Amazon Prime is betting big on regional languages

Vishnu Varma
Mohanlal’s Lucifer is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Sensing strong adoption of regional content including Malayalam movies and music by users, Amazon Prime is betting big on regional selections on its streaming platform, the e-commerce company’s head of member growth and engagement said on Tuesday.

In an interaction with media in Kochi, Subbu Palaniappan, who heads the member growth and engagement at Amazon Prime in India, underlined that the company recognizes the potential in bringing to users a wide array of exciting regional content including original programming.

"The entertainment industry in Kerala is great and there is good content. We are seeing strong adoption of Malayalam movies even by a non-Kerala audience. In general, southern languages have seen strong adoption. Therefore, we are focusing on original content in regional languages," Palaniappan said.

Last week, Lucifer, the first Malayalam film to earn Rs 200 crores at the box office, began streaming on Amazon Prime Video within 50 days of its release. The Mohanlal-starrer, directed by actor Prithviraj Sukumaran, is the highest-grossing Malayalam film ever.

While Palaniappan declined to share Amazon Prime membership figures in the state, he said Kerala ranks among the fastest-growing markets for the company. For people in the state who use Prime membership for online shopping, some of the popular categories they opt for include apparel, beauty, health and personal care. There are 7000 online retail sellers in the state out of which 2000 sellers are based in the Ernakulam region in central Kerala, the company said.

"Apart from tier-I cities like Kochi and Trivandrum, people in smaller towns like Idukki, Malappuram, Palakkad and Kollam are also using Prime membership for shopping and entertainment benefits," he said.

The Prime membership, available at an annual plan of Rs 999 and a monthly plan of Rs 129, includes free and fast delivery for shopping, exclusive access during online sales festivals and unlimited video streaming among other benefits.

In India, Amazon Prime Video is locked in a tough competition with home-grown streaming services like Hotstar and JioTV. In fact, a survey conducted by Delhi-based market intelligence firm Kalagato in 2018 showed that Prime lags way behind Hotstar and JioTV in terms of usage and memberships. Between June and November 2018, when over 45% of the country’s smartphone users had the Hotstar app installed, just over 10% had Amazon Prime Video.