When Amazon packs the heat, it goes all out. That the online retail giant is making it a business to woo India is old news, but the extent to which it is going desi to win is worth noticing.
Tamil megastar Rajinikanth’s gangsta flick Kabali broke all sorts of records when it opened earlier this year. And now Amazon says it has inked a long-term agreement with one of India’s most successful production companies, making Amazon Prime Video India the exclusive streaming channel for one of the biggest movie hits in the country this year.
“Earning over INR 500 crores [US$75 million] in combined worldwide box office collections, this is the first time that top Tamil films will be available on a video streaming service at almost the same time as their satellite TV premiere,” the company said in a statement.
Amazon’s also roped in rights to stream another blockbuster, Theri, starring popular star Vijay.
We told you in July that Amazon wants to launch Prime services in the country, complete with TV shows. The company eventually did launch its Prime delivery options, but the video unit was still missing.
The Prime page’s video section in India now looks like this. Notice the playing-up of local #content versus international shows. That, by the way, is sort of a contrast to Netflix’s strategy – Netflix has, as of now, kept its content more or less similar across geographies, and is more popular in India for its international shows than for local content.
Mashable reported earlier this week that Amazon will make its videos free for those who already have a Prime membership, which effectively makes it the cheapest bundle the Seattle-based company has launched anywhere in the world.
Amazon did not respond to an email asking about launch dates.
Prime memberships (without video) currently cost around US$15 for a year, but there’s an introductory offer that lets users buy it for US$7.50. In comparison, China’s getting it for US$28 for the first year and US$57 thereafter (again, no video). Prime Video membership in the United States costs $8.99 a month.
In comparison, Netflix packages start at US$7.50 a month, and can go up to US$12. And there are hidden costs (which can creep up for Amazon as well, but given the cheaper basic rates, it’s still likely to be more affordable).
A launch of the Prime delivery service followed by the video streaming means Amazon is serious about creating its own ecosystem in India, same as in the United States or Europe. Customers paying for Prime membership are more likely to stick to Amazon because of the obvious ease of transactions.
That would mean better customer loyalty. The battle now is twofold : Amazon vs Flipkart for ecommerce, and Amazon vs Netflix for digital content.