The past year has seen Netflix and main rival Amazon Prime launch their OTT services in India. Netflix launched on January 6th at 500 Rupees per month (about $7.50). Amazon Prime’s video service launched only a week ago, on December 14th, at 499 Rupees per month.
And now the battles have started. Both operators are spending hard cash on original content, and are marketing and promoting their services aggressively.
Netflix has announced what some claim is a slam-dunk win in terms of talent, by signing Bollywood heart-throb Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment (RCE). As part of the deal, new films starring Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan will be exclusively available to more than 86 million Netflix members globally.
The agreement between Netflix and RCE will also give Netflix subscribers in India and globally VoD access to dozens of RCE films, along with new films that will hit Indian theatres within the next three years. Netflix said that this association marks the beginning of a long-term relationship between both companies and the first of its kind with any Indian film production company.
“Shah Rukh Khan is the most sought-after actor in the Indian film industry, and has played a huge role in bringing Indian cinema to the world stage. His moniker ‘King Khan’ speaks to his status as a cultural icon and to the incredible popularity of his films among audiences worldwide,” said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix.
In his remarks, Shah Rukh Khan said: “Red Chillies is surging ahead in global entertainment and for the first time, our great stories are going global on Netflix all at once and crossing all geographical barriers, waiting to be discovered over the world. No more waiting for our fans wherever they are”.
Amazon Prime’s video service is equally aggressive, and has signed exclusive content in a number of key Indian languages (Hindi, Tamil, Marathi and Bengali). James Farrell, the head of content at Amazon Prime APAC, said: “For now, the number of international shows will be slightly greater than the ones produced in India. As we get into this, the ratio of Indian content will get higher and higher. After the US and Japan, India is the third country wherein we are betting high”.
Nitesh Kripalani, the director and country head of Amazon Video India, said: “Sports is important for India and we will evaluate it. We will let you know as we decide on sports”.