Karan Johar & Mike Hopkins discuss Prime Video's content priorities

Karan Johar & Mike Hopkins discuss Prime Video's content priorities

We've also built the world's largest TVOD store: Mike Hopkins.

Karan Johar and Mike Hopkins

Mumbai: At the Prime Video press conference held on 19 March 2024, Karan Johar and Prime Video & Amazon MGM Studios head Mike Hopkins, unveiled insights into the global media business and the thriving Indian content landscape. Amidst discussions on content priorities and exciting future releases, they teased a peek into the world of Fallout, captivating the audience with anticipation.

KJ: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the guiding light of this company and the man who's making Prime Video a daily habit for millions across the world. Head of Prime Video and Amazon MGM Studios Mike Hopkins.

KJ: Mike Welcome back. How does it feel? I know that you've been here, and I speak for all of us here. You’ve been here before to our wonderful city before and to India several times, but how does it feel to be back, and what are you looking forward to most during your time here?

MH: Well, thank you. Thank you. And boy, that was a great introduction. I think if that's the kind of introduction I'm going get next time I come, I'm definitely going to have to come back soon. You had me blushing in the back there. But thank you for  doing this for us today. Appreciate it. I know you're really busy. You've got a lot on your plate. In fact, I've been driving around Mumbai the last couple of days seeing the billboard to our new film coming out so I'm excited to learn more about that while I'm here too.

But, I'm excited to be here. I've been to Mumbai half a dozen times in my career, and what I'm always impressed by is just the energy in India, and it's just buzzing here in Mumbai when you're around town.

I started at Amazon about four years ago, right before the pandemic. And so, what I'm most excited about is being able to spend time with the team in person. You know, I got to introduce myself to everybody via Zoom. Like we were all doing for those years, and it's just taken me a little bit of time to get to Mumbai. So, I'm excited to be here with our talented team and spend time with them. They've done a great job building an incredible service for our customers here in India. I'm also excited to be here because we have a really remarkable technology team here in India. We're going down to Bangalore later this week to spend some time with them. I am so excited to do that. And of course, I'm looking forward to catching up with our storytellers and talent, who make so many fantastic shows and films for us here in India, and thank them for the partnership.

And on top of all of that, I'm really here for the food. You know I am going to definitely return home with a few extra pounds. So, my wife will not be happy with that, but I can't get enough. I can't get enough of it.

KJ: Well, thank you for all of that, Mike, and of course, the food does set us apart from every other cuisine in the world. But I'll leave everyone with that 'food for thought' that this was an incredible lineup that we just saw. I mean, it was just breathtaking. The diversity of content in terms of movies and series and the abundant talent on display were just breathtaking. Congratulations to your spectacular team in India, who have done such an incredible job of pushing boundaries and really taking content to an altogether different level. Prime Video has a huge worldwide business, and it's also more than just a subscription streaming service, as we all know. Can you talk to us and run us through your approach to building what is essentially a global media business?

MH: Yeah, that's right. You know, we definitely have a unique business model here at Amazon. But for our entertainment business, it really does start with Prime. And when you think of Prime, you think of shopping and shipping. Think of music and gaming. We have a reading service and a variety of benefits with that Prime membership, but of course we have Prime Video as well. You know customers can find their favorite movies and series all under one roof with Prime Video, whether you're getting entertainment from Amazon, MGM Studios, our local partnerships, or things we've licensed around the world. We really start with Prime as our base.

But I don't know about you. I've noticed over the last few years that as content has been moving to streaming, it's complicated. People aren't always sure exactly where to go to get that movie, that TV series, or even that sport, depending on where they are in the world. And so one of the things we've spent a lot of time thinking about is how we can put all of that together in one place for customers. Now it's not easy. You know, we haven't succeeded everywhere in the world yet in putting all of their streaming content into one application but we are making a lot of progress. And what I mean by that is that we've approached streamers all over the world to join Prime Video; you can subscribe to them inside of our application. We've also built the world's largest TVOD store, so more people rent and buy movies on Prime Video than any other store in the world. And then, if you're not a subscriber or if you don't want to subscribe to something, We also offer an array of AVOD content where you can watch TV and films without a subscription. We do that for the brand Free V around the world, and here in India, we have Mini TV, which is available on Prime Video and on our retail site. Speaking of Mini TV, our business is doing really well, where we've grown four times in overall watch time since 2023.

KJ: Wow, Mike, if this is what you've done in the last four years, I can't wait to see what happens in the next four or five years. You've been able to literally break through the ceiling of content creation, as well as what's happening at Prime Video. It's just that this is fantastic. And congratulations. This is a huge Herculean achievement, and you can take a lot of credit for that.

MH: It's a huge team effort. We have a lot of great people working here.

KJ: Of course. As you focus on growth, where does India fit into the world of Prime Video?

MH: Well, you know, famously, Jeff Bezos started Amazon in his garage in Seattle, Washington. And, you know, but I think early on, the first leadership team really felt that we were going to be a global company. But when we look at how we're expanding into a new market or with new products, we really try to understand: can we solve customers’s problems? Were we good at something? Can we help solve pain points for customers? And so we really feel that we've started to do that with entertainment. And, so, as we look at the next 250 million subscribers that we're going to acquire, they are definitely going to come from outside of the United States. And we're not going to be able to achieve that unless we do a really good job for customers in India as well. So obviously, India is a key geographic area for us. We also believe in the story of India and the growth that's been happening here over the last several years. In fact, you know, when I think about streaming television and I think of India, what's remarkable is that I've heard many people say this week that more people are streaming TV and film than they're watching it on linear television on satellite cable. And what's remarkable about that is that streaming has only really existed for seven or eight years. So this is all happening remarkably fast. You know, at Amazon. We've used this phrase; it's always Day 1. I mean, it is really Day 1 in streaming in India and around the world. But India is also a content hub. Right? I mean, people have been making great television and film in India, long before a streaming service launched. And so I'm happy to see so many of our creators and talents here today, and we're going to get a preview of a lot of the programming that we had on stage a minute ago.

