Amazon is planning to spend $300m on local content as it rolls out its Amazon Prime Video service in India later this year, according to local reports.
Indian tech sites, including The Factor Daily and BGR India, say the streaming giant is in talks with local studios such as Yash Raj Films and Balaji Telefilms, along with dozens of independent directors and producers.
Amazon hired Nitesh Kripalani, former executive vice president of India’s Multi Screen Media (MSM), to head Amazon Prime in India at the end of 2014. More recently, the company hired former Cinestaan executive Aparna Purohit as head of creative development.
Speaking off the record during this year’s Cannes film festival, several Indian content owners and filmmakers said the streaming giant is already developing local-language film and TV projects, as well as acquiring classics and library titles.
Currently, Amazon Prime Video is only available in the US, UK, Germany and Japan. Amazon declined to comment when contacted by Screendaily.
The investment in an Indian version of Amazon Prime would be part of a $3bn war chest for India that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced in June this year. Speaking at a meeting of business leaders in Washington, also attended by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, Bezos said he sees “huge potential” in the Indian economy.
Amazon has already invested $2bn in rolling out ecommerce services in India, where it competes with local players Flipkart and Snapdeal. Asian tech giants Alibaba, Foxconn and SoftBank invested $500m in Snapdeal in August last year.
India’s online video space is no less competitive. Netflix launched in the territory in January this year as part of its expansion to 190 territories, but faces strong competition from local players such as ErosNow, Spuul and Bigflix.
Most of India’s major broadcasters have also launched streaming apps and OTT services, such as Fox Star India’s popular Hotstar, and Singapore-based SVOD platform HOOQ also entered the fray last year.
Netflix has also been investing in local content – it bought out worldwide rights to Bengali filmmaker Q’s English-language Brahman Naman at this year’s Sundance and also recently announced its first Hindi-language series, an adaptation of Vikram Chandra’s novel Sacred Games, to be produced by Phantom Films.
While streaming has been slow to take off in India due to relatively slow broadband speeds, the imminent rollout of 4G services is expected to ignite the mobile video market. Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries is investing $22.5bn in building out its content-driven Reliance Jio Infocomm 4G services, which launch later this year.