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.

Amazon Streaming 2017 SXSW Film Festival Selections

Amazon Studios may have cut back on acquisitions at the recent Sundance Film Festival, but it’s hardly turning a blind eye toward independent film.

The company March 7 announced that more than 30 official selections from the 2017 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, are now able to stream on Prime Video.

The films are available through the Prime Video Direct (formerly Amazon Video Direct) Film Festival Stars program that offers filmmakers up to $200,000 and royalties of $0.30 for every hour the film is streamed on Prime Video.

Though criticized by some as lowballing content creators, the Film Festival Stars program is designed to establish a distribution model for titles screened at film festivals that either don’t secure theatrical distribution deals or are looking for distribution options after a theatrical release.

The official selections from the 2017 South by Southwest Film Festival include Grand Jury winner for Narrative Feature, Most Beautiful Island; Special Jury Recognition for Best Ensemble, A Bad Idea Gone Wrong; Special Jury Recognition for Excellence in Documentary Storytelling, I Am Another You; SXSW Audience Award for Narrative Feature Competition, The Light of the Moon.

Prime Video Direct returns to the 2018 South by Southwest Film Festival (starting March 9) with the FFS program. A representative said Prime Video Direct would be taking meetings from March 10 – March 12 at the InterContinental (701 Congress Ave) to discuss the program. Interested rights holders should email to set up an appointment.

Other SXSW titles available to stream include:

 2 Pigeons

A Bad Idea Gone Wrong


Bad Lucky Goat


Bill Frisell, A Portrait

California Dreams


Divine Divas


Easy Living

Fits & Starts

Flesh and Blood

Going to Brazil

I Am Another You

Infinity Baby



Let There Be Light


Maya Dardel

Meatball Machine: Kodoku

Most Beautiful Island

Paa Joe & the Lion


Ramblin Freak

Satan Said Dance

Signature Move



The Honor Farm

The Light of the Moon

The Price

The Secret Life of Lance Letscher


Win By Fall


Amazon Renews Longest-Running Original Drama Series, ‘Bosch’

Amazon Feb. 13 announced the fifth-season renewal of original drama, “Bosch.” Season four of the Emmy-nominated Los Angeles police detective drama premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, April 13.

Based on Michael Connelly’s best-selling novels, the hour-long series Bosch stars Titus Welliver (“Lost”) as homicide Detective Harry Bosch, Jamie Hector (“The Wire”) as Jerry Edgar, Amy Aquino (“Being Human”) as Lt. Grace Billets, Madison Lintz (“The Walking Dead”) as Maddie Bosch and Lance Reddick (“The Wire”) as Deputy Chief Irvin Irving.

Season three has an average customer rating of 4.8, with 89% 5 star reviews.

In the 10-episode season four, when an attorney is murdered on the eve of his civil rights trial against the LAPD, Bosch is assigned to lead a task force to solve the crime before the city erupts in a riot. Bosch must pursue every lead, even if it turns the spotlight back on his own department. One murder intertwines with another, and Bosch must reconcile his past to find a justice that has long eluded him.

“As Prime Video’s longest-running one-hour series, ‘Bosch’ has long been a cornerstone of our scripted programming,” Sharon Tal Yguado, head of scripted series, Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “We are excited to give them another season with Harry Bosch, Jerry Edgar, Grace Billets and the rest of the diverse characters that make up the Bosch universe.”

Amazon Names NBC Entertainment Boss Jennifer Salke to Head Studio Operations

Amazon has appointed Jennifer Salke president of Amazon Studios, replacing Roy Price, who resigned last year following sexual harassment allegations.

Salke, who headed NBC Universal since 2011, was responsible for development of current programming, casting, and diversity programming initiatives at NBC, in addition to Universal Television operations, which included parallel divisions of development, programming and casting.

Last month, she added oversight of business affairs and production for scripted programming to her purview.

Salke’s resume includes helping launch “This Is Us,” which earned an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Drama Series – the first broadcast show to earn a nom in that category since 2011.

She has also been instrumental behind Dick Wolf’s “Chicago” franchise as well as dramas, “Shades of Blue” and “The Blacklist.”

Calling her departure from NBC “bittersweet,” Salke said she looked forward to being on the front lines of an “innovative business” going forward.

“I am both honored and emboldened by the opportunity to lead this extraordinary business,” Salke said in a statement.

Netflix Streams ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ Following Super Bowl LII

For football fans, it was the Philadelphia Eagles denying a trademark New England Patriots rally to win its first Super Bowl (discounting a 1960 NFL Championship) in a thrilling contest, 41-33.

For Hollywood, the marquee televised event (111 million viewers in 2017) provided massive eyeballs for movie trailers/teasers reportedly costing more than $5 million to air.

Netflix went a step further, using the Super Bowl’s typical 100 million household audience to announce that its acquisition of former Paramount Pictures’ sequel, The Cloverfield Paradox, would be available to stream globally following the game.

The SVOD pioneer reportedly acquired the movie after Paramount pushed back its theatrical release to April, and then abandoned the idea. Netflix and Paramount previously partnered on Annihilation, a sci-fi action horror film starring Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

This marked the first time a major motion picture was made available almost immediately following its Super Bowl commercial.

Early results from comScore cited spots from Walt Disney’s Marvel Avengers: Infinity War, Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Disney’s Lucasfilm Solo: A Star Wars Story generating the most social media buzz.

comScore said Fallen Kingdom and Paramount Pictures’ Mission: Impossible – Fallout generated 3.56 million and 2.09 million views, respectively on Facebook and YouTube.

The Cloverfield Paradox generated the most buzz among subscription streaming video services, followed by Universal’s Skyscraper, starring Dwayne Johnson, and Quiet Place (Paramount) and Red Sparrow (Fox).

Amazon Studios ran a spot for “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” starring John Krasinski, while Hulu ran a trailer for new series, “Castle Rock,” starring Sissy Spacek and Bill Skarsgard, among others.

HBO ran a spot for the second season of “Westworld.