But we're also an innovation hub. I mentioned before that I'm going down to Bangalore, and I can't wait to get down there and see all the innovations,  they're planning for our servers and our product because, obviously, the programming is super important. And no one's going to open up an application just for the product and the tech that's behind it. But it sure makes it a lot better when the service is easy to use and responsive. And so teams are working hard on that.

You know, for the last several years. We've been making a lot of progress in India, and I just have a couple of stats to just explain how things are going here. The first one is that for the last several years outside of the US, more people have signed up for Prime in India than anywhere else in the world. So think about that. That's pretty good growth.

The other thing about India is that more people sign up for Prime Video here than for any other benefit. So, more people in the world are signing up for Prime in India outside of the US. And Prime Video is the number one reason they sign up in India. The third thing I'll say is that in the last year, India had the highest percentage of Prime members who streamed Prime Video than any other country in the world. So that's why people enjoy Prime Video and Indian teams doing a great job, and I couldn't be more thrilled to be here.

KJ: Congratulations. You mentioned that television was around way before streaming began. And would you say that arguably some of our best content on television was actually way back in the 80s, when we really broke ground, and then, of course, there were different kinds of content that came post that, but I think Prime Video is really pushing the envelope when it comes to long format, storytelling, and new content in terms of the creation of films. And, you know, just basically bringing so much of an entire influx of tremendous talent into the business that even cinema can leverage it and actually become better films.

We just got a sneak peek into all the great content that is going to come to Prime Video over the next couple of years. Prime India, of course, has done a great job with local originals becoming part of pop culture, literally, each moment of the day. We realize that you've touched on this already, but I'm really curious to know how Indian content is being received globally.

MH: It's being received incredibly well. Let me give you a couple of interesting facts. The first one is that in any given week in 2023, Indian content was watched in over 210 countries and territories worldwide on Prime Video. So that's a lot of places watching Indian content. The second thing is that Indian programming trended in the top 10 on Prime Video worldwide for 43 out of the 52 weeks of 2023.

KJ: Wow, that is fantastic.

MH: So, you know, that's important. That's all really important, but we always say, and we know, we make local programming in many countries around the world, but the core tenet for us is that if it doesn't work in the country you're making it, you probably shouldn't be making it. And so that's where we start: how can we still tell authentic stories with creators in the country that resonate with customers in India? If we can do that, and it can work outside of the country. We've really knocked it out of the park.

Shows that are working the best for us, both here and internationally, are Farzi, Indian Police Force, Poacher, The Family Man, Made in Heaven, and many more that resonate all over the world. And so we couldn't be more thrilled with what's going on here. And so do our customers around the globe.

KJ:All the shows you mentioned are household names in our country, and you know, that is something that we're always very proud of as content creators ourselves.

That was enlightening, Mike. Thank you. But before I let you go, one last question for you: What are some of your key content priorities in the near future?

MH: Yeah, we have a lot going on with teams doing a great job not only here in India but back in the States, where we produce a lot of our global programming. You know, today we have over 200 million Prime members around the world in 240 countries. From an Indian perspective, you just saw the incredible lineup that we put together—over 70 shows and films coming over the next couple of years—and you'll get to see a lot of those highlighted today. From a global perspective, We couldn't be more excited to deliver some global tentpole programming this year. We've got the second season of The Lord of the Rings, The Rings of Power, coming this year. We've got another season of The Boys coming. We're super excited about Citadel Honey Bunny, which is a local franchise. Citadel is our global multicountry franchise, and we're doing another one in Italy as well. We also have a fast-growing young adult audience, and we're really focused on that audience because, you know, obviously you're in India as a young country. That's true in many countries around the world. So we've seen success with things like the Summer I Turned Pretty international originals, like My Fault, out of Spain. content like adult animation content, like Invincible and Has Been Hotel. So those are some television series we're really excited about; on the film front, we have two movies that both actually just premiered at South by Southwest last couple of weeks. The first is The Idea of You with Anne Hathaway, and it's actually set a record for the number of streams on a trailer for a streaming film ever. Just this past week, and then we have Roadhouse, the remake of the Patrick Swayze movie, coming in a couple of weeks. So we're excited about those. And just today, when I woke up this morning, I opened up my phone, and I saw that we had just announced, because it was kind of leaked, so you know how that goes. And so it went out today... We just announced an ambitious news show from Mr. Beast with 1,000 contestants vying for a $5 million prize. Mr Beast is aiming to create the largest game show in the history of the world. And we couldn't be more excited. Take that show out, show that format, and supersize it.

And then, we have a really big show that we're super excited about premiering this year called Fallout. This is super special for us, it's based on one of the greatest video games of all time. And so Fallout is the story of the haves and have-nots of the world, in a world where there's really nothing much left to have. The series comes to us from Kilter Films, and executive producers Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy, the creators of Westworld.

KJ: Wow, that's all you left me gobsmacked with all of that. Mike, this is amazing. Thank you for your insights. Thank you for all the valuable information you've shared with us. But I do believe that we're excited about the fact that you have a mega prize up your sleeve. Shall we give all our friends gathered here a peek into the world of Fallout?

MH: Well, you didn't think I'd come all this way alone, did you? So I thought it'd be fun to have you here directly from our characters and lead actress of Fallout.

KJ: Well, we'll have to fall out of here for us to see fall out. Thank you, Mike.