Amazon’s subscription-based video streaming service, Amazon Prime Video has inked an exclusive deal with Only Much Louder to signup 14 comedians managed by the company, reports Huffington Post. According to the report, these videos will 60-80 minutes long with zero censorship and will be shown exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.

The comedians signed up by Amazon include Japan Verma, Sorabh Pant, Kanan Gill, Kenny Sebastian, Zakir Khan, Biswa Kalyan Rath, Naveen Richard, Anuvab Pal, Varun Thakur, Azeem Banatwalla, Neville Shah, Aadar Malik and S Aravind. EIC Outrage special, based on EIC’s EIC Outrage series will also be part of the series. Two videos by Sapan Verma and Sorabh Pant have already gone live on the platform. All these comedians already have a presence on YouTube and Facebook.

It seems that Amazon Prime is ramping up its presence in India especially with original content. The company had announced the launch of Amazon Prime Video in 200 countries including India in December 2016. It is interesting that Amazon has signed up with comedians managed by OML considering that in September 2016, Netflix had announced the launch of original standup comedy series in India with comedian Vir Das. It almost seems like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix are taking sides with artists to strengthen their case in India.

Zero censorship of comedians: For real?

It will be interesting to see how Amazon Prime Video plans to distribute its content with zero censorship for comedians considering that comedians have faced a lot of heat in the recent past. Will making the content exclusive only to subscribers help Amazon with safeguarding the interests of the comedians? In February 2015, a First Information Report (FIR) was filed naming actors Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Sonakshi Sinha, director Karan Johar and 14 others including YouTube for distributing All India Bakchod’s (AIB) Knockout video. It is worth noting that YouTube was mentioned in the FIR though platforms effectively have safe harbour under Section 79 of the IT Act and cannot be held responsible for the content transmitted on it.

The FIR was filed under Sections 292 (Distribution of obscene content or lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest), Section 294 (Obscene Act in public place) of the Indian Penal Code and section 67a of IT Act (Publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form). AIB took down the video following complaint and investigation and also issued an unconditional public apology.

Meanwhile, Prime Video got flak from users as many shows were cut or censored when it was launched last month. Most notably,  Amazon’s flagship show called The Grand Tour that had one of its episodes cut by half since it involves a man driving a car made of animal carcasses including dead cows.

Amazon Prime Video’s developments in India

  • Since the launch of Amazon Prime in India, the company has been adding content into its library by tying up with distributors and content creators. In November 2016, the company had inked an exclusive deal with TV Asahi to stream anime shows – Doraemon, Shin Chan, and Ninja Hattori in India, along with regular updates of the episodes.
  •  In September 2016, Amazon signed a long term agreement with Dharma Productions to stream films and upcoming releases from the production house on Prime Video in India.
  • In the same month, Amazon also signed an exclusive content agreement with T-Series for 17 of its underproduction films.