Original Digital Content Creators in India

Original Digital Content Creators in India

Amazon's video streaming service has so far committed at least Rs.500 crore to creating original content in India, outspending its top domestic rivals as it signs up some of the country's most high-profile production houses, reports Times of India. Amazon Prime Video has invested about one-fourth of its Rs 2,000-crore India budget in local production houses, including those of filmmakers Farhan Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap, according to executives at production firms Amazon has been in talks with. That is more than the annual budgets of market leader Hotstar, Eros Now, SonyLiv, Voot and Balaji Telefilm's ALT, according to these executives and analysts tracking India's nascent so-called over-the-top video streaming industry. While ALT's budget for 2017 is about Rs 120 crore, the other providers have allocations under Rs 400 crore each, according to analysts.

Amazon's aggressive spending on original content is expected to give it a firm edge in India over the world's largest online TV network, Netflix, which is focused on streaming global content and Hindi and regional movies here. Amazon Prime Video began streaming in India in December, nearly a year after Netflix launched its local service. "Amazon Prime is definitely giving the best monetary benefits to many of us creatives. Netflix is also paying but there are fewer deals happening where they are concerned," said a film director working with multiple production houses, on condition of anonymity. Amazon Prime Video is estimated to have paid Rs 40 crore to Akhtar and his business partner Ritesh Sidhwani's production house Excel Media and Entertainment, and similar or smaller sums to other digital content players including Kashyap's production house Phantom Films, according to the industry executives ET spoke with.

Overall, the company has signed up at least 15 production houses and digital content creators including All India Bakchod (AIB), Only Much Louder and Big Synergy, these people said. "We are looking at diverse genres. In the long term, our original content will build our brand in India," said Nitesh Kripalani, country head of Amazon Video India. "Our aim is to launch our first India original show by the end of March or early April." Kripalani did not reply to emailed questions on Amazon Prime Video's investments in India.

Eros Now and Star India's Hotstar declined to participate in this report, and SonyLiv could not be reached for comment. ALT, which is set to begin its streaming service this month, is focused on creating regional language content and has eight shows ready. "We have committed Rs 50 crore out of this year's budget toward creating original content and are looking to launch 30-35 shows," said chief executive Nachiket Pantvaidya. "Besides Hindi and English, we have also shot a show in Tamil and one in Punjabi is being shot right now. We have two concepts in Bengali.''

Viacom18's Voot, which began streaming original productions last year, said it gets 5-7 million views for each show. Of its more than 18 million monthly active users, at least 2 million log in daily for 50 minutes of show time, the company said. Despite Amazon Prime Video's aggressive spending, analysts expect domestic services to continue to invest on creating original content for the next few years until a few begin to dominate the market. Domestic video streaming services "will have the appetite to sustain losses for two to three years, after which the bosses will start asking budget questions and then you will see a shakeout", said Jehil Thakkar, media and entertainment head at KPMG. Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device.

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