Netflix steps up its battle with Amazon in India

5 stunning stats about Netflix
5 stunning stats about Netflix

Netflix is stepping up its battle with Amazon for supremacy in India.

The online streaming service has announced two new original TV shows for the Indian market, part of its effort to cater to local viewers.

"We are excited to be expanding our slate of originals in India," Erik Barmack, the vice president of international original series at Netflix, said in a statement. "These projects have specifically local subjects, but will be great for our global audience."

One of the new series, "Again", has been described as a "supernatural female-led detective series set in New Delhi." It will be written by Marisha Mukherjee, who has also worked on ABC's hit series "Quantico."

The second original, "Selection Day," is based on a novel about cricket by Aravind Adiga, who was awarded the Man Booker Prize in 2008 for his book "The White Tiger."

Cricket has become something of a theme for the streaming services. It's also the focus of Amazon's latest original series, "Inside Edge," which released last month on the company's Prime Video platform and has already become the company's most-watched show in India.

The Seattle-based e-commerce giant went local immediately following the introduction of Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) Prime Video in India, announcing plans last December to produce over a dozen Indian original shows.

Related: Amazon's new strategy for India -- Prime Day deals and food

Netflix (NFLX, Tech30), meanwhile, has relied more heavily on its existing original content -- including hugely popular series like "House of Cards" and "Narcos" -- to drum up more business in India. Before this week's announcement, it only had one Indian original show on its roster.

Both companies also feature several Bollywood movies, as well as regional and independent content.

India's growing stand-up comedy scene has become another battleground for Amazon and Netflix in the country.

Amazon Prime Video announced in January that it would feature stand-up specials by 14 of India's top comedians, a move seen as giving it a significant edge over Netflix and Indian streaming rival Hotstar.

But the move also prompted a backlash, with critics pointing out that all the comedians Amazon signed were men.

Netflix announced a few months later that it would feature a standup special by Aditi Mittal, one of the most prominent women on India's comedy circuit.

The companies' tussle for Indian audiences is unlikely to end anytime soon. The South Asian nation has around 400 million internet users -- a number projected to nearly double over the next five years.

Related: How Google plans to get a billion new users

Amazon -- which has pledged to invest $5 billion into its Indian business -- has another significant advantage among price-conscious Indian consumers. Its Prime Video subscription in the country only costs 500 rupees ($8) a year, while Netflix charges the same amount for a month.

But Netflix isn't giving up on India anytime soon. CEO Reed Hastings, who made his first visit to India in March, has announced partnerships with several Indian television providers and promised Netflix would focus on making its Indian service "better in every dimension" in 2017.

"We are really only at the beginning of our journey here in India," Hastings said.

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