As the streaming market becomes more competitive, companies like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon’s Prime Video are investing in large international markets to generate new revenue streams.
India has over 600 million registered internet users, whose daily media consumption is close to six hours per day, which makes it one of the most coveted markets for streaming services thanks to its massive potential for growth and retention.
The only caveat? Indians prefer watching Desi content over worldwide hits—with the global demand for Hindi-language programming being the highest among all non-English content.
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Historically, homegrown platforms like Zee5, Hotstar, Voot, MX Player, and ALT Balaji carried the majority of the market share due to the high demand for their Indian originals. But this year, Prime Video and Netflix made huge strides after releasing a handful of localized content of their own that went on to become hugely popular.
Flip through our gallery below as we look back at some of this year’s biggest Indian streaming moments:
Amazon doubles down on India
According to an industry report, streaming platforms spent close to half a billion USD on original content last year alone—a move primarily led by Prime Video and Netflix as they aimed to outdo their competitors in the Indian streaming wars.
In April this year, Amazon upped the ante by revealing it would be doubling its investment in India over the next five years. The platform also announced the release of 40 new titles in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.
Of these, 26 are new originals and nine are returning original series. This includes the third season of Mirzapur, India’s most in-demand streaming original series of 2021, that’s expected for release in December this year.
Other notable Prime Video releases in 2022 include the second season of Panchayat, the romantic-drama flick Gehraiyaan, a thriller titled Jalsa, and the coming-of-age film Sharmaji Namkeen, which all recorded a viewership of 29.6 million, 25.5 million, 13.9 million, and 12.7 million people, respectively.
On the international content front, Amazon made a significant impact on Indian audiences with season three of The Boys which drew in 9.6 million viewers. Nearly 7.3 million people from India also tuned in to watch the first episode of the highly anticipated Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power—resulting in the Indian market making up 12% of the show’s total global viewership for its premiere.
Along with the announcement that it will be redoubling its efforts in India, 2022 also saw the launch of the Prime Video Store in the region. The video-on-demand service gives Indian viewers early access to a range of local and international movies by allowing them to rent them on a per-movie basis.
With a fully-loaded arsenal of original content lined up, and mass efforts to further invest in the region, we look forward to seeing the impact Amazon makes in India in 2023—especially compared to its arch-rival, Netflix, which is continuing to make waves in the region.
Netflix is the king of the originals
When it comes to original content, no other platform has been able to outperform Netflix. Titles like Stranger Things, Dahmer, Ozark, Cobra Kai, Bridgerton, and Manifest have cemented the streaming giant’s reign as the most-watched platform of 2022—a trend that’s echoed by the Indian market.
According to statistics released by Parrot Analytics, by the first quarter of 2022, Netflix held an impressive 46.1% market share of streaming originals demand in India. This is compared to the 15.9% and 9.4% held by Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ Hotstar, respectively.
While this impressive stake in the market is partly due to popular titles like Stranger Things (whose fourth season drew in an estimated 15.8 million Indian viewers), as well as the others mentioned above, it also has a lot to do with the release of binge-worthy Netflix Indian originals.
Some of these include the second season of the Emmy-award-winning show Delhi Crime, and the action-packed Aranyak that drew in 22.49 million unique views (making it the most-watched show on Netflix in India).
The Indian Predator trilogy docuseries also garnered massive interest among local viewers, as did the movie Dasvi which saw 10.4 million people tune in, Thar which attracted 7.8 million views, and Alia Bhatt’s Darlings which was viewed for 33 million hours—making it one of Netflix’s biggest non-English hits of the year.
Plus, with upcoming films like Monica, O My Darling, and The Ghost already generating huge interest—both being released toward the end of 2022—there’s little doubt that Netflix will retain its top spot when it comes to streaming originals.
Interestingly, in a bid to keep Indian viewers loyal to its platform in 2023 and beyond, and to secure new markets in the region, Netflix is also rumored to be tapping into Tollywood.
According to multiple sources, Netflix has allegedly begun production for at least six original TV shows in Telugu and Tamil. A smart move considering the mounting competition it’s receiving from Amazon and Disney+Hotstar.
Disney+ Hotstar: A juggernaut for Bollywood and Indian sports
Making up roughly 40% of Disney+’s entire subscriber base, with over 50 million Indian subscribers, Disney+ Hotstar is India’s largest streaming platform.
This is primarily due to it owning the 2022 Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket rights, as well as it carrying Disney and HBO originals—such as content from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and House of the Dragon, respectively.
Disney+ Hotstar also exclusively features top Bollywood films and has created a host of viral Indian original content. This includes Rudra: The Edge of Darkness, starring famous Indian actor Ajay Devgn—which became one of the most watched shows of 2022, with 35.2 million views—and the movie A Thursday which recorded 25.5 million views.
Moon Knight, the American miniseries based on the Marvel Comics of the same name, was the most-watched English show on the platform with 23.4 million views.
The series, The Great Indian Murder also pulled in a large audience for Disney+ Hotstar, raking in 23 million unique views. Other popular original shows on the platform in 2022 include: the medical drama, Human, (19.6 million views), and the psychological thrillers, Masoom (16.4 million views) and Escaype Live (16.1 million views).
In terms of original movies, Disney+ Hotstar also didn’t disappoint. Kaun Pravin Tambe? was a big hit for the streaming site, generating 20.2 million views. Brahmāstra Part One: Shiva, which was released in early November, is also proving to be hugely popular thanks to it starring local power couple, Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.
At this year’s D23 global Disney fan event held in Anaheim, Disney+ Hotstar announced it had no plans on slowing down anytime soon. Indian fans can expect a host of new content to hit the platform in 2023, including Mahabharat (based on the mythological epic drama, Mahabharata) and season eight of the super popular talk show, Koffee with Karan.
However, with the platform being forced to share the IPL rights for the 2023 to 2027 cycle with Viacom18 (the platform that scored the exclusive Indian rights to broadcast the 2022 FIFA World Cup) and Times Internet, it will be interesting to see if it can retain enough subscribers with its new, original content. If not, industry experts predict the platform may need to increase its competitive pricing.
Homegrown hits from streaming contenders
Despite their best efforts to release original Indian content in a bid to dominate viewership, it’s worth mentioning that homegrown streaming contenders have been chipping away at Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+ Hostar’s 2022 demand share.
This is largely due to India’s fascination with popular reality shows. These include the 16th season of Colors TV’s Bigg Boss, (the Indian version of Big Brother), SonyLIV’s Shark Tank India, and MX Player’s Lock Upp (a show that sees celebrities locked inside a jail).
MX Player is also home to the thriller, Aashram, whose hugely popular third season generated an impressive 34.3 million registered viewers.
Other noteworthy movie mentions for 2022 include Zee5’s Forensic and Love Hostel, which generated 8.6 million and 7.5 million views, respectively.
However, nothing compares to StarPlus’s Anupamaa which tops the list as the most-watched TV show in India. If you don’t know it, Anupamaa follows the story of an Indian homemaker who struggles with giving up her dreams and ambitions for her family. It’s a remake of the Bengali serial, Sreemo Yee.
This year, the show surpassed the 700-episode mark, generating an incredible 248 million views. To put this into perspective, for every five households in India, 3.2 have watched Aanupamaa—the kind of numbers Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ Hotstar could only wish to achieve in the future with one of their Indian originals.
And, who knows—with demand for original content in India expecting to increase to over 4,000 hours by 2024, maybe those wishes will be granted sooner than we think.