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Analysis for 'Amazon'

  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Why Has Apple Been Surpassed By Amazon in CTV?

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    On this week’s podcast Colin and I discuss why Apple has been surpassed by Amazon in CTV and streaming video. As Colin articulates very well in “Five ways Amazon is Crushing Apple in the CTV Market” earlier this week, Apple was early to market with its Apple TV CTV device (albeit at the very high price point of $299), and was also the dominant player in movie and TV show rentals and purchases with iTunes not that long ago. But major product strategy mistakes and decisions by Apple, combined with deft, low margin and user-friendly moves by Amazon have led the two companies’ positions in these critical markets to completely reverse themselves. With this new normal, what lies ahead?

    One big measure Apple has taken to try course correcting has been the launch of Apple TV+. We start this week’s podcast by understanding why Apple is spending so heavily on original TV shows for the service, which it is expected to spend $500 million marketing in 2022. A new analysis by the WSJ illuminates Apple’s heavy product placement agenda, in support of ecosystem loyalty and core device sales. As I explain, this strategy - along with Amazon’s - has potentially big implications for established and newer media companies still reliant on traditional advertising and subscription revenue models.

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  • Apple’s Product Placements in Its Originals Reveal Commerce Agenda and Shifting Industry Leverage

    Ever since Apple started ramping up its investments in original programming there has been lots of speculation about the company’s true motivation for the initiative. Keep up with the competition? Drive more “services” revenues? Burnish its brand? Ensure executives have tickets to award shows and after parties? All of the above? None of the above? Something else?

    The most accurate motivation is likely to keep viewers loyal to Apple’s ecosystem and thereby sell more Apple products to them. That’s the conclusion from a compelling new analysis by Kenny Wassus, senior video journalist at the Wall Street Journal, explained in a 7 minute video (see embedded below). Wassus studied which Apple products appeared and how often in five Apple originals, “Defending Jacob,” “The Morning Show,” “Mythic Quest,” “Ted Lasso” and “Trying.” He watched a total of 74 episodes, totaling over 2,600 minutes, logging every Apple product placement.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Does it Really Make Sense for AMC+ to Partner With Amazon Channels?

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    On this week’s podcast we dig into my post from earlier this week about my experience starting a 7-day free trial to the SVOD service AMC+ using Amazon Channels. I did this in order to watch the movie “A Few Good Men” with extended family last weekend.

    While the sign-up process was very easy, the issue is that neither AMC+ nor Amazon has done anything to try converting me from trial to paid subscriber by explaining the service’s content value. In fact, when I tried cancelling the first time, they did the opposite, offering me a new discount if I stayed on for another two months.

    Colin and I explore the bind that small to mid-size SVOD services find themselves in with Amazon Channels and other big platforms. On the one hand, the platforms are huge potential sources of trial subscribers. On the other hand, if the SVOD service has virtually no insight about their trial subscribers, can’t connect with them to directly promote content and the platform itself does nothing to convert subscribers from trial, is there really any long-term value being created for the SVOD service, or is it just churning through viewers?

    These are tricky questions without clear answers. But they have huge implications for SVOD services and the platforms going forward. Learn more now!

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  • AMC+ on Amazon Channels Highlights Challenges of Third-Party SVOD Distribution

    VideoNuze readers know that I’ve long been bullish on Amazon Channels, the program Amazon provides to distribute SVOD services. Amazon offers these services access to its massive audience and comprehensive delivery infrastructure, while retaining a share of the monthly subscription revenue for itself. For SVOD services, Amazon Channels is an attractive and highly tempting way to quickly scale up their subscriber base. For Amazon, it’s yet another way to bolster its presence in the media business, generate high-margin revenue and leverage its reach and tech capabilities.

    But an experience I’ve had over the past few days has highlighted the execution challenges SVOD services encounter when partnering with Amazon Channels and more broadly, the downside of third-party distributor relationships at a time when building direct-to-consumer bonds is more important than ever.

    On the last night of vacation this past Friday with extended family, we decided to watch “A Few Good Men” after dinner. A quick search revealed it was available on AMC+ which itself could be subscribed to either directly or through Amazon Channels. I chose the latter route (why not, Amazon already has my credit card, etc.). With a couple clicks on the Roku TV, I started my 7-day free trial to AMC+ and we were watching the movie. Easy, easy.

