Audience open to stories that push imagination: Amazon Prime Video's Vijay Subramaniam

Amazon Prime Video looks at having 10-12 originals in 2020


MUMBAI: The steaming boom in India has unleashed the creativity of storytellers across the country. While several barriers to freedom of storytelling have disappeared with the entry of the over-the-top (OTT) platforms, a considerable expansion in content themes is noticeable too. Hence, streaming services have led to an evolution in consumers’ content preference and taste along with their viewing habit. Amazon Prime Video India content director and head Vijay Subramaniam says on a happy note that people are definitely open to stories that push their imagination.

“Everybody is hungry for a compelling fresh take on stories. People are definitely open to stories that push their imagination, that are smart, that are authentic. These are things that people really care about. You look at the success of Four More Shots Please, truly authentic, feminine gaze about women, unashamedly front and center. So I think it's great validation and understanding that customers are open and keen on embracing this kind of story,” Subramaniam shares during a conversation.

Subramaniam says that 2019 was mounting in terms of film content too as there were lots of big films, in the various languages, not just in Hindi. He also adds that it’s very encouraging to see creators and producers getting more ambitious with the kind of stories they want to tell cinematically, and that's good for customers, whether they are watching it in theatres or own devices. He thinks it is equally encouraging to see high concept stories winning the other end of the spectrum which allows producers to think on both ends of the spectrum.

“2019 was interesting (for Amazon Prime Video). The ramping up content takes some time and I think in 2019, we were able to come close to a full suite when it came to our films. We will be committed to expanding the overall coverage by adding four more Indian languages Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati and Punjabi. I think our selection in the film when it came to Hindi, Tamil, Telugu besides Hollywood, we were able to take it up a few notches whilst getting started on the other four languages,” he comments.

He also mentions that it was the first year for Amazon Prime Video India to put returning seasons of the shows including Comicstaan Season Two and Inside Edge season Two. The returning seasons and putting up content more frequently helped in lot of learnings. According to him, 2019 has prepped them well for next few years and helped them to improve some of the processes including how they go about bringing content to customers, marketing along with other elements.

Talking about the challenges, he says that creatively still the amount of time it takes to bring a good show together remains. While he also mentions there is no shortcut for that, he adds that as people get better with craft and the whole framework of long-form, they will be able to generate things faster. They are also ramping up the content in development on their side, so the pipeline becomes fatter and content cones quicker.

“I think, from an expansion standpoint, some of the languages we'd like to do a lot more in, is constrained by the, the dynamics of the marketplace, there's just not enough high quality content to go and acquire. And that remains, I mean, but that's also descriptive of the nature of that local market. That's something that will evolve as we show more interest and I am pretty hopeful more creators will step forward,” he adds.

“Customers today have their specific interests. And alongside those specific interests, they have this large overlapping interest as well. So they detach when it when they need to go to their specific interest. And they reconnect when it when the interest are common. So when it comes to stand up comedy, young adults love, they have their own  different flavors, but all of them congregate to watch Family Man or War because it's broadly appealing. So it's very interesting to see that and therefore, it's important to make sure that the Thali (content slate) has enough variety in it, but at the same time that it's not for the sake of it, but because people actually have different tastes while there is something right in the middle, which is the main-course,” he brings up one of the interesting leanings from the last year.

Amazon Prime Video is expected to release 10-12 originals in 2020. Moreover, Subramaniam says that they will continue to grow the platform’s language selection. The platform will ramp up its language catalogue in Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati and Punjabi while they want to take up Tamil, Telugu further a few notches. The platform looks at going deeper across its content verticals whether it's films, originals or stand up comedy.  The platform promises to stay committed to continuously improving the overall customer experience including product, content, UX, UI.

“I think for us from a content lens, it's important to continue to look at India with all of its diversity , the Indianness, the local language elements whilst telling stories that continue to, you know, remain in different spaces, bringing people together,” he states. 

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