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December 15, 2016

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Amazon takes on Netflix in videos

AMAZON.COM Inc launched its video-streaming service, Prime Video, in nearly every country except China yesterday, in its biggest challenge yet to Netflix Inc.

Prime Video, home to popular shows such as Jeremy Clarkson’s “The Grand Tour” and transgender comedy “Transparent,” will now be bundled with Prime subscriptions in 19 countries including India, Canada and France.

In other regions, those who want the service will have to pay US$2.99 or 2.99 euros (US$3.18) per month for the first six months, after which the price will be doubled to US$5.99 or 5.99 euros.

Subscriptions for Netflix, whose current hits include original shows “Stranger Things,” “Daredevil” and “Narcos,” start at US$US8.99.

Amazon has been spending heavily, sometimes at the cost of profits, on the creation and marketing of movies and TV shows.

The company hopes that people will sign up for its Prime service to watch these shows — and in turn buy more from its online store to make the annual subscription worth it.

Amazon will continue to focus on producing original content, said Tim Leslie, vice president of Amazon Instant Video, International.

Most of the original shows, including local content, will be made available everywhere, Leslie said.

The success of “The Grand Tour,” a series hosted by former “Top Gear” presenter Clarkson following his departure from the BBC, underscores Amazon’s focus on original content as it takes on video-streaming pioneer Netflix.

Netflix has been successful in luring more subscribers through the popularity of its original shows. The company took its service global in January, rolling it out in more than 130 countries.

Slowing growth in US video subscriptions and rising competition have driven the global expansion of video streaming providers. But as they expand globally, the need for more local content will pose a big challenge.

“We’ve made a big investment in originals in Japan, and we’re doing the same in India,” Leslie said.

Amazon Prime Video members can download movies and TV shows for offline viewing on mobile devices.



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