Amazon Prime Video Viewership Revealed

Amazon Prime Video reportedly generated 26 million initial viewers for original programs in early 2017, including 5 million viewers for top shows such as “The Man in the High Castle,” “Transparent,” “Mozart in the Jungle,” and ‘The Grand Tour.”

Subscription streaming video heavyweights Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have staunchly refused to reveal viewership (or ratings) for their ad-free original programs, citing lack of required advertiser justification. It’s a stance that irritates ad-supported TV broadcasters beholden to live-or-die ratings.

Now, internal documents obtained by Reuters reveal in part why original programing is driving Netflix and Amazon to spend $8 billion and $5 billion, respectively, on programing in 2018: New subscribers. It’s growth that drives revenue – and that’s what Wall Street loves.

With Prime Video a free component of Amazon’s $99 annual Prime free two-day shipping membership program, original episodic programs and movies drive subscriber growth, which in turn drives growth of other items on Amazon – including movies.

Unlike Netflix, which reveals (if not champions) subscriber data, Amazon refuses to disclose Prime membership data, which was estimated to top 54 million in the United States at the end of 2015, according to a Consumer Intelligence Research Partners survey.

In a separate 2016 survey from “CutCableToday” of 380 Prime members, 40% said they rented or bought movies not available on Prime Video from Amazon Instant Video on a monthly basis. The survey also found that 20% of Prime members don’t use Prime Video.

“When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes,” Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos told a 2016 tech confab. It’s an outlook CFO Brian Olsavsky drones on monotonously in Amazon’s conference calls.

Reuters reported that “High Castle,” which is an adaption of Philip Dick’s 1962 alternate historical fiction showcasing Axis powers Germany, Japan and Italy having won World War II, cost $72 million in first season production and marketing.

It reportedly generated 1.15 million new Prime subscribers, or about $63 in subscriber acquisition costs – 36% below the annual Prime membership fee.

Amazon Studios Inks Deal With Oscar-Winning Filmmaker

Amazon Studios has closed an exclusive first-look deal with Oscar-winning filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan, who won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and a nomination for Best Director for Manchester by the Sea, distributed by Amazon.

The two-year deal for directing and writing will cover both film and television projects.

“I’m thrilled to renew my connection to Amazon Studios,” said Lonergan in a statement. “They’ve done amazing work wherever they’ve turned their attention. They did a perfect job with Manchester by the Sea, and it’s a pleasure to be in business with them again.”

“Kenny is one of the finest directors and storytellers of our time,” said Jason Ropell, VP of worldwide motion pictures, Amazon Studios, in a statement. “Following our successful and memorable partnership on Manchester by the Sea, we are excited to further our relationship and continue supporting his visionary work.”

Lonergan’s upcoming projects include Howards End, a four-part limited series starring Hayley Atwell, and the play “Lobby Hero” starring Chris Evans, Michael Cera, Bel Powley  and Brian Tyree Henry, set to premiere on Broadway in March.

Manchester by the Sea is available now for streaming and download on Prime Video.

‘That’s Entertainment’ U.K. Retail Chain ‘Under Review’

The future of U.K. retail chain “That’s Entertainment,” which operates 29 stores selling DVD, Blu-ray Disc movies, music CDs and video games, reportedly is under review by corporate parent, Entertainment Magpie Ltd.

The chain was founded in 2007 and employs about 1,000 people with more than 4.5 million registered customers.

With the advent of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, in addition to ecommerce, entertainment retail globally continues to take it on the chin.

“As a result, [corporate] is conducting an immediate review on the long-term viability of its ‘That’s Entertainment’ retail stores across the UK, which in the worst-case scenario would lead to the closure of all 29 current outlets by the end of May,” the company said in a statement last month.

Magpie said it continues to focus on ecommerce, which includes operating in the United States enabling users to buy and sell packaged media and portable media devices online.

“Whilst online sales and our wholesale sales channels into both the U.K. and across the world have continued to grow, media sales through the retail estate have declined by circa 20% in the last year meaning the sizeable fixed cost base that comes with running a retail estate is something that is becoming increasingly difficult for the business to absorb,” said the company.

Citing the “huge impact” a shutdown of retail operations would have on staff, Magpie said any decision would be taken after “a great deal of consideration.”

“So, we are immediately entering into a period of group consultation to discuss next steps,” said the company.


