Soon, Amazon may add cable channels to Prime Video in India

Varun Agarwal | | Updated on: Mar 07, 2019

To start channel subscriptions through Prime Video, users need an eligible Prime membership

In the battle between the OTT players, Amazon could soon be edging ahead of arch rival Netflix by turning itself into a content platform that will not only have movies and TV shows, but also access to television channels in India.

Amazon Prime Channels is already a popular offering from Amazon in the US, UK and Japan and it could soon be coming to India. Netflix, on the other hand, has no such platform even in other markets.

Prime subscriptions

“In the US, UK, Japan and in a bunch of other countries, subscribers of Amazon Prime can subscribe to HBO, CBS, Showtime, Starz, through their Amazon Prime subscription. So instead of paying my cable or satellite provider, you can pay for channels like HBO through Amazon. Then all the HBO content gets added to your Prime Video app. It has done really well. It is coming to India soon,” James Farrel, Head of International Originals, Prime Video, told BusinessLine.

To start channel subscriptions through Prime Video, users need an eligible Prime membership. Users typically get an option to choose whatever channel they like and then subscribe to them individually.

Users are required to pay separately for each of the channels over and above their Prime subscription fee of ₹999 a year charged in India.

With Channels, Amazon may get an edge over Netflix in India but it will still have to compete hard with other platforms that already offer live TV streaming. Hotstar for example, also offers 33 live channels on its platform, primarily from its own group companies.

Other players

While some of the channels offered on Hotstar are available with free subscription, others like HBO require a premium membership. Hotstar, however, doesn’t separately charge for each live channel. Similarly, Reliance Jio offers 575 TV channels on its Jio TV app.

Whether Amazon will adopt the Hotstar model or offer live channels in a bundle, is yet to be seen. Amazon declined to comment on which channels would be available on its platform in India at launch nor did it disclose its launch plans in the country.

Higher penetration

India is expected to see over 600 million users on video-on-demand platforms by 2023, creating a video streaming market of $5 billion, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

At a size of $500 million, 82 per cent of the users in the Indian market are currently engaged on advertising-led video-on-demand platforms (AVoD) versus 18 per cent who pay for content on subscription-led (SVoD) services, the report said.

This is giving enough fillip to companies like Amazon to heavily invest in the market with lower priced offerings and large number of original shows. “In 2019, we’ll launch 20 new originals globally, seven of which will be in India,” Farrel said.

Amazon is investing heavily to create original shows for the Indian market in not just English but also seven regional languages including Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Farrel said the company is also working towards offering dubbing for popular shows and movies in multiple Indian languages to allow more people access to the platform.

“We’ve already seen great success for Indian originals. We will now start to see returning seasons this year (second seasons of popular Indian original shows).”

Published on March 07, 2019
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