Watch out Hulu lovers – Amazon is coming to win you over.
In its latest effort to dominate all possible revenue-generating spaces, Amazon is in talks to launch a free, ad-supported video streaming service early next year. Separate from Amazon Prime, this new move is an effort to become “the latest entry in the battle to control the technology and content streaming to all screens at home.” Cable is dying out – we all know it. Amazon is taking steps now to secure for itself a firm place in the new era of how we watch video content. If they want to be on top, though, they need to up their original content offerings – something competitor Netflix does often, and well.
To differentiate a video streaming service and carve out a chunk of the market for yourself, original content is a must. For a few years now Netflix has written and produced its own Netflix-original series that are available exclusively on the platform. Its latest golden egg Orange Is The New Black has been nominated for – and won – Golden Globes, a variety of Emmy’s, and the Critics Choice Award for Best Comedy Series. OITNB isn’t Netflix’s only popular original series – off the top of my head, I can name House of Cards (seen it), Hemlock Grove (seen it), and Peaky Blinders (never seen it – still too many shows in my queue). The only Amazon original I can name is Transparent, which I have heard of because of its recent media attention. Personally, that alone would not be enough for me to abandon Netflix and go steady with Amazon. For parents with a current Prime membership or looking for safe content for kids to watch, Amazon does offer a number of children’s programs written and produced by Amazon. Perhaps that’s the market they’d like to win over first. Netflix can keep its fans of vampire/werewolf drama and corrupt politicos – Amazon seems to want the yuppie parents.
As far as we know, Amazon is the only one working toward a shop-for-products-seen “experience” while watching your favorite TV shows. Imagine you’re streaming an episode of The Walking Dead on Amazon’s new streaming platform and – wow! An ad for a Vitamix appears in one of the intermitted commercials that shuffles in every six minutes or so. Unlike Hulu or Netflix, you can click the Amazon logo at the top of your screen, search for the Vitamix, pay with your previously stored credit card and shipping information, and be back to your show before you miss another face-melting fight scene. Maybe Amazon will offer direct links from the ads to your shopping cart and checkout. Maybe this ad space will become the new buy box and have 3P sellers competing against the mammoth itself. The possibilities are endless and unforeseen – never before have featured ads and immediate purchase ability been so intertwined.
Though Amazon may not steal a significant amount of Netflix’s loyal customers with a video streaming service, it will undoubtedly cause an explosion with its new self-supporting and quick-conversion ad content, who’s effects will ricochet and incite dialogue about the way we watch content and how comfortable we are with facing our own consumerism at every ad break. It’s a bold move, and one that will, like Amazon’s other recent headline-making plays, solidify its position as a fiercely evolving company. Yes, I am impressed – but I still have to get through three seasons of House of Cards before I’d ever consider a switch.