With Amazon Prime Video Channels, we provide width & depth of choice: Chaitanya Divan

Amazon Prime Video Channels launches in India from today (September 24, 2021). Prime Video Channels offers friction-free and convenient access to a wide range of premium content from multiple video streaming services all available at a single destination – Amazon Prime Video website and apps. At launch, Prime Video Channels kickstarts with 8 premium OTT channel partners – Discovery+, Lionsgate Play, Eros Now, Docubay, MUBI, Hoichoi, Manorama Max, and Shorts TV – available with add-on subscriptions to Prime members in India.

Prime Video Channels, acting as an intermediary, will allow Prime members the option for add-on subscriptions of popular OTT services and stream their content on the Amazon Prime Video app and website in India.

At launch, Prime members can enjoy a special introductory annual subscription offer made available by the OTT channel partners. Customers will need to pay only for the service they choose.

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In an exclusive conversation with Adgully, Chaitanya Divan, Head Prime Video Channels, Amazon Prime Video, speaks at length about Amazon Prime Video Channels’ launch in India, the services that it will offer to customers, creating a video entertainment marketplace, future vision of Amazon Prime in India and much more.

Amazon Prime Video Channels have been available in at least 11 countries for a while. What took it so much time to launch the service in India?

Prime Video Channels launched approximately five years back in the US. In that period, it has expanded very rapidly and is now available in 11 countries. We now have more than 350 live channels on the service across different geographies. Coming to India, we don't think we’re late at all. Because today we’re in the golden age of content, particularly digital content. Consumers can get access to almost any movie, original show or TV show from around the world. So that choice has grown exponentially. But along with the power of choice, that has also brought a lot of inconvenience for the users. Let's say I want to watch a movie. I first identify some movie, I have to now jump from one app to the other to figure out where that movie is available. Once I figure that out, I have to then create an account, password, use my credit card to make a payment. Later, I realize that I want to access that service on my phone during my daily commute. But then that app doesn't work on my phone. Or a couple of months later, I go back to the service and I've forgotten my password. What I'm getting at is that while choice of content has exploded, convenience has not improved. There is still a lot of friction and hindrances in getting to the content that a user wants to watch. Prime Video Channels is trying to solve exactly this need gap that we've heard from consumers, not just in India, but globally. We want customers to spend more time watching and less time searching!

How exactly are you looking at creating a Video Entertainment Marketplace in India with Prime Video Channels?

Prime Video Channels is a video entertainment marketplace. This means that we will have a selection of content from third-party partners and all of this will be made available inside the Prime Video app. Customers will be able to pick and choose which partner’s content they want to watch, and hence, they will not be compelled to buy all the channels as a bundle. Instead, they can actually pick and choose which channels they want to subscribe to. That's what a marketplace implies. So, the choice is ultimately with the customer.

Beyond selection, of course, is the whole convenience angle. Through a single app which is Prime Video and with just a couple of clicks, they can easily pay for various subscriptions, and then start watching inside Prime Video itself. This means that they don’t need to download different apps at all. Our customers love our features like IMDb’s X-ray, watchlists and continue watching. All these features will be available across all content that is available on Prime Video, whether it is ours or our channel partners’. All of this makes the streaming experience rather seamless.

Apart from convenient access, what other benefits will Prime Video Channels offer subscribers – in terms of discounted prices, etc.?

I think one of the biggest benefits really, is that we are not forcing the customer to buy the whole bundle. We are letting the customer choose which channel they want and only pay for that channel. The second big differentiator is that Prime Video today is available across a wide range of devices, hence, from a customer's point of view, it's very easy for them to just use that app and start subscribing to that second customer benefit. We are also working closely with our partners, and our partners have decided to offer unique discounts to make the introductory price more attractive for customers.

You are starting with eight video-streaming services. How did you partner with them for Prime Video Channels? Are you in talks to bring on board more OTT players for this service?

Let's start with how we arrived at these eight. We have highly engaged customers on Prime Video and through their viewership patterns, we have a deep understanding of what they like to watch. And that same consumer understanding, we're extending to our choice of partners as well for Prime Video Channels. So, we've been very deliberate in identifying partners that are catering to what our customers want to watch, and giving them more of their favorites.

Additionally, yes, we are in active conversations with multiple other partners. The intention is to grow the number of channels rapidly over time. We want to replicate the global success so that we provide this width and depth of choice of content to our customers in India as well.

What is the revenue that has been generated globally for Prime Video Channels?

We don't disclose financials. So, unfortunately, I'm not in a position to talk about that. But what I can really talk about is that out of the 350 live channels globally, most of them have worked with us time and again. Second, six out of the eight partners we are launching with in India, have worked with us in other territories, and now they're extending that relationship to India as well. Now think about it, if you were a partner, why would you extend your contract or expand your relationship to India because now you've worked with Amazon and can see the benefit that comes out of it to your customer engagement and business, And that's the reason they trust Amazon with their content. I’ll give you another instance. Jeff Bezos was in India last year. And he said that Prime Video itself is doing very well all over the world. But nowhere is it doing better than in India. That gives us confidence that the customers who are engaging with Prime Video love our service deeply and we will be able to deliver that same level of engagement for Prime Video Channels as well. 

Could you give us an overview of Amazon Prime Video’s growth in India in the last two years?

Overall viewing, in terms of hours watched, on Prime Video has grown 3x in the last two years. Macro industry trends like smartphone penetration and cheap data are fueling the growth. Over the last year or so, a lot of customers have sampled video streaming and Prime Video specifically. The long-term trends are clearly pointing to continued growth. There are these tailwinds, if I can call them that, which make us believe that this is really the future of video entertainment.

What is the future vision for Amazon Prime Video? What will be your focus areas?

The focus for Amazon is always the customer. We obsess about what our customers want and then go out of our way to deliver that to our customers. And that's true across Amazon, whether it's the retail side of the business or Prime Video. So, we will always be very close to the pulse of the customer, understand what customers want and just give them more of that.


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