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Amazon Unveils Slate of 41 Local Shows and New Rental Service in India, as Regional Battle with Netflix and Disney Heats Up

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Jennifer Salke (R), the head of Amazon Studios along with Indian filmmaker Karan Johar attend an event to announce upcoming Amazon Prime Video series and films in Mumbai on April 28, 2022. (Image credit: SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP via Getty Image)

Amazon has announced a major expansion of its streaming efforts in India, introducing 41 new locally produced original series and movie titles for the region, while also debuting a new transactional VOD service. 

At an event attended by Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke and other Amazon execs and creative partners in Mumbai Thursday, the company also said that it will double its local investment in subscription streaming service Amazon Prime Video, which launched in India five years ago. All told, Amazon has invested more than $6.5 billion in the region to date, the company said.

“In the last five years, we have built a strong slate of locally produced content across languages, super-serving the diverse entertainment needs of Indian customers. With increased access and distribution, we have helped these great stories travel far and wide in India, and around the world,” said Gaurav Gandhi, who heads Amazon Prime Video's presence in India. (Tech Crunch was among those covering Thursday's Mumbai event.)

“India is among Prime Video’s most strategic markets, and the launch of a new movie rental and TVOD service is testament to that,” Amazon said in a statement. 

Amazon charges Prime Video subscribers in India about $1.20 a month. The new transactional service, however, will enable the company to establish price points as high as $6.50 for certain rental titles. 

Also read: Netflix Sees Green Shoots in India

Amazon is among a number of U.S. streaming companies making major investments in India, an "unsaturated" country with 1.38 billion consumers, many of which have yet to purchase their first streaming-enabled smart TV and adopt service. 

Disney purchased local streaming service Hotstar when it bought Fox's entertainment assets three years ago. It now counts Hotstar's 46 million subscribers in the same global bucket that it touts its Disney Plus users. Notably, Hotstar is home to Premier League soccer matches in the region.

Netflix is less further along in the region with only around 4.5 million subscribers. But it announced its own "doubling down" in India earlier this year and has been making noise about Subcontinental expansion on recent earnings reports, where shareholders are more than anxious to hear plans about how growth might be rekindled. 

During last week's otherwise dour Q1 Netflix earnings report, co-CEO, Ted Sarandos, remarked on a recent price cut in India: "The product fit incorporates subscription prices as well as willingness and ability to pay. So we have seen a nice uptick in engagement in India. We are definitely taking it in the right direction."

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!