Walmart Inc’s Indian unit Flipkart is set to roll out a free video service for all of its 160 million customers this month as the ecommerce company looks for new ways to increase its user base in smaller towns and cities, it said on Monday. “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 ecommerce,” a company spokeswoman told Reuters by phone. Flipkart, based in the southern city of Bengaluru, said it would offer movies, short videos and web series on its app, but added it won’t venture into original content right now. Access to affordable smartphones and cheap internet has made India a growth market for online streaming companies. Locked in a pitched battle for market share in the country, ecommerce firms are looking past bigger cities like Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru for the next wave of growth. Flipkart competes with Amazon.com Inc’s Indian unit in the country. Unlike Amazon’s Prime video service, Flipkart won’t charge users for streaming and won’t launch a separate application for these services, the spokeswoman said. “We have rolled out the test in among 1% of our customers currently and plan to take it to 100% of them in the next 20 days,” she added. Bloomberg reported bloom.bg/31mb92q earlier that Flipkart was planning the launch, citing people familiar with the plans. The report said Flipkart would license content from production houses like Walt Disney Co and local studio Balaji Telefilms. Amazon currently charges 999 rupees a year ($14.15), or 129 rupees($1.83) a month, for its Prime membership.
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