Amazon Prime is one of the biggest streaming platforms in India today. The platform has evolved from bringing Bollywood and US content to our screens to giving original content. They started out with Inside Edge and followed it up with Breathe. While Farhan Akthar’s Mirzapur is in the works, we got in touch with Vijay Subramanium, the India Head of Amazon Prime for a brief chat at the sidelines of the trailer launch of their new show, The Remix.
What made you decide to make inroads into India?
It’s a very exciting market. We are very committed to it. It was a great opportunity to help our customer derive the benefits of e-commerce. That is what appealed us.
What is the process of deciding content on Amazon Prime?
Everything that we do reflects a customer preference, both existing and emerging, that’s our North Star. When we started off, the first thing we realised is variety is key and secondly, serving local tastes and preferences works. We quickly identified some aspects that seem simple now, one of them being, we love our films. So, we ensured that we had the latest and the most compelling pieces of Indian cinema, both local as well as international. We know a segment loves US TV and watching popular shows as well as the newer ones. We saw the popularity of the regional language films, so we were there. We also have compelling kids’ content, as most of our users have families.
We also saw a big gap for scripted fiction and unscripted originals. So, we decided to combat that with our ‘own local’ strategy. We are working on a slew of shows within that gambit. We started with Inside Edge and followed it up with Breathe. We are hitting on all genres as we go along. There’s a whole bunch of shows that are in production or post production. As we go along, you will see that there are more and more shows. You can then determine whether we addressed this genre or not.
The content inventory of Amazon Prime has changed. Now, every week, we have a big release on the streaming platform. Does Amazon Prime want to disengage audiences from the cinematic experience?
We believe in the cinematic experience. We believe cinema has a big role to play in the entertainment experience. Most films come to us early, but they don’t come before they come to the theatres, nor do they come to us while they are in theatres. That said, it’s a matter of convenience. We are just giving the audience a chance to catch up on the movies they have missed out in cinemas and theatres. Amazon Prime believes in catering to their preferences – which is the latest movies, quickly and conveniently. The flip side is that the releases are also getting a second life. It benefits our customers and content producers.
Amazon Prime came up with a price point that’s much lower than the competitors. How has that worked out?
We are very happy with the pricing. It’s all about giving our customers fantastic variety and serving it to them at their convenience, giving them affordable and reliance services. Prime Video technology allows you to optimise the data consumption at which you want to watch. It allows you to put data usage limits. We are very cognizant of the fact that customers like all of that. It is important for us to provide them with all these benefits. If they ascribe to it, we believe we are satisfying their expectations. That’s really been our approach and will continue to be our approach.
There’s been talk of reality shows ruining television. Were you nervous before greenlighting The Remix on Amazon Prime?
As a service, for the originals, we were looking for something that reflected the user viewing habits. In the originals space, we were looking for something that would resonate with the audience. Reality TV, in general, is very appealing to the young generation. It brings in new dimensions to story telling. There’s no script that controls what’s happening. Things evolve. We chose music and some other subjects that are close to the young generation, like dating, adventure, etc. Music is a broad spectrum and all of us preferences in music and music is extremely diverse. Therefore, it unites.
As far as the format is concerned, we were excited about having the opportunity to bring as a format because it is already so popular in India. It’s a clear customer preference. As far as The Remix is concerned, we were clear that we wanted to do something refreshing in music, something that would be high energy and different from regular television fare. When we saw this show, we knew that this is what we wanted. We thought that this is something we must go ahead with. It hits all the high notes. It is high on energy and has some great singing talents as well as great producing talent. It also shows you the creative challenges and the whole process of creating. It gives you life size performances – it’s almost like a series of concerts.
As content creation partners, how hands-on are you with your producers?
We are completely hands on. We respect the creators. We want to bring their best creative game when we collaborate with them. If there are great stories, we are willing to bring them on the streaming screens.
The road ahead for streaming audiences and streaming produces is clear – audiences preferences is what will make anything being greenlights. Is it time that the Indian media consumer really becomes the king – that’s something that only time will tell.