Nimish SawantJul 26, 2016 16:10:46 IST
I woke up to the news of Amazon Prime coming to India today. You can register for a 60-day trial, after which you will be charged Rs 499 per year (to become Rs 999 after the inaugural offer) for Amazon Prime. This service will give you a guaranteed and free one-day or two-day delivery on Prime ready products (regardless of the minimum cost); discounts on same day delivery in certain cities; 30-min early access to Amazon Lightning deals.
But this isn't something that excited me more than that 'Prime Video is coming' announcement at the bottom of the Amazon Prime page. Prime Video gives you access to Amazon Original Series and Movies along with premium movies as well as TV shows from various Indian and foreign TV networks.
Amazon hasn't clarified whether the Prime Video service will be part of the Rs 499 or Rs 999 package eventually, along with the available Prime services or if it will be sold as a separate service. If it is part of Amazon Prime package, then customers are in for a treat. In a space where Netflix, Hotstar and many other independent players have already got a head start, Amazon could disrupt the space with its pricing.
Currently, Netflix charges Rs 500 per month for its Basic standard definition plan for one screen. Hotstar offers a premium plan of Rs 199 per month and it has separate plans in case you want to just consume specific sporting events. Eros Now has plans starting from Rs 49 per month for unlimited movies and TV shows. But with Hotstar and Eros Now, we are talking majority of Indian content, whereas Netflix has majority international content (although the catalogue is limited as compared to the US).
Traditionally in the US, the Amazon Prime service includes the Prime Video service in the $99 yearly package. Amazon India is offering Amazon Prime at a fraction of that cost at Rs 499 per year. If the video service is part of this bundle, then you can do the math with regards its competition.
Amazon Prime Video service in the US offers content from a lot of TV networks, in addition to Amazon Original programming. In fact, the Prime Video service offers a larger catalogue than Netflix in the US, but Netflix has more high-definition content and a lot more original programming which is what sets it apart.
Amazon also has its own Amazon Originals division, and some of its shows such as Transparent, The Man in the High Castle and Mozart in the Jungle for instance have been quite well received. Of course, Netflix has more more bragging rights in this department thanks to its crowd pullers such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Narcos, Marvel Superhero series and more. Add in the fact Netflix plans to double its original series to over 30 this year and you know who is going more aggressive.
But imagine getting all that video content in addition to 1-day, 2-day free delivery of products from Amazon. The cost of Rs 499 or Rs 999 in the future, can easily be compensated by just 10-15 purchases on Amazon. You are essentially getting the video streaming service for free then, so long as you watch TV shows or movies under Amazon Prime label. It will most likely be a separate plan. After all, the US pricing is almost Rs 6,000 plus for the complete Prime package. But what if it isn't?
The only fear is, what if a lot of the popular shows are not part of the Amazon Prime Video bundle? What if you have to pay separately to rent or download this content from Amazon? I will have to wait till Amazon Prime Video launches in India to be able to answer these questions.
Whatever the case, I really hope it doesn't go the Amazon Unlimited way. Being a voracious reader, I tried the Amazon Unlimited feature for a couple of months. One thing I noticed immediately was the fact that a lot of Amazon's self-published titles were being pushed my way and I really had to search a lot for getting the books that I actually wanted. I noticed the overall catalogue for Amazon Unlimited to not really align with my interest areas. Eventually, I discontinued it.
If Amazon Prime Video indeed comes on as a package, and if it indeed does offer a robust catalogue, I don't see any hindrance in its path to popularity with the masses. Netflix is still expensive for a lot of Indian consumers if you want to view content in HD. Internet bandwidth and speeds are still an issue. As things stand in the Indian online video streaming services for TV network content, Amazon is the only player which has the resources to present an alternative to Netflix in India.
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