Amazon Greenlights First Adult Animation Series

Taking another page from Netflix, Amazon Studios March 6 announced production green light for “Undone,” an animated adult series from Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Writers Guild Award winner Kate Purdy – the creative team behind Netflix’s adult animated series, “BoJack Horseman.”

The series, which is produced by Michael Eisner’s Tornante Company, is in pre-production and expected to premiere in 2019 on Prime Video in over 200 countries.

“Undone” is a 30-minute dramedy that explores the elastic nature of reality through its central character, Alma. After getting into a near fatal car accident, Alma discovers she has a new relationship with time and uses this ability to find out the truth about her father’s death.

Dutch artist Hisko Hulsing (“Montage of Heck”) will oversee the production design and direct a team of animators working in the Netherlands. The animation will be done with Dutch co-producer and Amsterdam-based studio Submarine, and Austin-based studio Minnow Mountain.

“Kate and Raphael are dynamic and creative forces, and I know they will create an amazing series for us,” Sharon Yguado, head of scripted series, Amazon Studios, said in a statement.

Roll Over, Shakespeare! Brits Spend More on Home Entertainment Than Print

British love for the printed word is apparently over.

Consumers spent more on music, streaming video, movies and video games in 2017 than on books, magazines and newspapers, according to new data from the Entertainment Retailers Association. It is the first time revenue from home entertainment exceeded print media.

Key drivers included digital services such as Spotify, Steam, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Deezer, Sky, Apple and Google.

According to research prepared for ERA by the Leisure Industries Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, Britons spent £7.2bn ($9.91 billion) on music, video and games compared to £7.1bn ($9.77 billion) on books, magazines and newspapers.

“It is an extraordinary testament to the appeal and resonance of digital entertainment services that they have helped home entertainment to hit this milestone nearly 550 years since the invention of the printing press,” ERA CEO Kim Bayley said in a statement.

While entertainment sales reached an all-time-high for the third year, spending on print was stagnant and substantially down on its 2007 peak of £8.3bn ($11.4 billion).

The entertainment growth rate (8.8%) exceeded that of virtually every sector monitored by the Leisure Industries Research Centre, including dining (up 7.7%), alcohol (up 6%), foreign travel (up 4.4%) and gambling (up 1%). Total leisure spending was up 5.2%.

“The 2008-2009 recession hurt both the entertainment and reading markets,” said Dr. Themis Kokolakakis with Leisure Industries Research Centre. “Since 2012, the entertainment market has recovered very strongly producing record 2017 results. [Print] media is under pressure, partly because of the growth of streaming services, partly because there is so much competition for people’s time and attention. Entertainment has grown while reading has stagnated.”

Meanwhile, five years ago more than 80% of revenue was generated by buy-to-own formats such as discs or downloads. In 2017, 56% of revenue came from music and streaming video, transactional VOD or subscriptions to online multiplayer games, digital micro-transactions and in-app purchases on mobile devices.

“The success of the entertainment business is a testament to the power of innovation, creating new ways for people to enjoy the music, video and games they love,” Bayley said.

Notable packaged media growth included boxed software for consoles such as the new Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4, which generated their first growth in 10 years – up 5% to £750m ($1 billion); and vinyl albums, with sales up 34% to £87.7m ($120 million).

“Digital services may be grabbing the headlines, but physical retailers continue to identify new opportunities to showcase and drive sales of discs,” said Bayley. “Vinyl is a prime example of retailers nurturing demand for a product most people had long written off. It would be foolish to underestimate the consumers continuing affection for physical product.”

Finally, Ed Sheeran’s album Divide was the best-selling music, video or game title in the UK in 2017, achieving sales of more than 2.7 million units.

In 2017, 33 music, video or game titles sold over half a million units. Of these, 10 sold over 1 million units and three over 2 million. Of the Top 40 biggest sellers, seven were music albums, 10 were videogames and 23 were videos, led by a trio of titles from Walt Disney Studios – Beauty & The BeastRogue One – A Star Wars Story and Moana.


