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[LOS ANGELES] Amazon.com Inc is creating a paid video channel called Heera for fans of Indian movies, shows and kids' programming, the latest addition to the online retailer's growing crop of niche and premium online TV networks as its media ambitions grow.
Heera will offer a large library of hit Bollywood films, including Sultan starring Salman Khan, and Fan, starring Shah Rukh Khan, as well as TV programs. Customers who subscribe to Amazon Prime, the US$99-a-year service that includes free two-day delivery and a deep reservoir of US TV shows and movies for streaming, can add Heera for less than US$5 a month, the company said.
The company uses streaming movies and TV shows to entice more customers to subscribe to Prime, whose users spend significantly more money shopping. Amazon funded the production of original series like Transparent and The Man in the High Castle to garner attention for the service, and just received its first Academy Awards for the movies The Salesman and Manchester by the Sea, which will appear on the service later this year.
In late 2015, Seattle-based Amazon began offering paid channels people could add on to Prime, like Showtime and Starz. It now has more than 100 partner channels, including HBO Now. Amazon created Anime Strike, its first internally developed channel, in January. Heera is the second.
With these channels, customers can create their own version of a cable package instead of having to accept dozens or hundreds of channels selected by a cable provider. They still can't get live sports or news, but that may change soon, as Amazon has bid for rights to live sporting events.
Amazon now offers a video service all around the world, including in India, where it has invested in local programming. Heera, with programming made in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Marathi and Bengali, will only be available to Prime members in the US, at least initially.