Amazon Prime Instant Video struggles to catch on as mobile streaming takes off
Amazon joined the mobile streaming arena about a year ago with its Amazon Prime Instant Video, but the service is falling behind other sites such as Netflix and HBO Go.
The mobile streaming space seems to be crowded with competitors all striving to be the best. The question is whether Amazon can take the lead and if there is room for all of these different offerings.
?Amazon Prime Instant Video is a great bonus of a Prime membership, but it isn't the main selling point, at least not yet,? said Nikao Yang, senior vice president of new business development and marketing at AdColony, Los Angeles.
?We expect to see a repositioning of Amazon Prime Instant Video in the marketplace in the second half of the year to take advantage of consumer appetite for streaming mobile video,? he said.
?Amazon Prime Instant Video?s most clear competitors would be Netflix and Hulu Plus, but Apple's iTunes/Apple TV and Google Play are also popular consumer choices.?
According to Juniper research, worldwide revenues from mobile TV and video services will reach $9.5 billion in 2017, up from $4.5 billion in 2013.
It seems that more companies are catching on to this trend. When it comes to video streaming providers, the list is endless.
The obvious providers are Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go Apple and Google Play.
Then there is Flixter, a movie discovery application that lets users stream movies and TV shows from the cloud on a mobile device and other platforms.
There is also Sony Crackle that streams movies and TV shows for free on mobile devices in an ad-supported environment.
RedBox and Blockbuster?s online streaming are also trying to make a name for themselves in the space, as well as Vizio, Sony and Panasonic.
The question then is whether or not there is space for all of these providers.
?Like any industry, there will be consolidation and specialization that occurs as the market matures,? said Brian Shin, CEO of Visible Measures, Boston.
?The biggest issue is that many of these services are licensing content from the same owners,? he said. ?This makes differentiation somewhat limited and lessens the value of acquiring a competing company.
?So the small players will start to get squeezed out, unless they bring something new to the table that a bigger player wants. There will certainly be smaller players who may focus on niche markets, independent film, for example, that may stay around due to specialization. But even then, you'll start to see them getting absorbed by the major players.?
According to Mr. Shin, the key to standing out in the field is offering exclusive material.
If a provider does not offer original material, they are in the hands of content owners and slaves to licensing issues.
For this reason, providers such as Hulu and Netflix have begun creating original content. Amazon too has rolled out Amazon Studios to create original series such as Alpha House, Betas and Annebots.
The challenge with original content is that it is very costly, so this may weed out some of the smaller providers.
Another challenge for video streaming is that it needs to offer a seamless video viewing experience from any screen, ranging from a mobile device to a big-screen TV.
The final champion
According to Mr. Shin, Netflix and Amazon are the companies to watch out for in this competition.
?They're the companies with the money to lure the big content franchises that everyone wants to see and/or create exclusive content programming,? Mr. Shin said.
?Netflix has the advantage of having always been in the content business,? he said. ?And it has years of data that have informed their successful formula for content. This also makes Netflix a threat to major content producers, particularly movie studios, which may impact their big film roster.
?But Amazon has more room to test out content both acquired and created because they have more money to spend. There is also the added benefit that Amazon doesn?t require consumers buy anything new to get their video, it just comes with an Amazon Prime membership, so their viewer base is likely much bigger.?
The winner in mobile video streaming will need to have a firm understanding of consumers' behavior in addition to the technology to back it up.
?The winner will crack the code on consumer lifestyle as it relates to social viewing habits and also the emerging tendency of viewers shifting between screens to enjoy video,? said Paul Bremer, chief revenue officer of Rhythm NewMedia, Mountain View, CA,
?The winner will master ease of use and easy integration with other services and devices," he said. "And, of course, programming quality and volume, not to mention a focus on original programming, to some extent.?
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York