Video streaming platform Amazon Prime Video (APV) on September 24 announced the launch of Prime Video Channels, a video entertainment marketplace that brings together premium content from multiple partners and makes all content available inside the Prime Video app.
For its India launch, Prime Video Channels has joined hands with eight content partners.
The list includes discovery+, Lionsgate Play, Docubay, Eros Now, MUBI, Hoichoi, Manorama Max, and Shorts TV.
"They bring close to 10,000 titles across blockbuster content to art house cinema," Chaitanya Divan, Head Prime Video Channels, Amazon Prime Video, told Moneycontrol.
At launch, the content partners are offering special introductory annual subscription plans to Indian users.
"Have launched with annual plans because we identified that annual plans have the highest value to customers. Over time we will track customer feedback closely and expand to monthly plans with time," added Divan.
While content offering will increase, will Amazon Prime Video see changes on the platform?
Commenting on this, Divan replied, "Prime Video is not going to change. Within the platform, users will see recommendations of partner content. If a user prefers English content then the person will be shown a recommendation from a partner. For example, say Lionsgate Play, and the user can click titles and start their subscription."
Prime members will be able to watch subscribed Prime Video Channels on the Prime Video app for smart TVs, mobile devices, Fire TV, Fire TV stick, Fire tablets, and Apple TV.
In the Prime Video app, Prime members can download episodes on their mobile devices and tablets and watch anywhere offline.
"From a customer point of view, it provides a hassle-free experience in terms of subscribing, paying, or discovering content. Globally, we are in this golden age of content today. But there is an explosion of choice and it becomes difficult for audiences to manage many different apps and accounts. And more than that content discovery is a challenge," pointed out Divan while explaining the rationale behind launching Prime Video Channels.
Need of a super app
Analyst Karan Taurani, Senior Vice-President at Elara Capital called this a big move.
"If you want to get your customer base higher you have to keep on adding value. So, adding fresh content, catalogue content is a way to add value. I am sure this is going to go a big way," Taurani said.
However, the analyst doesn't see such tie-ups happening with broadcaster OTTs like Disney+Hotstar, Zee Entertainment's Zee5, or Sony LIV.
"But with smaller OTTs these partnerships will emerge. And there is room because there are over 60 OTTs (over-the-top platforms). So, there is a need for super apps in the OTT space," said Taurani.
A value add move
While super apps are needed in the Indian OTT space, will this strategy result in new subscriber addition for Amazon Prime Video?
"I don't think it will benefit in terms of adding more subscribers. It is more of a value add move. There will be some minimal customer acquisitions," said Taurani.
Even Divan did not comment when asked if Prime Video Channels could bring more subscribers to the OTT platform.
"Prime Video Channels is an offering meant for Prime customers and very large customers globally have seen the benefit of having content in one place and of not needing to remember different passwords. Because of that convenience we have seen growth globally and expect to replicate that in India as well," said Divan.
Amazon Prime Video has 18 million subscribers in India as of June 2021, according to Media Partners Asia (MPA), an independent provider of research, advisory, and consulting services. And this number is expected to go up to 21.8 million by end of this year.
Disney+Hotstar which leads in the OTT space in terms of subscriber base has 35.1 million subscribers and it is estimated to increase to 46 million by end of 2021.
This shows that competition is tough in the OTT space which will increase post the Zee Entertainment and Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) merger as the combined entity of Sony LIV and ZEE5 will command a market share of 19 percent in the subscription video-on-demand segment.
In addition, SPNI will be infusing $1.6 billion cash in the merged entity to accelerate its digital platform and to invest in premium content including sports.
Investments in sports will be key as the market leader in the SVOD space Disney+Hotstar offers key cricketing properties including the Indian Premier League (IPL).
According to Nitin Mukhi, Associate Director of RBSA Advisors, Disney+Hotstar which has 130-140 million monthly active users (MAUs) on non-cricketing days sees 30-50 percent higher MAUs when the platform streams key cricketing events like the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Confident about new strategy
While the competition is tough, Divan is confident about the new strategy due to its success in international markets.
"Prime Video Channels which was launched in the US five years back has expanded to 11 countries and to more than 350 channel partners. This is something we look to do in India as well. We are looking at more channel partners in India as well," Divan said.
With more content partner additions, will Prime Video Channels turn out to be a game-changer in the Indian OTT space? That only time tell.