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Amazon Prime Video eyes growth from international markets

Ajita Shashidhar     March 7, 2019

Netflix has the first-mover advantage in the US with a subscriber base of 148 million. Amazon Prime Video is a distant second with 26-30 million subscribers. This explains why the world's biggest online retailer, Amazon's OTT arm, Amazon Prime Video is expecting a bulk of its growth to come from outside of the US.

"It is the key way forward and we are in the middle of a global expansion into so many different amazing places, but India has always been an important, huge market for us," says Jennifer Salke, Head, Amazon Studios.

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Salke, is in India to announce Amazon Prime Video's new original, a thriller, starring Akshay Kumar. This is being produced by Abundantia Entertainment, which also produced Amazon's first Indian original, Breathe. Salke says that they have announced 20 international shows, out of which seven are being produced in India.

"You could look to more global expansion. We acquired a show, Hannah, which came out of Europe. It's now a big hit, it was promoted out of the Super Bowl which is a big opportunity. The way we are looking at content is that it doesn't matter where it has come from, if it's great content we are going to get behind it in a global way," explains Salke.

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Breathe, the first original from India, for instance, was taken to other markets and received a great response.

The OTT company claims that it has an edge over competition in Europe, especially in Italy, it is also making inroads into Latin America in a big way. It also has a significant presence in Japan.

So, how is Amazon Prime Video different from Netflix? Salke's instant response is that she has immense respect for Netflix and that she watches several of their shows. "Our content is not about volume, it is about quality over quantity," she emphasises. Her colleague, James Farrell, Head of International Originals, Amazon Prime Video echoes Salke.

"We just don't go and buy a show like a transaction," he says.

Farrell says that the upcoming show with Akshay Kumar has taken them almost three years. "For the last three years, we have been discussing with him every couple of months, discussing how we want to do this show, how we can make it bigger, that we should do multiple seasons and so on. Akshay Kumar is the star of the show and we are working on cultivating a long relationship with him," says Farrell.

However, profitability will evade most OTT players for some time to come. Producing a show costs anywhere between Rs 7 lakh to Rs 2 crore per episode and all of them be it Amazon Prime Video, Netflix or Hotstar are burning huge amounts of cash.

It will be not just be a game of nerves but will also be about who has more money to splurge.

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