'Once you’re used to being able to go right from one episode to the next, you’re permanently spoiled'
Amazon Prime Video has seen some exciting new recent launches – The Remix and Breathe – very different genres but just as exciting. The first one Inside Edge was also a runaway hit. How difficult/easy was it to crack the content code for India – considering the numerous languages we speak, the varied demography and hence, the various tastes?
Ha, well I certainly wouldn’t be so bold as to say we’ve cracked the code. We started out with a simple premise: Our customers in India love movies. If we could produce TV series at movie-level qualities with movie-level talent a lot of our customers would probably be interested. We’ve been lucky that the first 3 series you mentioned have all done exceptionally well, and as I watch the first cuts of series like Mirzapur, Made in Heaven and Forgotten Army - the bar is only going up from here.
Have you managed to catch any Indian shows – if yes which ones and why? Otherwise, which is the one show on Prime that is your personal favourite?
Of course I watch all our shows, but other than that I have to admit that I’m more of a fan of Indian films than I am of Indian TV. Two of my favorite films are Airlift and Baby, and we worked with the producer of those films on Breathe. He and his team are real pros.
How has your India visit been thus far? Any lasting impressions on the manner in which digital entertainment is changing the way India consumes content?
I’ve been very lucky to spend a couple hundred days in India these last few years. I really love the place and am sure I will continue visiting for the rest of my life. I told a story during a speech at the India Conclave a couple weeks ago that best answers your question. Paraphrasing it here: “Every time I come to India I ask the drivers, hotel workers, waiters, etc. who their favorite movie star is. This time my driver told me 'Salman Khan.' I asked him if he’s seen Tiger Zinda Hai. He said “no”. I asked how he was planning on watching it. He said: “Oh it’ll probably be on Amazon soon.” That was a big moment for me. It was the first time a regular non-film industry person referenced our service. It told me that the landscape is indeed changing.
Not sure how many places you have visited in India – have you managed to sneak in some time for tourism? If yes, which place and if no, is India on your tour diary?
So far most of my time has been in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai. I’ve heard Rajasthan and other places up north are beautiful. My wife is very jealous of all the time I spend in India though, so she’s made me promise not to go up north until she has enough free time to come with me. At least that way we can go for the first time together.
What is your take on binge watching? Does that almost immersive experience of watching shows convert people into binge watchers?
It does get pretty addictive.Once you’re used to not watching ads and being able to go right from one episode to the next, you’re permanently spoiled. I have a lot of long flights in my job. Not sure what I would do without Prime Video’s download feature! :-)