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Amazon Prepares to Launch Prime Video in India

The long-awaited launch date for Amazon Prime Video in India is expected to be announced Wednesday in Mumbai.

It had been widely expected that the streaming service would launch at the time of India’s biggest holiday period, the Diwali festival in October, but that did not materialize.

In the meantime, however, Amazon India has been signing deals for existing and yet-to-be-produced films with Bollywood studios Dharma Productions, T-Series and Vishesh Films. Among the films included in the deals are Dharma’s “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil,” Vishesh’s “Jannat” and “Hamari Adhuri Kahaani” (pictured), and T-Series’ “Simran.”

The service is also expected to announce local non-feature film content. A series titled “Power Play,” about illegal betting in cricket, is already in production with Excel Entertainment, though Amazon has not officially confirmed this yet. Another show set in the gang world of small-town north India is expected to begin soon. Amazon executives were busy finalizing deals with a number of local content producers last month at India’s annual Film Bazaar, in Goa.

Amazon Prime Video will be entering a crowded Indian SVOD market with plenty of local competition. Netflix launched in January of this year and, unlike Amazon’s push for populist Bollywood fare, is acquiring films that have been on the festival circuit. More directly competitive with Amazon’s expected programming is Eros International’s Eros Now service, which boasts some 5,000 new and library titles; Viacom 18’s Voot; Star TV India’s Hotstar; and Sony Entertainment Television’s Liv, all of which have significant Bollywood content. Eros Now has 55 million registered subscribers, while Hotstar has a 100 million.

Attending Wednesday’s news conference will be Amit Agarwal, Vice President and Country Head, Amazon India; Tim Leslie, Vice President, Amazon Video International; James Farrell, Head of Content, Amazon Prime Video Asia-Pacific; and Nitesh Kripalani, Director and Country Head, Amazon Prime Video India.

Excel filmmakers Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar will also be present at the event, as will Vikas Bahl and Madhu Mantena from Phantom Films. The first Indian Netflix original series “Sacred Games,” based on the novel by Vikram Chandra, is being produced by Phantom.

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