ERA Entertainment Chart 2017
Position Category Title Artist Company Units sold
1 Albums Divide Ed Sheeran Warner Music 2,702,839
2 Videogames FIFA 18 Electronic Arts 2,696,721
3 Videogames Call of Duty: WWII Activision Blizzard 2,442,416
4 Video Beauty and The Beast (2017) Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 1,484,565
5 Video Rogue One – A Star Wars Story Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 1,380,402
6 Video Moana Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 1,293,787
7 Video Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Warner Home Video 1,279,850
8 Videogames Grand Theft Auto V Take 2 1,080,022
9 Video Bridget Jones’s Baby Universal Pictures Home Entertainment 1,052,753
10 Albums Human Rag’n’Bone Man Sony Music 1,001,913
11 Video Guardians of The Galaxy – Vol 2 Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 873,825
12 Video Trolls 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment 872,586
13 Video Sing Universal Pictures Home Entertainment 805,342
14 Video Dunkirk Warner Home Video 753,429
15 Videogames Assassin’s Creed Origins Ubisoft 679,965
16 Videogames Destiny 2 Activision Blizzard 673,551
17 Videogames Star Wars Battlefront II Electronic Arts 658,814
18 Videogames Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy Activision Blizzard 651,354
19 Video Despicable Me 3 Universal Pictures Home Entertainment 631,748
20 Video Logan 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment 614,631
21 Video Doctor Strange Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 612,745
22 Albums Now That’s What I Call Music 96 Various Artists Sony Music/Universal Music 601,906
23 Albums Now That’s What I Call Music 97 Various Artists Sony Music/Universal Music 595,547
24 Video Wonder Woman Warner Home Video 591,316
25 Videogames Tom Clancey’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands UBISOFT 574,889
26 Albums Now That’s What I Call Music 96 Various Artists Sony Music/Universal Music 560,286
27 Video Spider-Man – Homecoming Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 551,227
28 Video Pirates of The Caribbean – Salazars Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 538,735
29 Video The Girl on The Train 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment 525,996
30 Video La La Land Elevation Sales 525,342
31 Albums The Thrill of It All Sam Smith Universal Music 501,952
32 Video The Boss Baby 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment 501,453
33 Video Fast & Furious 8 Universal Pictures 500,617
34 Video The Lego Batman Movie Warner Home Video 494,446
35 Videogames Gran Turismo: Sport Sony Computer Ent. 484,933
36 Albums Glory Days Little Mix Sony Music 468,173
37 Video Fifty Shades Darker Universal Pictures 466,119
38 Video Hacksaw Ridge Elevation Sales 465,138
39 Videogames Horizon Zero Dawn Sony Computer Ent. 456,374
40 Video War For The Planet Of The Apes 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment 435,440


Amazon Selling ‘UFC 222’ Pay-Per-View Fight

Netflix may have no interest in live sports, but streaming video rival Amazon is taking a different approach.

In a first, the ecommerce behemoth has begun selling pay-per-view streaming access to “UFC 222 Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya,” a female featherweight mixed martial arts fight taking place March 3 in Las Vegas. The four-hour event is available in HD for $64.99.

The main card also includes contests between Frankie Edgar and Brian Ortega; Sean O’Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath; Stefan Struve vs. Andrei Arlovski; and Cat Zingano vs. Ketlen Viera.

The package does not require a Prime membership.

Amazon previously sold fight retransmissions, including “UFC 194: Aldo vs. McGregor” in 2015 and “UFC 220,” a curated collection of past fights.

While PPV events are typically sold through pay-TV operators and can be acquired through other channels, Amazon’s move marks another step toward live sports.

Amazon paid $50 million to the NFL in 2017 to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games on Prime Video – an arrangement the company hopes to continue next season.


Amazon, Lionsgate Ink Latin America Distribution Deal

Amazon and Lionsgate Feb. 27 announced an exclusive multiyear agreement under which Lionsgate will make available select movies to Prime Video members in Mexico, Brazil and the rest of Latin America. The agreement includes Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment movies to stream on Prime Video following their local theatrical release in the region.

Under the pact, Prime Video becomes the exclusive long-term streaming home in Latin America for Lionsgate movies and branded properties, beginning with John Wick: Chapter 2Saban’s Power Rangers; The Shack; and Jigsaw, the latest installment of Saw horror franchise.

Prime Video will add new Lionsgate releases, including breakout Wonder, starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, along with future releases such as action comedy, The Spy Who Dumped Me, starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon; noir thriller, A Simple Favor, featuring Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick; action adventure Robin Hood, featuring Jamie Foxx and Taron Egerton; and young adult thriller, Chaos Walking, starring Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland.

“Amazon is committed to delivering great movies to our Prime Video members across Latin America,” Jason Ropell, VP, worldwide movies, Prime Video, said in a statement.

