22 original scripted series (15 Hindi series, 5 Tamil series, and 2 Telugu series); four original unscripted series, nine returning series,three original films (two Hindi and one Telugu film), and two Hindi co-productions.
For original series, the company has tied up with production firms such as Nikkhil Advani's Emmy Entertainment, Karan Johar's Dharmatic Entertainment, Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar's Excel Media and Entertainment, Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti's Tiger Baby, Raj & DK's D2R Films, and Pritish Nandy Communications, among others.
For original movies, it has partnered with Dharmatic Entertainment, Tamil Nadu-based Stone Bench, Leo Media Collective and Amritpal Singh Bindra.
Among the returning series include new seasons of Mirzapur, Paatal Lok, Panchayat, Made in Heaven, Four More Shots Please!, The Family Man, Comicstaan, Breathe: Into The Shadows.
Besides this, Amazon Prime Video announced new licensing deals with Excel Media and Entertainment and Yash Raj Films (5 upcoming films apiece), Ajay Devgn FFilm (4 upcoming films), and Dharma Productions (3 films)
"Our mission has been to tell compelling, authentic and rooted stories that not just connect with audiences in India but resonate with audiences across the world" Purohit said in a statement.
"We feel humbled that the characters of our shows and films have inspired new archetypes, blazed a new trail, and in fact, become a part of the cultural zeitgeist. As we move forward, we are excited to partner with some of the most prolific creators to bring forth powerful stories across different formats, genres and languages for our customers. We are confident that our upcoming slate of shows and films will transcend all barriers of language, nationality or formats" she said.
Amazon currently competes with a host of rivals such as Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, MX Player, Zee5, Sony Liv and Voot, among others.