Smartphones are good for a great many things, from keeping up with friends on social media to making payments, searching for information online, even playing live casino games. Actually, the latter perfectly sums up what our smartphone-based digital life is about: entertainment, payments, and streaming – players have a chance to follow every move the dealer makes as they make it while keeping things as accessible and user-friendly as only smartphones are capable of.
Now, the Indian streaming ecosystem is becoming larger thanks to Amazon and its upcoming new service called MiniTV. The service is available through the Amazon India app and will be completely free – with ads, that is.
Amazon MiniTV is a free, ad-supported video streaming service available through the Amazon India app. The service made its debut with a strong content library built around web series and comedy shows produced by beloved creators such as Ashish Chanchlani, Amit Bhadana, Round2Hell, Harsh Beniwal, Shruti Arjun Anand, Elvish Yadav, Prajakta Koli, Swagger Sharma, Aakash Gupta and Nishant Tanwar, along with titles produced by TVF and Pocket Aces. Most of the content available through the service was originally developed by MiniTV partners for their own channels or available on other platforms.
The content library currently covers web series and comedy shows, tech news, beauty, fashion, and food – for now, that is. While the company didn’t share any content roadmaps, it promised to update the MiniTV content library with “many more new and exclusive videos” in the near future.
Amazon MiniTV is currently only available in Amazon’s Android app with an iOS and mobile browser-based version also coming.
Not the first
Amazon’s MiniTV is not the retail giant’s first foray into ad-supported online streaming: it also runs IMDb TV, a similar service currently only available in the United States. IMDb TV (then IMDb Freedive) was launched in January 2019 on the IMDb website as well as Amazon’s own Fire devices, and in a few months, it expanded its content library significantly by signing deals with major brands like MGM or Sony Pictures. Last year, Amazon announced that it fused IMDb TV’s content team with Amazon Studios with the goal of developing fresh content for the service – the first result of the collaboration, a reboot of the popular 2008 series Leverage (called “Leverage: Redemption”) is set to be released this June.
Not the only one
Amazon is not the first retailer to deviate from simply selling stuff toward providing shoppers with meaningful content to watch. Flipkart, the eCommerce firm owned by the US-based retail giant Walmart, rolled out an in-app video streaming feature called Flipkart Videos with movies, TV shows, and other long and short-form content made available through it, including short videos that provide users with shopping ideas. Their goal was, admittedly, to attract a brand new segment to its platform – to this end, they worked with hundreds of influencers and dozens of brands to create content for the service.
Focus on streaming
Aside from Amazon MiniTV, the company keeps improving its service offered to Indian users. In January, Amazon partnered with telecom network Airtel to launch a single-user, mobile-only standard-definition streaming plan for only for Rs 89 that includes 6GB of mobile data for 28 days, along with a slightly more expensive (but still very affordable) Rs 299 plan that includes 1.5GB of data per day along with unlimited calls.
Prime Video is among the most popular dedicated video streaming services in India, with a user base exceeding 60 million (compared to Netflix’s 40 million). But the competition between the two arch-rivals is fierce – Netflix recently announced its plans to spend more on locally produced Indian content than it has in the previous two years (around Rs 37 billion or $420 million in 2019 and 2020).
Ad-supported streaming is the future?
While subscription-based video streaming services have a massive footprint around the world – and routinely steal the spotlight – there seems to be a lot of demand for ad-supported alternatives as well, all over the world. And traditional broadcast channels are embracing it to win back the audiences lost to SVOD (subscription-based video on demand) that migrate from traditional channels to digital.
Some streaming services are even adopting a hybrid model merging the ad-supported and subscription-based settings. US-based streaming service Peacock, for example, has a subscription plan that’s significantly cheaper than its “full-featured” offer that comes with ads inserted in the content – the advertising load, in its case, is up to five minutes in each hour of the content streamed.
While subscription-based services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are currently perhaps the most powerful in the streaming market, the numbers show that ad-supported services like The Roku Channel, Hulu, and Pluto TV are beginning to gain momentum – their market share is growing as an ever-increasing number of viewers are migrating away from broadcast TV, embracing the increased flexibility and accessibility of digital channels.