Amazon aims for mobile streaming dominance with Prime original films
Amazon is attempting to dominate the mobile streaming sector by producing and acquiring original films for early distribution on its Amazon Prime Instant Video platform, suggesting that consumers continue to demand a wider variety of movie viewing options on mobile devices.
Amazon Studios, which has already produced award-winning series such as Transparent and Tumble Leaf, will produce Amazon Original Movies for theatrical release and will premiere the films on Prime Instant Video and its mobile application four to eight weeks after their debut in theaters. The online retailer?s foray into feature films will only be available in the United States, but will likely reach a large amount of consumers that prefer to view movies on their iPads or smartphones, especially travelers and commuters.
?I think we've already seen a large shift, as the popularity of services like Netflix, HBO Go, and Hulu continues to increase, and I do expect that to continue,? said Andrew Gerhart, COO of AerServ, Newport Beach, CA. ?Consumer behavior is changing as the technology changes, and we absolutely see more users watching videos and their favorite TV shows on tablets and their smartphones.
?It may be on the go, or it might be sitting in bed watching a show before going to bed.?
With 60 percent of Amazon customers shopping via mobile devices during this past holiday season, the retailer is looking for more ways to branch out and entice mobile users to sign up for its platforms, such as Prime Instant Video (see story). Members of the Prime Now service can currently access tens of thousands of television shows and movies with the Amazon Instant Video mobile application, which is available for all iOS devices, Fire tablets and phones and hundreds of other personal devices.
Members may also watch media online at Amazon.com/PIV.
Many airlines have been rolling out personal device entertainment systems after finding that many travelers prefer to use their own devices when streaming movies or shows in-flight (see story). While airlines often time offer their own selections of media content for guests to watch, customers can also access the in-flight Wi-Fi to log on to their Amazon accounts and stream Prime Instant Video.
On-the-go mobile users demand the ability to catch up with their favorite programs while on the way to work or while using their tablets at home in the evening, therefore creating a greater demand for glitch-free, convenient viewing options of recent content on their mobile devices.
Amazon can expect competition from other similar streaming platforms, but can leverage its original, award-winning series to drum up interest for television and film fans.
?I am sure they will have competition from additional brands as Netflix has proven the model with their success,? Mr. Gerhart said.
However, other online brands will have even more difficulty competing with the retail conglomerate that is Amazon as it continues to dip its toes into facets of more industries. While Netflix also offers top-rated programs, users with a subscription to the platform cannot also purchase clothing, electronics and books on the site, whereas they can on Amazon.
Amazon is working hard to establish itself as a master of all trades, especially as its mobile sales skyrocket.
?Amazon could never be accused of resting on its laurels,? said Puneet Mehta, CEO of MobileROI, New York. ?The company continues to break into new fields at an aggressive pace in an attempt to deepen engagement with existing Prime customers and capture new ones.
?Because the company does not seem to lose focus on its core ecommerce product, and rather boost up its offerings, this can only have a positive impact on the company.?
Amazon plans to compete with Netflix, HBO Go and other platforms with original content, such as recent Golden Globe-winning series Transparent. While Netflix also offers exclusive and original programming, fans of specific programs will likely gravitate towards one service for their other viewing needs.
Amazon?s move also displays consumers? growing desire for immediate access to content. While it usually takes 39 to 52 weeks for a film to premiere on a subscription service after its theatrical run, Amazon Original Movies will only take four to eight weeks to appear on Prime Instant Video after their debut.
?Over the past 12-18 months, mobile streaming of video has grown exponentially, a trend that will only continue,? Mr. Mehta said. ?The underlying theme of consumer expectations today is choice: choice in how, when and where they consume content and engage with brands.
?Giving consumers the ability of waiting a few short weeks to stream a feature film on a variety of devices as opposed to seeing it in theaters is a brilliant move. More so, smartphones have surpassed TVs to become the first screen in our lives, so people will be more inclined to engage with streaming content on the devices that they carry around with them,? he said.
However, it remains to be seen if this announcement will drive more subscriptions to Prime Instant Video.
?I think that largely depends on the appetite for the content they produce and make available via the service,? Mr. Gerhart said. ?I certainly don't think Netflix would be as successful if they didn't have such high quality movies and shows available.?
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York