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Amazon's Jeff Bezos tells Bollywood content is Prime motive

Bezos wants the platform to be all over the world.

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MUMBAI: Jeff Bezos is used to thinking big. He is also used to controversies. So even as his plan to invest a billion dollars in Amazon’s India operation got a lot of press and protests and a snub from commerce minister Piyush Goyal (at a time when the competition commission is investigating "predatory pricing"), the billionaire sat down with Indian superstar Shahrukh Khan and Zoya Akhtar for a half hour tete-a-tete around his prime video service in Mumbai during an event where the crème de la crème of Bollywood was invited.

And what he said must have sent a lot of flutters in the hearts of the creative talent that is seeking to put their films and originals on the Prime Video platform.

“It''s a vehicle to make fantastic content and from a business point of view, it works for us as well. Prime Video is doing well all over the world – Germany, Japan, America, everywhere,” he admitted to Shahrukh. “But nowhere is it doing as well as it is in India where our watch times have grown over six times in two years.”

With that kind of growth, he has been more than encouraged to double down investment in original content. 

“The whole world is witnessing ‘a golden age of television.’ When you look at TV series today, they are really good in terms of quality. They're as good as the very best movies have ever been. And now we're getting the best storytellers and actors to come and do TV,” he disclosed.

"This is one of those businesses where the viewer is always looking for something fresh. And so you can never find a formula because as soon as you find the formula, it's not fresh anymore. So it really takes human ingenuity... I want Amazon Studios to be all over the world."

He further highlighted that he wants Amazon Studios to be "the most talent friendly studio in the world.”

"One of the hardest things that humans do is tell riveting, engaging, inspiring stories. When you get it right, it's a lever that can change the world," he pointed out. 

The Prime Video India team used the ocassion to showcase seven new shows which are to make their debut on the streaming service: "Dilli", "Bandish Bandits", "Paatal Lok", "Gormint", "Mumbai Diaries-26/11", "The Last Hour" and "Sons of Soil- Jaipur Pink Panthers”. Additionally, new seasons of Mirzapur, Four More Shots Please, Breathe, The Family Man, and Inside Edge were also announced.

Prime Video’s original team is headed internationally by James Farell, while Vijay Subramaniam heads the India piece and has been driving most of the shows which have found traction with audiences as well as from critics.

The Prime service is subscription driven and is priced at Rs 999 a year in India promising acess to the streaming service as well as overnight delivery of products from the ecommerce platform. In the US, it’s upwards of $100 a year or $12.99 a month. It has, in recent times, launched a free advertising video on demand service ImdbTV, offering its originals and movies to viewers who don’t mind watching TVCs.

Among those who attended the Mumbai event included: Kamal Haasan, Kabir Khan and his wife Mini Mathur, Farhan Akhtar with Shibhani Dandekar, Ritesh Sidhwani with his wife Dolly, AR Rahman (who later performed), Riteish and Genelia Deshmukh, actor Pankaj Tripathi, Vidya Balan and Siddharth Roy Kapur, Rajkumar Rao, Richa Chadda, Manoj Bajpai, and Vivek Oberoi.

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