All titles will be available in HD, and can also be temporarily downloaded and watched offline on compatible mobile devices.

“The complementary strengths of Amazon and Lionsgate, including the innovation of the Prime Video service and the premium quality of Lionsgate content, set this deal apart,” said Peter Iacono, president of international television and digital distribution, at Lionsgate.


Global Streaming Video Households Top 250 Million

Households worldwide paying for streaming video services exceeds 250 million, according to new data from Strategy Analytics. The firm predicts the number of homes paying for SVOD services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will reach about 300 million by the end of 2018 and more than 450 million by 2022.

Strategy Analytics says average monthly household spending on SVOD increased 5% in 2017 to $9.46, with total number of subs reached 345 million by the end of 2017

Households paying for streaming video used on average 1.39 services, with the United States having the highest penetration of SVOD, including 59% of households using at least one service at the end of 2017.

“Streaming video is rapidly becoming a normal part of people’s entertainment options,” Michael Goodman, director, TV & media strategies, said in a statement. “Usage is already at around half of households in the most mature markets and is likely to reach those levels in many other countries in the near future.”

The London-based data incorporated Netflix, Prime Video, Hotstar,, Hulu, Viu and iFlix. It did not include online TV services such as Sky’s NowTV and DirecTV Now.

“Clearly market leaders like Netflix and Amazon will benefit from this trend, but there are also major opportunities for media companies that currently focus on more traditional pay TV and content development business models,” Goodman said.

Survey: Consumers Prefer Downloading Video to Streaming

Subscription streaming video is a global phenomenon, spearheaded by Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

But a new survey suggests many consumers are frustrated by their streaming experience and would prefer downloading content, according to a survey conducted by Penthera, which markets download-to-go (D2Go) functionality.

Downloading content on portable devices enables users to view later without an Internet connection. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu allow subscribers to download select original content.

The survey – based on 804 respondents in January – found that 92% of consumers have been frustrated trying to stream video, with issues related to buffering (65%), slow loading (40%), and placement of advertising (50%).

When issues arise, 53% of respondents said they give up on that streaming session; 26% said they stop using the unsatisfactory service; 11% will cancel their subscriptions.

“Consumers expect content anywhere, on any device, but delivery on that promise is still at the mercy Wi-Fi connectivity,” Dan Taitz, president and COO, Penthera, said in a statement. “Our survey shows that fewer than 9% of respondents said they are ‘never frustrated’ when streaming.”

Penthera found 39% of survey respondents said they would be more likely to subscribe to a service offering D2Go functionality; 34% said they would be more likely to watch programming from a service offering the feature; 18% said they would be less likely to cancel a service with D2Go.

Nearly half of those surveyed said they used download-to-go technology; 21% said the use D2Go to avoid depleting their mobile data plans; 17% don’t want to pay for Internet access at their destination on an airline or at a hotel; and 53% said they’d be willing to pay up to $5 per month to have download as a feature from their favorite streaming service.

“The survey data shows [respondents] see download-to-go functionality as an important tool in assuring the availability of their favorite videos, even if only used occasionally,” said Colin Dixon, analyst with nScreen Media.


Amazon Bows Oscar Binge Week

Amazon Prime Video is making movies nominated for the 2018 Academy Awards available for pre-order, rent or purchase prior to the March 4 telecast.

Titles available to rent or buy include Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Get Out.

 Call Me By Your Name and The Shape of Water are available for pre-order; and Get Out is available for purchase or streaming on HBO Now, which is available through Amazon Channels.

 Amazon Studios original movie, The Big Sick, nominated for Best Original Screenplay, is available to stream with a Prime membership.

From March 1-2, Prime Video is making select movies previously nominated for Best Picture available to Prime members to rent for $1.99 each.

Titles include Moonlight, Spotlight, Birdman, 12 Years a Slave, Argo, The Artist, The King’s Speech, The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, The Departed, Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Chicago, A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator, American Beauty, The Lord of the Rings, Shakespeare in Love and Titanic.

Last year, more than one third of all streams of Oscar-nominated movies took place between the nominations and the awards.

Amazon said serious bingers streamed all five movies on the day prior to the Academy Awards, with one viewer finishing four minutes before Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue.

And within minutes when Moonlight – not La La Land – won Best Picture, streams of the film rose eight times from the previous week.