- Two recent moves from Amazon illustrate its content strategy is still under development. According to Fortune, Amazon abruptly cancelled Style Code Live, a fashion and beauty show that aired multiple times weekly and was designed as a QVC-like online show where viewers could buy the products being discussed. Through its original content on Prime Video, Amazon Studios remains a major playing in over-the-top streaming video.
- In a separate move, Amazon is opening a $5 million fund that young playwrights can tap to create original stories for Audible, the audiobook company it acquired in 2008 per Venture Beat. According to the New York Times, Amazon hasn’t released details on how playwrights can apply for grants, but that it does expect to initially fund about a dozen writers.
- Amazon has previously invested in original content for Audible, including recordings from Martin Sheen, Nick Offerman, and Lewis Black.
The Style Code Live news seemed to come as a surprise with Amazon deleting the show’s social media accounts and informing the staff last week it was cancelled. The show debuted in March 2016 as Amazon's first effort in live programming and seemed like a natural fit by combining two different areas of focus for Amazon with original video content and retail sales. Despite the cancellation, Amazon appears to still be committed to live programming, as it is actively hiring for its Amazon Live division and boasting to potential employees of its plans to build a comprehensive real-time video shopping experience.
The Audible news might strike some observers as curious, especially given the amount of grant money being made available to playwrights, but given Amazon’s founding core business as book seller it makes sense for it to extend its original content to audiobooks as well. Books is an area of differentiation for Amazon compared to other digital content engines and programs such as investing in young playwrights could give it a leg up in gaining access to new content that can be developed into video programming.
Amazon has reached a point as a company where it has really outgrown its e-commerce giant label. While it remains at the top of online retailers, it also has wide-ranging original content interests including live streaming 10 NFL games this upcoming season, popular hardware devices including the Echo and Dot personal digital assistants powered by its Alexa AI technology, and is a major cloud computing providers through Amazon Web Services. By industry accounts, Amazon is also poised to join Google and Facebook on the top rung of digital advertising platforms.