Amazon launched in India on Friday a bundling option on its video platform for global and local streaming services, in a move aimed at boosting subscriptions.
The launch comes at a time of increasing competition from global and domestic rivals in an important market for the US tech company.
The Amazon Channels service will help customers using its Prime flagship loyalty programme to subscribe to multiple streaming apps on a single interface, Gaurav Gandhi, the head of Amazon Prime Video in India, told Reuters in an interview ahead of the launch.
"We believe besides solving customer problems... multiple apps, multiple log ins... it also solves a lot for our partners where they are able to get the benefit of Prime Video's reach and ubiquitous distribution," said Gandhi.
The service is launching with streaming apps from partners including Discovery, Lions Gate Entertainment, and Mubi, said Gandhi, adding that India is the 12th country where it is being launched.
Gandhi declined to talk about specifics of revenue sharing with content partners or discuss other financial parameters of the service.
Amazon's Prime loyalty programme, which costs an annual Rs. 999 in India, offers customers free delivery, early access to deals during sales, and free music and video streaming.
India, the world's second-most populous nation with 1.3 billion people, is a vital growth market for Amazon and its global rivals Netflix and Walt Disney.
Prime Video's rival Disney+ Hotstar hosts Bollywood movies, TV shows and live streams India's popular cricket league matches, while Netflix has bet big on local original content. An announced merger of India's Zee and a local unit of Japan's Sony is also set to create a TV powerhouse that will challenge Prime Video and others in the market.
Amazon has invested heavily in acquiring and producing local content in India and its founder Jeff Bezos said last year that Prime Video was doing well globally "but nowhere it's doing better than India". Amazon does not break out user numbers by country.
But India has also proven to be a political minefield for Amazon where it was forced to issue a rare apology earlier this year for some scenes in an original drama series, which allegedly hurt Hindu religious beliefs.
"We learn from experiences and we work on," Gandhi said when asked if Amazon Prime Video had become more careful in selecting and hosting content after the controversy.
© Thomson Reuters 2021
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