We want to build technologies that can enable, improve overall experience, says Amazon Prime Video’s VP

Updated - March 09, 2023 10:31 am IST

Published - March 08, 2023 08:48 pm IST - MUMBAI

B.A. Winston

B.A. Winston

Prime Video is investing in technologies apart from content to grow its presence in India including in rural areas said B.A. Winston, vice president, Technology. In a recent interview, he spoke about the company’s tech ambitions, challenges, improve customer experience and innovations. Edited excerpts:

How are you growing in India in terms of technology, including investment? 

We invest in content, but we believe that unless we invest in technology that can power the content, and to stream to our customers devices, it’s not very useful. So, we have a lot of investment in technology and we also want to build technologies that can enable and improve the experience overall, globally. 

We do have network information, country-specific streaming information based on actual streaming data, obviously anonymised, but we use that to build ML-based systems that help us to optimise streaming experience in different countries. 

And that is the way to scale. So, we are investing in those technologies to improve picture quality, to reduce our latency and improve the application experience as well. 

How customers discover content, how they interact and how we make content more discoverable for them is quite different in different places. And based on unique needs within a country, we continue to invest in tech that will help us scales as well as to provide the best experience for our customers within the country. It is an ongoing investment. 

We always say that when it comes to live streaming and also live streaming here in India, that it’s Day 1 for us. We will continue to improve and optimise our experience, introduce new features. Our partnership with AWS has been awesome. 

We have Amazon advertising, Prime Video and AWS, all working together to ensure that we serve our customers here in India.

What is your rural penetration strategy?

While in the last 4-5 years, the country’s streaming industry has been growing at a fast pace, on the back of strong tailwinds like changing consumer habits, ubiquitous availability of smartphones and cheap data, for us to penetrate the rural customer base, we realised the need to adopt a programmatic approach.  To do so, we need high-level optimisation on three key aspects.

First, we want to connect with different carriers in the different states at an optimal location and ensure we have sufficient capacity. We have to plan how we deliver, and we have to estimate how much network capacity is needed at different interconnect points.

For getting to rural India, we need to assess all the interconnect points from our own AWS data centres to the end users’ ISPs. We have dedicated teams who work with network providers across the country to optimise this connectivity or build new capacity when needed. 

In the last few years, we have managed to build great collaboration with various network providers which has helped us enhance our reach tremendously.

Secondly, we know that India has a very diverse set of ISP networks, and each carrier is going to be different, so one cannot assume that all customers will get good Internet connectivity speed. Thus, we work towards optimising our video compression formats for different bit rates and bandwidth conditions.

We evaluate how the perceived picture quality on a particular device even at low bit rate will appear for our customers. By building streaming algorithms that take various network conditions into account, we ensure that we can optimise the streaming in real time. 

Our tech teams ensure that we are delivering a superior experience to our rural customers.

Thirdly, we know that inherently, the Internet faces various challenges such as fiber cuts, wi-fi congestion, or equipment malfunctions on an intermittent basis. 

To deal with this, we optimise our algorithms using ML, for different cellular and network conditions to adapt quickly to changing network conditions. We use ML based optimisations across our chain for the best possible experience. 

These three key optimisations enable us to bring superior quality content and programming to Indian customers.

What is your view about the issue of latency when it comes to live streaming? How is it going to be solved? 

Latency is important challenge for us to solve. We don’t want customers to hear about, say a key moment from their neighbors or on social media. So, this is a complex and interesting challenge to solve. We actually have teams dedicated to bringing down latency and optimising the streaming experience. 

When you think about the streaming industry, there’s a lot of standards, and we while love to use standard based technologies, we are also willing to deviate from a standard and use something different if we have to disrupt and provide a better experience. 

With latency, we have been experimenting with a totally different network protocol. It is not a new protocol, but it’s typically not used in streaming these days; it’s called UDP - User Datagram Protocol and that can provide a way for us to significantly reduce latency while providing high quality streams.

If we think about sports streaming, we want to deliver high picture quality, we want to think about latency and provide a buffering-free experience, while also starting a stream pretty quickly. These are the key pillars of the overall streaming experience.

We need to reduce latency, improve picture quality, start streams faster, and provide a reliable stream. From a tech perspective, that’s challenging. However, I believe we have the right tech foundations to solve for this.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.