By: Yohan P Chawla
It’s raining originals.
Adding one more show to their original content kitty, Amazon Prime Video is all set to launch Mirzapur. The show revolves around drugs, guns and the politics of power in a land where might is right. All episodes will be made available by Amazon for binge watching across 200 countries around the world, from tomorrow, 16th November, 2018.
Mirzapur’s trailer, which has already created the all-important buzz before the big release, has garnered more than 5.5 million views on YouTube. Going by the trailer, Mirzapur promises to be another show that’ll have us at the edge of the seat. And that seems to be the genre that Amazon is focusing on, going by the fact that their previous Hindi originals included Inside Edge and Breathe.
The first season consists of nine episodes. Mirzapur has been produced by Excel Entertainment of Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani which, incidentally, also produced of Amazon Prime Video’s previous original series, Inside Edge, which did fairly well for the streaming service.
The cast of the show includes PankajTripathi, Ali Fazal, Vikrant Massey, Divyenndu, KulbhushanKharbanda, ShwetaTripathi, ShriyaPilgaonkar, RasikaDugal and Amit Sial, amongst others.
The makers have already confirmed Mirzapur’s extension for another season.
I caught up with Vijay Subramaniam, Director and Head, Content, Amazon Prime Video India, at Mirzapur’s launch event, where he spoke of several aspects like the customer insights, content variety, the use of movies fora pull strategy for originals, the regional approach of Amazon Prime Video in India.
Amazon Prime Video’s Customer Insights
Sharing customer insights Subramaniam said, “Our audience is constantly evolving in their tastes and preferences, when it comes to the kind of stories they want to watch. We need to go on that process and the journey with them. As long as we are doing this consistently, customers will see value in what we are doing.”
Breaking down the likes and preferences of the Indian audience, Subramaniam said, “Today on Prime Video, about 70% of content is local, which already is an indicator of what customers want. Beyond that everything depends from show to show, genre to genre and environment to environment. For example, people love watching Raazi, as well as they love watching Comicstaan. The customer on Prime Video is truly liberated because he, is his own programmer. We are not putting something at a point in time that he has to watch. He can make those choices entirely by himself.”
Amazon Prime Video’s Regional Approach
On their regional approach, Subramaniam said, “English is just one language which Indians speak. Indians are beautifully multi-lingual. To be able to deliver value to customers it is really important to recognize the diversity of the fact that customers are multi-lingual and the key choices of tastes and preferences of their entertainment are made on their language of comfort.”
“When we launched Amazon Prime Video, it was predominantly in English and Hindi, but we quickly doubled down to Tamil, Telegu, Marathi and Bengali. We started with films in these languages. We have just added Kannada to our language options from the 1st November, 2018. We are definitely looking to add more regional languages in the next 12 to 18 months.” Subramaniam said, elaborating on their regional plans.
Using movies as a pull strategy for Originals
Movies act as the magnet for a new customer. Subramaniam said, “When we offer a new language, we know that customers come to search for movies, so we make sure that the best movies are available for them. Now, we are really drilling deep. When we have the understanding of their tastes of preferences, we start looking at ways to engage them with other forms of content, including originals.”
Variety of Content
Subramaniam explained Amazon’s strategy of providing its customers with different variety in content. He said, “We want to give shows that are of variety. We gave you Inside Edge, which was glitzy, glamorous, shiny and urban. Now we present to you Mirzapur, which is really heartland, gritty and earthy.”
The OTT platform has planned to come out with 9 originals in the next year and is satisfied with the current subscription cost of INR 129 a month.
“We have more shows like 4 More Shots Please which is really urban, female and slice of life. And finally we have Made in Heaven which is really high society and weddings. Being able to knock on all these doors and hit all those notes is very important.”
It wasn’t surprising to see Subramaniam’s confidence when he said, “Mirzapur is engaging and will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. I am confident that the show will do exceptionally well, not only in India but also in the international markets as well.”
With just one day left for the release, one doesn’t expect anything less than the bombarding of mirzapur across multiple social media platforms.
Among all major OTT players constantly creating original content, what remains to be seen is how Mirzapur would help Amazon Prime Video in the original content race.
Given that Amazon Prime Video pulls out all stops and usually drives its marketing through large OOH exposure across peak-drive routes in the major cities — which are also the biggest urban markets for both, OTT platforms and traditional television — Mirzapur should race off the blocks. Thereafter, of course, as with movies, it will be all about the quality and stickiness of the content. Having said that, one feels Mirzapur’s mix of hardcore action, drama, performances and realistic earthy dialogue plus the slick editing will make it a sticky offering.
Considering Netflix recently announced the launch of 8 new original films and 1 new original series for India, and Amazon Prime too has been keeping up the content pressure, the Indian consumer will be spoilt for choice. The explosion in content consumption on OTT is definitely also a boon for the mobile telephony and internet providers, but we’ll examine that in another story.