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Flipkart takes on Amazon with free video streaming service

Flipkart’s video streaming service will be available for free and rely on ads. According to reports, the company is in talks with Walt Disney Co and Balaji Telefilms for content

As low-cost mobile data and easy availability of smartphones boost digital consumption in India, the digital space has become a battleground for top players. Cashing on this demand, Walmart Inc’s Flipkart has announced its plan to roll out a video streaming service before Diwali.

With the Flipkart Plus video streaming service, the war between Flipkart and Amazon.com has further intensified. Amazon entered the Indian OTT market in 2016 with Prime Video, a paid service available for Rs 129 monthly and Rs 999 annually. However, unlike Amazon Prime Video, the Flipkart video streaming service will be available for free and will rely on an ad-supported revenue model.

According to reports, Flipkart Plus will be like its no-subscription fee loyalty program. The loyalty program allows Flipkart shoppers to become members by amassing 300 ‘super coins’, at a rate of two coins for every Rs 100 spent on the platform. Users can exchange those tokens for items from flight tickets and food delivery to car rentals and music streaming subscriptions. This loyalty program will also be extended to the video streaming service.

Being in the market for almost three years, Amazon Prime video has succeeded in creating a robust library of around 2,400 titles that includes 2,000 movies and 400 shows. The platform has been investing heavily in creating originals and has launched original series such as Inside Edge, Breathe, Comicstaan and Mind The Malhotras among others.

Flipkart Plus, on the other hand, won’t create any original content and focus on a mix of short films, full-length movies and episodic series. The company is in discussions with content makers to expand the library and licence content. According to reports, Flipkart is in talks with production houses such as Walt Disney and Balaji Telefilms.

Prakash Sikaria, Head of Growth and Monetisation, Flipkart, told PTI, “Our video content offering is focused on three primary aspects, keeping in mind our understanding of the market: free, curated and personalised. We believe that our customers shouldn’t pay extra for premium content and hence, our offering is different from anything else that is currently available.”

In order to expand its access to the next 200 million internet users, the company said it will make its video streaming platform available in vernacular languages. The company will start with Hindi and plans to expand it with other languages such as Tamil, Telugu and Bengali on the platform in the coming months.

On the introduction of Hindi languages, Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO, Flipkart, told PTI that the move is part of the company’s efforts of expanding access to the next 200 million internet users.

“As per research, 90% of new internet users in India are native language speakers coming from tier II and beyond cities. There is a large number of people who would feel more comfortable shopping online if it was made available in their language. We have been working on this for the last one year and have made a huge technology investment,” he said.

Apart from this, Flipkart is introducing ‘Flipkart Ideas’ (content feeds) to assist customers during shopping. Initially, content from over 30 brands and 400 influencers will be showcased along with associated products in all multimedia formats such as videos, GIFs, images, stories, quizzes and polls. This content feed is aimed at helping the customer narrow down on their choices.

With the launch of this video-streaming service, Flipkart will not only compete with Amazon’s Prime Video but will also have stiff competition from 40 other OTT players like Hotstar, Netflix, Voot and Sony Liv among others. The leading platforms like Amazon, Hotstar and Netflix have a subscription-supported revenue model and have strengthened their hold in the Indian OTT market for the past few years. The digital market is going to heat further with the launch of Disney and Apple’s OTT platform, Disney+ and Apple TV+, respectively.

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