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  • If the FTC Challenges Amazon-MGM Deal It is Unlikely to Succeed

    The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the FTC will be the agency to review Amazon’s acquisition of MGM. A review was expected, either by the Justice Department or the FTC. The plot thickener here is that the brand new FTC chair is Lina Khan, a law professor and journalist who was confirmed by the Senate last week in a bipartisan 69-29 vote. Importantly Khan is a critic of Amazon and Big Tech, having written a widely circulated article, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” in 2017.

    The article argues, in a nutshell, that the current approach to antitrust, which is focused on “consumer welfare,” is insufficient to oversee platform-based businesses like Amazon which can use predatory pricing for their overall competitive benefit. Rather, Khan believes that antitrust oversight needs to be driven by gauging the concentration of market structures and competitive process, which she writes is a more traditional approach. Khan shares five factors for how to evaluate the competitive process.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Making Sense of Amazon-MGM

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’a Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    After weeks of rumors, Amazon officially announced its acquisition of MGM for $8.45 billion. On this week’s podcast Colin and I explore what the deal means to Amazon and to its Prime members. Colin sees benefits to Amazon beyond bolstering Prime member retention and acquisition, whereas I think these are the deal’s primary rationale.

    Nearly five years ago, Jeff Bezos articulated the “flywheel” dynamic of Prime - how video contributes to member acquisition, usage and retention (jump to the 37 minute point in the video interview). I’m guessing that Amazon did extensive consumer research on different parts of the MGM massive catalog to understand how filtering them into Prime could move the membership needle.

    While the James Bond franchise has received a lot of attention, the MGM catalog includes 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV show. These, plus the potential spinoffs or as Amazon’s Mike Hopkins put it - “the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine” - give Amazon a huge amount of programming optionality for years into the future. It will be fun to see how Amazon curates all of this programming into Prime.

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  • Streaming Services Emphasize Reach to 18-49 Year Old Viewers

    If you were one of the 14,000 attendees of last week’s NewFronts presentations, a central message that you couldn’t miss was that streaming has become an essential way for advertisers to reach 18-49 year olds. The coveted age group, which has long been the bread and butter for TV networks, is rapidly shifting its video consumption behaviors, and NewFronts presenters wanted ad buyers to know that they can either follow the eyeballs or risk losing access to this huge cohort.

    Presenters expressed the message in different ways, but here are a few that caught my attention:

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  • Streaming is Driving Renewed Interest in Content/Commerce Intersection

    Content being used to drive consumer purchases isn’t a new idea, but streaming is breathing renewed interest, with a variety of different strategies and implementations. A number of interviews and articles illustrating the trend have recently caught my attention.

    Given its commerce, content and technology capabilities, Amazon is primed (pun intended) to be a major player. In an interview at IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting a couple of weeks ago, Amazon Studios’ COO and Co-Head of Television Albert Cheng talked at length about how the company is using its Prime Video app on certain connected devices, along with its “X-ray” feature, to enable seamless viewer transactions. Albert highlighted successes the company has had with Rihanna’s “Savage x Fenty,” Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn’s “Making the Cut” and NFL Thursday Night Football.

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  • Research: 109.1 Million CTV Devices Sold Globally in Q4 ’20

    A record 109.1 million connected TV devices (smart TVs, streaming sticks and boxes, and game consoles) were sold globally in Q4 ’20, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. That was up 9% from the 100.3 million CTV devices sold in Q4, ’19 and up 34% from the 81.5 million sold in Q3 ’20. Amazon led with 12.1% market share for the first time, edging out Samsung, which fell to second with 10.9% share. Following Samsung were Sony (8.2%), Nintendo (7.7%), LG (5.9%) and Roku (5.8%).

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #522: Linear TV Adapts with New Distribution Models

    I’m pleased to present the 522nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. For all our listeners especially in states seeing a spike in Covid, we hope you’re staying safe.

