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Netflix goes up against Amazon Prime with Shah Rukh Khan on its side


Even as film buffs celebrate the arrival of Amazon Prime video, major competitor Netflix has announced a deal with Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment. 

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Shriram Iyengar

Few know the intricacies of the cinema business like Shah Rukh Khan. The recent tie-up between the superstar and video content company, Netflix, is one heck of a business decision. On the same day as Amazon released its Amazon Prime Videos in India, the news arrives that Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment have signed a contract deal with Netflix entertainment. Netflix even put out a stylish video to celebrate the announcement. 

The deal with Netflix will ensure that Khan's current and upcoming films will be aired on the service online. The long-term contract offers Khan the advantage of having his films available to an audience of 86 million online viewers. In addition, Netflix users will also have the choice of an exclusive subscription to films produced by Red Chillies Entertainment. 

In a report online, Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content creator was quoted as saying, "Shah Rukh Khan is the most sought-after actor in the Indian film industry, and has played a huge role in bringing Indian cinema to the world stage."

In an official statement, Khan said, "Red Chillies is surging ahead in global entertainment and for the first time, our great stories are going global on Netflix all at once and crossing all geographical barriers, waiting to be discovered over the world. No more waiting for our fans, wherever they are." 

The first film expected to release on the service is Gauri Shinde's recent project with Khan and Alia Bhatt, Dear Zindagi. Other films expected to be available to users are Happy New Year (2015), and Om Shanti Om (2007). 

Meanwhile, Netflix's competitors, Amazon launched the Amazon Prime Videos with a collection of nine original titles from India. In the build up to the launch, Amazon had announced tie ups with other major productions like Karan Johar's Dharma Productions, T-Series and SS Rajamouli's Arka Mediaworks for the Prime Video section. 

James Farell, head of content, Asia-Pacific, Amazon Prime and Amazon Studios, was quoted in an online business website saying, "After the U.S. and Japan, India is a focus market in terms of content creation. While preparing for the launch, we realised that while there is an appetite for international library and original content (already available on Prime), Indian viewers also have an appetite for good local content. So, we went ahead and collaborated with a range of Indian talent to create the original shows." 

It looks like the Indian film industry is the new battleground for online bigwigs.