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Amazon Raising Annual Prime Membership Fee $20, Q4 Subscription Revenue Up 15%

Amazon Feb. 3 announced it is raising the annual cost of its Prime Membership to $139, from $119. It is the company’s first price hike since 2018. The monthly Prime fee increases to $15 from $13.

Separately, the e-commerce behemoth reported fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2021) proprietary (excluding third-party sellers) online revenue of $66 billion, which was about 1% less than the $66.4 billion generated in the previous-year period. The segment includes media products available in both a physical and digital format, such as books, movies, TV shows, video games, music and software sold on a transactional basis.

Subscription revenue, which includes Amazon Prime Video monthly fees, increased 15% to more than $8.1 billion, compared with $7 billion a year ago.

“[With] the addition of marquee new entertainment like “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” and “Thursday Night Football,” and a plethora of new capabilities that we’re building in areas like Alexa, Ring, Grocery, Pharmacy, Amazon Care, Kuiper and Zoox, there’s a lot to look forward to in the months and years ahead,” CEO Andy Jassy said in a statement.

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Entertainment highlights in the quarter included the launch of new series “The Wheel of Time,” starring Rosamund Pike, ranked No. 1 in Nielsen’s rankings of streaming series the week of its premiere, with customers viewing more than 1 billion minutes of the series across its first three episodes.

Additional Prime Video series releases included the new comedy “Harlem,” the adult animated comedy “Fairfax,” and the final season of the sci-fi fan favorite “The Expanse.” Prime Video also announced that the first season of “Reacher,” a new series based on the international best-selling book Killing Floor by Lee Child, will be released on Feb. 4, and that “Diabolical,” an animated spinoff of the global hit series “The Boys,” is set to premiere in 2022.

The critically acclaimed Prime Video original film Being the Ricardos, starring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem and directed by Aaron Sorkin, premiered in theaters and on the streamer; The Tender Bar, starring Ben Affleck and directed by George Clooney, premiered in theaters and on Prime Video; and the fourth and final installment of the franchise Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, featuring the voices of Selena Gomez and Andy Samberg, premiered on Prime Video.

Prime Video continued to garner significant awards recognition for its original series and movies. Being the Ricardos was nominated for two Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards (female actor in a leading role Nicole Kidman and male actor in a leading role Javier Bardem) and three Critics Choice Awards (lead actress Nicole Kidman, supporting actor J.K. Simmons, and original screenplay Aaron Sorkin). The Tender Bar was nominated for a SAG Award (male actor in a supporting role Ben Affleck). A Hero, the foreign-language feature from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, was nominated for a Critics Choice Award (foreign language film) and shortlisted for the Academy Awards (international feature). “The Underground Railroad,” which earned seven Emmy nominations in 2021, was nominated for three Critics Choice Awards (limited series, lead actress Thuso Mbedu, and supporting actor William Jackson Harper) and two Independent Spirit Awards (new scripted series and female performer Thuso Mbedu).

The quarter marked Prime Video’s strongest viewership for live sports globally. The 2021-22 “Thursday Night Football” season streaming on Prime Video and Twitch delivered the highest average minute audience, a measurement of the average number of devices streaming the weekly game at any given minute since Amazon acquired shared rights in 2017.

In the U.K., the Manchester United vs. Arsenal soccer game on Dec. 2, 2021, became the most-watched Premier League match ever on the service, with an estimated viewership of more than 4 million. Plus, millions of rugby fans tuned in to the Autumn Nations Series, the first full competitive international rugby union series featuring the top Northern and Southern Hemisphere teams since 2019. In India, Prime Video made its first foray into live sports, streaming cricket matches between New Zealand and Bangladesh.

Prime Video debuted 28 local originals internationally, including Maradona: Blessed Dream (Argentina), Burning (Australia), Inside Edge Season 3 (India), and The Ferragnez — The Series (Italy). New locally produced series and movies launched in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Ad-supported VOD platform IMDb TV launched “Judy Justice,” starring the Honorable Judy Sheindlin, a retired judge of the Manhattan Family Court and a TV judge for over 25 years. The series marked Amazon Studios’ largest-ever episode order for an original series with 120 episodes, and it is the first series to offer audiences a daily release cadence.

 

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