Is Amazon about to take on UK pay-TV providers?
James R | On 16, Apr 2016
Amazon may be about to take on UK pay-TV providers with its own streaming network.
SVOD services and pay-TV providers, such as Sky or Virgin, have often been thought of as rivals to each other. Recent figures from Barb, though, reveal that the two are more complimentary than competitive: Netflix and Amazon Prime Video homes are significantly more likely to be cable or Sky subscription homes than average, with Netflix penetration in cable and YouView homes particularly high because of the deals Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk have made with the company – 30 per cent of cable homes and 31 per cent of YouView homes take Netflix compared to 13 per cent of terrestrial-only households.
However, Amazon may now be looking to position itself as a more direct rival.
The Telegraph reports that the online retailer has been holding talks with British broadcasts to add their channels and shows to its Prime Video platform – a UK equivalent of its US Streaming Partners Programme, which is an over-the-top subscription platform that lets US Prime members also add subscriptions through Amazon to channels such as Showtime, Starz, A+E (Lifetime Movie Club) and AMC (Shudder and SundanceNow Doc Club).
Amazon is understood to be adapting its bolt-on approach to the British TV market, with preliminary talks reportedly taking place with Viacom, UKTV, Disney and Discovery. Combined with potential live sports (BT has reportedly been involved in discussions too), and with the autumn launch of its new car series fronted by former Top Gear trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, the result could be an appealing alternative to Sky or other pay-TV providers.
If it does happen, industry sources told the newspaper that Amazon would alter its strategy from its US one-channel-at-a-time model to build a more traditional subscription add-on bundle – indeed, with Sky’s exclusive deals for the most high-profile US TV imports, individual UK pay-TV channels have far slimmer pickings than in the US, which means a combined package would have more clout.
The resulting service would certainly distinguish Amazon Prime Video as a different beast to Netflix, as the online retailer continues to seek ways not to beat its VOD rival, but to expand its streaming footprint far beyond Netflix. Amazon already offers rentals and downloads through its Amazon Instant Video store and has also introduced its own Amazon Fire TV hardware into living rooms.