    There were several examples this week of how linear TV is continuing to adapt in the OTT/CTV era which Colin and I discuss. Top on the list is Comcast’s decision to offer the Sling TV app for its Xfinity Flex broadband-only users. Comcast has been adding broadband subscribers and losing video subscribers for a while and the move seems to signal Comcast wants to enhance the competitiveness of Flex, giving cord-cutters an inexpensive option to rejoin the pay-TV world.

    The bar for Flex is getting higher partly due to Fire TV which this week unveiled content discovery integrations with YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV and Sling TV. The integrations make accessing linear TV seamless within one UI, and will drive virtual pay-TV subscriptions within the Fire TV base.

    Listen in to learn more about how linear and “virtual linear” TV are adapting to find viewers!
     
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  • Perspective What's this? Free Ad-Based Streaming TV on Connected TVs: Curb Your Enthusiasm

    I’m bullish on ad-based free streaming channels on Connected TVs. eMarketer projected the CTV ad market would grow to $14B in 2023, double the 2019 figure. Why is the Free Ad-based Streaming TV market, or FAST, so hot?

    Because after a decade of flubs by TV OEMs, they’ve finally nailed it. Many licensed Roku. Others, Android TV. Samsung iterated to get steadily better. LG’s Web OS was good from the get-go. And Vizio’s revamped SmartCast gained accolades at CES. This is in addition to the blockbuster success of OTT set-tops like Roku and Fire TV. Another factor? The rapidly maturing live linear streaming tech stack. It is far less glitchy and buffery than a year ago even, and costs are dropping.

    It adds up. Unboxing a TV is a new game. Just connect to Wi-fi and watch hundreds of free channels of news, sports and entertainment within seconds. No roof climbing. No scanning. No input switching. No cable guy.

    And more are coming. The Consumer Technology Association projected 41 million new TVs will be shipped in the US this year. Nielsen says we have 120 million homes. Just spit-balling here, but every three years we’re sending another new TV -- with hundreds of free streaming channels -- to every home in America?

    So why should we curb our enthusiasm?

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  • Lots of Free TV/Video Available, Spanning Short and Long Ends of the Tail

    As stay at home guidelines remain in place, it seems like more and more free TV and video are being made available, spanning the short and long ends of the tail (meaning super-premium through user-generated) - and everything in between. Not only does this create more choices for viewers, which will be welcomed, it also means more competition for subscription video services which were already vulnerable to belt-tightening. And for free TV/video that is ad-supported, it means more inventory and choices for advertisers.

    Here’s what’s caught my eye just in the past week:

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  • “Peak TV” and Why Many Entertainment-Oriented Cable TV Networks Will Morph Into Studios in the Long-Term

    There was nothing surprising when I read last week’s coverage of FX CEO John Landgraf’s tally of original productions in 2019. According to Landgraf, the number of original dramas, comedies and limited series across all SVOD and TV networks in the U.S. reached a new high of 532 (approximately what he previously predicted). That was up from 495 in 2018, 487 in 2017 and just 182 in the pre-SVOD days of 2002.

    This dynamic, which Landgraf has dubbed “Peak TV,” is leading many, if not most, ad-supported entertainment-oriented cable TV networks onto a road to nowhere if their goal is to remain ad-supported entertainment-oriented cable TV networks in the long-term. What is far more likely is that being this type of network will become unviable and so they’ll morph into studios that provide premium original and library content, mostly for bigger platforms (e.g. Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Hulu, etc.) and sometimes for their parent companies’ direct-to-consumer OTT services.

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  • Amazon Surpasses 40 Million Active Fire TV Users; Why Jeff Bezos’s Famous Flywheel Will Move Into Overdrive in 2020

    Amazon announced this morning that it has over 40 million active Fire TV users globally, up from over 37 million that it reported in early September, 2019. The 3 million or so gain would represent monthly growth of around 750K Fire TV users. Amazon said there will be 150+ Fire TV edition models in 10+ countries by the end of 2020. Fire TVs include sticks, boxes, smart TVs, sound bars, auto screens and devices for pay-TV operators.

