Walmart Is Offering Free Streaming Video in India to Compete With Amazon

By wire service content

Walmart is opening up another front in its battle with Amazon to dominate India’s online market—video.

Flipkart, the massive e-commerce company that Walmart bought last year, will roll out a streaming service to users of its mobile app in the coming weeks, the company said on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

The service, called Flipkart Videos, will feature a “curated range of movies, shows and entertainment series” and will be free.

“We believe that our customers shouldn’t pay extra for premium content and hence our offering is different from anything else that is currently available,” Flipkart said in a statement.

Amazon’s streaming service, which launched in India in 2016, is part of its Prime membership service which costs 129 rupees ($1.80) a month or 999 rupees ($14) a year.

Flipkart will also be going up against big names like Netflix and market leader Hotstar, which is owned by Disney.

Flipkart Videos will not have a separate platform, unlike other streaming services, but will serve content within the company’s mobile shopping app. Flipkart is hoping to turn viewers into shoppers.

“Most consumers’ first touch point with the internet is through online video content, and statistics suggest that video content and entertainment play a key role in bridging the gap for consumers to come online and experience e-commerce,” Flipkart said.

Bangalore-based Flipkart, which Walmart paid $16 billion for a year ago, is counting on the free video offering to help attract its “next 200 million consumers.”

Another move aimed at reaching more people is making Flipkart available in Hindi, India’s most common language and the “mother tongue” of roughly 530 million people, according to the latest census.

The feature will include an “audio visual guided navigation” that will walk Hindi-speaking users through the steps of shopping on its platform via voice inputs, the company said.

Amazon unveiled a Hindi version of its mobile app last year.

Flipkart has a narrow lead over Amazon at the top of India’s e-commerce market, according to recent estimates from research firm Forrester, with less than one percentage point separating the companies.

But Amazon may be making moves of its own to close that gap. The Seattle-based firm is reportedly in talks to buy a stake in India’s biggest retailer, Reliance Retail—a deal that would give it access to nearly 11,000 brick-and-mortar stores across the country.

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