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Will the Amazon-Netflix War Spill Over Into India?

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The two streaming digital giants at the moment, Amazon and Netflix, may just be poised to do battle in an industry that is poised at the beginning stages of explosive growth over the next several years. It seems that India, with over 460 million world wide web users, will be the next battlefield for the two digital titans.

The demand for local content is huge in India who, of course, is no stranger to high tech or to the video and film production industry. Their beloved Bollywood continues to roll along as strongly as its American sister, Hollywood. Like many in the industry, the Chinese market will have to wait a bit while the next real turf war looks to be on the Indian subcontinent.

There are, of course some infrastructure problems there with one being that the country has almost the slowest bandwidth speed in the world coming in at around 2 mbps in contrast to the average speed of 11.5 mbps in the United States of America. Nonetheless, India continues to remain a proverbial hotbed of activity with regard to producing original content.

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Amazon announced two weeks ago that it was launching its Amazon Prime Video in India and aggressive pricing and local content production has the program off and running at a seemingly steady pace. The announcement said that Amazon Prime Video was to, also, debut in 242 other countries as well. India is driven by Bollywood and they want, for the most part, to see original video content that brings that Bollywood spirit with it.

The new American presence in the SVOD market is only going to heat up as Netflix has been entrenched there for nearly a year. When Netflix began rolling last January, it announced it was going into 190 countries. While both Netflix and Amazon charge ahead, they are finding serious, and well heeled, competitors already there and thriving. Such competition includes the like of 21st Century Fox backed Hotstar and other local producers and platforms backed by such entertainment giants as Sony Entertainment and Viacom.

Jehil Thakar, an industry analyst who is based in Mumbai, observed that content creation was going to mean the difference between winning and losing in India and that it, “is going to be the real differentiator between all of the OTT platforms.”

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Both Netflix and Amazon have been aggressively pursuing the major content creators including Phantom Films and Excel Entertainment. Excel is one of Bollywood’s major players and has been for many years. Amazon has already announced that it currently has nine original shows already in production. In addition to their original programming, both Netflix and Amazon are showing much of their own successful original content as well as other licensed content and films. Amazon has stated that they are offering fare from such broadcast and Hollywood heavy hitters as CBS, Lionsgate, Paramount and Warner Brothers.

As the analyst firm KPMG India has noted; American and Western programming accounts for only around .05% of total Indian programming while foreign and American films are only about 10% of the box office take. There are established players in India putting out quality Indian content. When the major Indian players also televise the Indian national game of cricket, the run to break into the market may seem a bit uphill. Cricket is almost a religion and India and they feel about the game in a similar way in which Canadians revere hockey. For anyone to grab a slice of the cricket broadcast pie would be a major coup.

Fox’s Hotstar has been around only since last year and is showing a mix of entertainment and sports. Hotstar claims 130 million Indian households at this time. The OTT market in India is certainly heating up and it looks as if there will be a serious battle for the hearts and minds of the Indian public for quite a few years to come.

Mr. Sawyer is a freelance writer, editor and journalist from Tampa. He has written thousands of articles for hundreds of magazines and news sites on countless topics including science, the media and technology. He is also the author of many white papers, special reports and ebooks covering a wide range of subjects.
Kevin Sawyer
Broadcast Beat - Production Industry Resource