Amazon Prime Videos zeroes in on comedy as genre pays off in Indian market

With the first season of its comedy talent show Comicstaan still attracting viewers, Amazon Prime Video’s bet on comedy as a content genre is paying off. The service, which was launched in India in December 2016, almost a year after global rival Netflix, says its focus on comedy comes from the agenda of filling gaps in the content market to broaden its user base.


Comicstaan, which debuted on Amazon Prime Video last year and was the service’s first major non-scripted original IP (intellectual property), has announced the second season of the show.


If you lived in a metro like Mumbai, you would not have escaped staring at hoardings advertising the show since Amazon went all out with its marketing for the property. It was not for naught though, since the show went on to attract viewers and helped grow viewership on Amazon Prime Video’s other comedy titles as well.


Vijay Subramaniam, director and head of content, Amazon Prime Video India says, “The launch of Comicstaan gave a big boost to comedy as a genre on our service, as more than 25 per cent users started watching comedy titles.” The consumption on Amazon Prime Video has grown five times in the past two years, with comedy content being consumed in 1,000 towns and cities across India.


Subramaniam sheds some light on what worked in favour of the show when it came to audience acceptance and appreciation. “The format had many things that attracted audiences. For one, it had an element of education in that it explained and explored the various nuances of comedy. People were experiencing the different aspects of comedy but the show told them what was what. The show had something for everyone as it explored different genres within comedy. It also meant that the format was a great leveler since all contestants have to play to their strengths and work on their problem areas.”


Season 2 of the show will follow the same format. Amazon owns the IP for the show, along with its collaboration partner OML, an entertainment agency. Having experienced success with the concept, the show is now being adapted in Tamil. Subramaniam explains that comedy and Comicstaan, specifically, has huge potential for localisation and it is an avenue the platform is keen to consider aggressively for its originals.


Apart from non-scripted content, Amazon has also set goals for its scripted shows as it targets 12 new shows a year by 2020. This year, the service will launch five more shows, having launched Made in Heaven earlier in the year. “This is the year of returning shows for us and it makes me happy. Comicstaan comes back for a second season, as does Inside Edge later this year,” Subramaniam says.


Inside Edge was Amazon Prime Video’s first original fiction show out of India, released in 2017.


In addition to original shows, Amazon Prime Video will continue its strategy for acquired content. While it has renewed output deals with leading Indian film studios, it is now keenly looking at expanding its regional language, as Subramaniam puts it – Indian language, portfolio. Recently, it added a slew of Malayalam, Gujarati, and Punjabi films, and will continue to look at acquiring titles across languages.