In late May, some employees of Amazon India were offered a $25 gift card in exchange for testing a new service. Not uncommon in the offices of the global tech behemoth, but the results of this test potentially hold broader ramifications for India’s multi-billion-dollar streaming industry. 

The employees got an early sneak-peek into Prime Video Channels India. It’s an upcoming marketplace within Amazon’s Prime Video streaming app that’ll allow users to buy monthly subscriptions of third-party OTT OTT An over-the-top media service is a media service offered directly to viewers via the Internet. OTT bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms, the types of companies which traditionally act as controllers or distributors of such content. Over-the-top services. 

Channels is weeks away from launching in India, according to internal documents reviewed by The Ken. Amazon has signed up homegrown and international OTT platforms, including Voot Select, Eros Now, Lionsgate Play, Hoichoi, Mubi, Docubay, ShortsTV, Hayu, and ManoramaMax, among its early partners. 

The platforms have uploaded at least 70,000 hours of programming content in total on AWS AWS Amazon Web Services Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform, offering over 200 fully featured services from data centers globally. Millions of customers—including the fastest-growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies—are using AWS to lower costs, become more agile, and innovate faster. servers. Each channel, as Amazon calls it, will be an add-on to the Prime subscription, which costs Rs 999 per year and covers everything from free, fast delivery to video and music streaming. 

The channels will pay at least a 30% commission to Amazon for every subscription generated from the service. It’s not clear yet whether Prime users will get a discount on the third-party subscriptions. But Amazon is hoping Prime subscribers will nonetheless find value in having a one-stop shop for all their OTT subscriptions.

It’s a strategy that has worked in markets like the United States, where Amazon debuted Channels in late 2015, before taking it to countries like the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany. Channels is estimated to have raked in $3.6 billion in revenue last year alone, according to an early projection by brokerage firm BMO Capital Markets in 2018, pre-pandemic. Amazon India did not respond to The Ken’s questions regarding the launch of Channels, saying it can’t comment on “speculation”.

For Amazon, the advantages are clear. It can not only make Prime customers shell out extra without really investing in new content, but also learn even more about their viewing habits.