Amazon is stepping up its investment in original content.
The online retailer has already made a name for itself in the streaming sector, with original shows such as The Man in the High Castle and Transparent. Its VOD arm, Amazon Prime Video, though, is often considered second place to rival Netflix. But Amazon is far from out of the race, with plans to “significantly increase” its spending on original content.
The comments came as Amazon enjoys strong financial growth, with profit and revenue reports both surpassing expectations. Shares in the company leapt almost 13 per cent last week to £464. The positive figures arrive as Netflix faces strong headwinds in the coming year, due to the costs of worldwide expansion – Amazon’s advantage over its SVOD rival is that is more than just a streaming site, so it has more income to play with.
Indeed, as well as Amazon’s core retail operations, it also has a rapidly growing cloud services arm, with Amazon Web Services (AWS) seeing revenues climb 64 per cent to $2.56 billion and operating income more than tripling to $604 million. Reuters reports that AWS has “more than 30 per cent” of the cloud-computing market – “far ahead of rivals including Microsoft and Google”. Even Netflix is dependent on AWS, moving its streaming operation to its opponent’s cloud platform in recent years.
Amazon’s Prime scheme, meanwhile, is also evolving, with Spotify rival Prime Music joining Prime Video as part of its perks for an annual Prime membership. Last month, the company’s US arm took a leaf from the UK’s book and began to offer both Prime membership (with free next-day delivery on retail products) and Prime Video as standalone monthly subscription services, highlighting the strength of Prime Video in its own right.
That decision was made after a strong show of acclaim for Amazon’s original content, with Mozart in the Jungle and Transparent (pictured above) bagging double Golden Globe wins in consecutive years.
Amazon said it has seen “strong growth” in subscribers.
“We feel that program is working,” Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said in a conference call with analysts. “We’re going to significantly increase our spend in that area.”
Amazon is wasting no time in doing so: the company is now in talks to pick up sci-fi series Strange New Things, based on Michel Faber’s novel, penned by Bridge of Spies’ Matt Charman and directed by The Last King of Scotland’s Kevin Macdonald.
Earlier this year, it also announced a partnership with BBC Worldwide to produce Amazon’s first original UK series, The Collection, a French fashion drama set after World War II.