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"Not cannibalistic": Chaitanya Divan on whether Prime Video will be overshadowed by other apps on Prime Video Channels

Chaitanya Divan, Head of Prime Video Channels, Amazon Prime Video, speaks about the prospects of the new service in India

Chaitanya Divan

Over-the-top (OTT) platform Amazon Prime Video recently launched a new feature called Prime Video Channels, which will allow Prime members to get additional access to a number of other streaming services at an additional cost or subscription.

According to Amazon Prime Video, the new service will give them a chance to be a preferred entertainment destination for customers in India. The service includes access to OTTs such as discovery+, Docubay, Eros Now, Hoichoi, Lionsgate Play, Manorama Max, Mubi and ShortsTV. These OTT apps are also providing unique offers, which are introductory in nature to all Prime Video consumers.

In an interaction with BestMediaInfo.com, Chaitanya Divan, Head Prime Video Channels, Amazon Prime Video, says the idea with ‘Channels’ is to empower the choice of the consumer and make access to their choices seamless. Not only does it make content access easier for the consumer but has various benefits for its partners (OTT available on Prime Channel), said Divan.

“We want to make Prime Video the most loved video service in the country. Prime Video offers content in 10 languages, across genres. It has movies, originals and TV shows, yet we know that this is the nature of the content business; no single content provider will have any form of monopoly on the content business. There will always be great content available that customers will want to watch across services. As part of our ambition to make Prime Video the most loved service, we will build these collaborations and allow customers to watch great content in one place seamlessly.”

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Explaining there are financial arrangements with their partners, he said operating a direct-to-consumer business is actually very challenging. It is not just creating content, but it's also about all these other benefits that now Amazon brings as a single suite. “We will manage all of these aspects of the direct-to-consumer business for them. The partner is free to focus on what they do best, which is creating fantastic content; we help that partner take that content to the subscriber.”

Divan explained that the service allows customers to expand selection beyond what is available on Prime Video, and give access to premium content across services inside one app along with single paying benefits.

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Jio had last year launched the ‘JioTV+’ content aggregator app, enabled through JioFiber, which provides content from a number of OTT platforms and Live TV channels. Asked how big a competition will JioTV+ be for Amazon Channels, Divan said their focus has always been the consumer and not the competition.

“A couple of things are unique about Prime Video Channels apart from the selection and convenience. Every channel partner—and we'll add going forward—will be available as à la carte service. Customers have the option to choose the service they want and pay only for that."

“The second benefit is Prime Video today is available on hundreds of devices. Almost all smart TVs and smartphones that are sold in the country and personal devices such as laptops have Prime Video and in one go, and with this launch, all of their content will be available across these different devices or platforms. The idea is to offer choice to customers and make it so seamless for them that this becomes their preferred mode of video consumption,” he added.

Divan spoke about their expectation from channels in terms of performance and said he is confident that people will pay for premium content. “Customers in large numbers are already paying for Prime Video. We are very confident that with the kind of quality of partners we have, we will drive more subscriptions.”

Speaking about their ambition, he said the journey for video streaming has just begun, and with smartphone and broadband penetration, it will continue to grow. “What sets Amazon apart is this deep understanding of customers. We are obsessed with figuring out what customers want and then delighting them by delivering that. Within the Prime Video team, they spend hours getting an idea of what the customer wants. I feel we are uniquely positioned to become this aggregator of choice for our partners as well as for our customers,” he said.

Asked about the possibility of seeing live TV channels on Amazon Prime, he explained that two of their partners, Discovery+, Manorama Max and Shorts TV, are broadcasters who are providing their linear channels on the app as well.

Apart from aggregators such as JioTV+, there are content partnerships that allow various services under one roof, for example, Zee5 and ALTBalaji. Many of these platforms do not require the consumers to pay extra monies and rather run on AVOD model.

Asked if the audience would pay anything extra apart from Prime Video subscription, in a market where AVOD-based apps are leading and such partnerships already exist, Divan said, “Prime Video Channels, launched about five years ago in the US, is now available in 11 countries. The kind of response we got from customers has far exceeded our expectations. What drives it is the selection we provide. It is not just one channel we've tied up with. There are multiple premium content partners, and we will continue to add more. If the content is good, we know consumers are happy to pay for it. This is our belief and understanding even from our global launches.”

According to Divan, there is no concern about Prime Video’s original content and brand being overshadowed by other apps. “We've added a lot of content to the Prime Video SVOD catalogue and consumption has only increased. In the last two years, consumption (in terms of viewing hours) has tripled on Prime Video. We feel if we deliver the right content in a convenient manner, customers will engage even more deeply with us over time, and we don't see this as cannibalistic.”

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