    By Amazon’s count, Fire TV was already the top connected TV (CTV) provider globally in Q3 ’19, and its lead over Roku will likely expand just a bit for year-end 2019. Roku will report Q4 ’19 results on February 19th. At the end of Q3 '19 Roku reported 32.3 million active user accounts. In Q4 ’18 Roku added 3.3 million active user accounts, which would mean even if Roku doubled its quarterly growth in Q4 ’19 (which is unlikely), it would still be shy of Fire TV’s total.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #488: Amazon-Premier League and Verizon-Disney Show Power of Partnerships

    I’m pleased to present the 488th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On this week’s podcast, Colin and I explore how powerful partnerships can be in the increasingly competitive SVOD space. First, Colin shares details on the Amazon-Premier League partnership which was first announced in June, 2018, but will be implemented for the first time in December, 2019. Under the deal Amazon has exclusive streaming rights to 2 blocks of 10 Premier League games. Colin crunched the numbers on what the deal could be worth to Amazon in the UK.

    Then we turn our attention to the Verizon-Disney+ partnership announced earlier this week, in which Verizon's unlimited plan wireless subscribers will gain a full free year of Disney+. The deal could easily jumpstart Disney+ with several million subscribers.

    Listen in to learn more!

     
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  • VideoNuze Podcast #486: Hulu Enables Downloads; Disney-Amazon Clash

    I’m pleased to present the 486th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Colin and I were both excited to see Hulu launch a mobile video downloading feature this week. Hulu had teased the feature over a year ago. As Colin notes though, because it’s only available with the Hulu (No Ads) service and only on iOS devices, just around 15% of Hulu’s overall subscribers will gain access to downloading (at least for now).

    We then discuss reports that Disney doesn’t yet have an agreement with Amazon for its forthcoming Disney+ service to be included in Fire TV devices. The deal is held up due to Amazon’s attempt to wrangle more ad inventory in Disney’s other apps. The situation is typical of the complex and sometimes competitive relationships between big media and technology companies today.

    Listen in to learn more!

     
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  • As Disney Moves Into SVOD, It is Navigating New Terrain

    Last week, the WSJ ran two articles that underscore how Disney is navigating new terrain as it prepares to launch Disney+ in November. The articles also showcase how convoluted relationships among major media and technology companies are going to become over fights for shifting leverage.

    One article described how Disney has continued to ban advertising from Netflix on its entertainment TV networks (ESPN is still ok) even though it will accept ads from other SVOD providers. The other article described Disney’s negotiations with Amazon over how much ad inventory Amazon should be allocated to sell in Disney’s apps that run on Fire TV. The article noted no deal at all has been reached for Disney+ to be carried on Fire TV, as the SVOD service’s launch date nears.

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  • Food Network Kitchen Blends Entertainment, Learning and Shopping

    Discovery announced an intriguing direct-to-consumer offering yesterday called “Food Network Kitchen” in collaboration with Amazon. While SVOD announcements seem to occur on a near-daily basis, Food Network Kitchen has different ambitions, combining daily live and interactive cooking classes hosted by celebrity chefs along with a deep on-demand library of classes, plus viewing and voice navigation using Amazon Alexa and Fire TV devices. iOS and Android mobile devices will also be supported when Food Network Kitchen launches next month, with others coming next year.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #474: Amazon Keeps Pursuing Video in Creative Ways

    I’m pleased to present the 474th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up this week Colin and I discuss the “detente” that Amazon and Google seem to have achieved, announcing earlier this week that the Prime Video and YouTube apps will be supported on each other’s CTV devices. That’s good news for viewers who have had incomplete experiences.

    Then Colin describes a new service Amazon’s Twitch has launched called Twitch Prime. Colin sees it as another opportunity for Amazon to drive value back to the Prime service and even create new Prime subscribers. Last, Colin shares some new data illustrating that even though Prime Video has made progress in video, its original programming is still not at Netflix’s level.

    Listen in to learn more!

     
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  • YouTube and Amazon Prime Video Apps Return to Fire TV and Chromecast

    Frustrated Chromecast and Fire TV users can now breathe a sigh of relief: parent companies Google and Amazon have announced that apps for YouTube and Prime Video are officially available the other company’s CTV devices. That means Prime Video can be cast once again using Chromecast and is on Android TV devices. And YouTube’s app is available on Fire TV Stick (2nd gen), Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Stick Basic Edition, and Fire TV smart TVs (e.g. Toshiba, Insignia, Element, Westinghouse).

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