Movie streaming players fight it out for new content

Bindu D Menon Mumbai | Updated on January 12, 2018

Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar strike exclusive partnerships with leading production firms

Tying up with leading production houses and original content creators seem to be a key strategy that most over-the-top (OTT) players are adopting. With competition in the space intensifying, companies in the vertical are forging exclusive long-term partnerships with leading production firms to build a huge library for films and web-series.

These partnerships will extend to both old and new films and in most cases latest releases will be premiered on OTT platforms ahead of their television premiere signalling the growing importance of OTT platforms.

While international players Netflix and Amazon Prime Videos are going more local with regional content deals, Star India-owned Hotstar is going the other way with more international content.

Hotstar-Disney tie-up

Hotstar is the latest to enter a multi-year exclusive partnership with Disney India to showcase the studio’s blockbuster movies on the premium version of its video streaming services Hotstar premium. This means that best sellers such as Lucas film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney’s The Jungle Book and Moana, Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange, Disney Pixar’s Finding Dory, will be available on Hotstar.

In addition, Hotstar premium subscribers will also have access to popular movies and classics from Disney’s library including Ratatouille, Brave, Toy Story 3; Disney’s The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest as well as popular American TV series from ABC Studios such as Castle and Desperate Housewives.

Ajit Mohan, CEO, Hotstar, said, “Over the last six months, we have established Premium as an exciting new service for an Indian audience that is interested in international stories. This partnership signals our continuing strategy — we will invest deeply and widely with the best story tellers in the world to ensure that Premium continues as the standout streaming service in the country.”

Hotstar has close to 140 million downloads to date. According to third party tracking provider App Annie, which tracks app usage of video streaming platforms, more than 50 million users used the service in India in December.

Netflix, RCE join hands

Last month, Netflix too also entered into a long-term deal with Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment.

The agreement between Netflix and Red Chillies Entertainment (RCE)will also give Netflix members both in India and around the world exclusive subscription video-on-demand access to dozens of RCE films as well as new films that will hit Indian theatres in the next three years.

The first title that will come on Netflix is Dear Zindagi. Among other Red Chillies titles available on Netflix will be box office hits including Happy New Year, Dilwale and Om Shanti Om.

Competitors such as Netflix too recently announced its first local series Sacred Games. It has also partnered with Phantom Films, a film studio founded by Anurag Kashyap, Madhu Mantena, Vikramaditya Motwane and Vikas Bahl to produce the series.

Amazon Prime Videos, which launched its services last month, too has entered over eight to nine partnerships with film-makers including Tamil, Marathi and Telugu film companies.

Amazon Prime Video services will also offer a current Bollywood release merely three weeks after its theatrical release and much ahead of its television or blue ray premiere.

“India has one of the richest and most vibrant entertainment industries in the world. We are excited to be making multiple Indian original shows already, with more to come,” said Roy Price, Vice-President and Head of Amazon Studios.

It has already inked content deals with Bollywood giants such as Karan Johar’s Dharma productions, Mukesh Bhatt’s Vishesh Films and T-Series and host of regional players.

Eros Now, the OTT arm of studio Eros International, too introduced its original series. It had also previously tied up for Indo-Sino productions.

Eros Nows’ parent company too has announced a strong pipeline of more than 50 films across eight languages and over 40 directors on board.

According to a Frost and Sullivan report, the active OTT users stands at 66 million. As per the predictions, active OTT and video-on-demand subscribers are going to increase to 105 million by 2020.

Published on January 17, 2017

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