Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos said he is transitioning to executive chairman in the third quarter, ending Sept. 30. The world’s richest man will see his CEO title assumed by Andy Jassy at that time. Jassy has been with Amazon since 1997, and was instrumental in the development of Amazon Web Services, arguably the company’s most-profitable operating unit.
“If you do it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. That yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive,” the 57-year-old Bezos said in a statement. “When you look at our financial results, what you’re actually seeing are the long-run cumulative results of invention. Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”
The e-commerce pioneer posted record fourth-quarter and fiscal-year (ended Dec. 31, 2020) results. The company generated $125.5 billion in quarterly revenue, up 44% from $87.4 billion in the previous-year period. Annual revenue topped an eye-watering $386 billion, up almost 38% from $280.5 billion in 2019.
Online sales in Q4 topped $66.4 billion, up 46% from sales of $45.6 billion in the previous-year period. For the year, sales topped $197 billion. E-commerce includes myriad products, but the Seattle-based company points out that revenue includes media products available in both a physical (DVD and 4K UHD and Blu-ray Disc) and digital format, such as books, music, videos, games and software. These product sales include digital products sold on a transactional basis.
Prime Video continued to launch Amazon Original series and movies globally. Amazon Original movie Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, starring Sacha Baron Cohen, generated tens of millions of customer streams globally on opening weekend. Other Amazon Original movies included Uncle Frank, Sylvie’s Love, Sound of Metal and I’m Your Woman. New and returning Amazon Original series and specials included “What the Constitution Means to Me,” “Utopia,” “Truth Seekers,” “The Pack,” “Small Axe,” “The Wilds,”
“The Expanse,” “Yearly Departed” and the final season of “Vikings.”
Internationally, locally produced Amazon Originals debuting included “FERRO” (Italy), “El Cid “(Spain), “The Challenge: ETA”(Spain), “BILD.Macht.Deutschland?” (Germany), “Binge Reloaded” (Germany), “Truth Seekers” (UK), “The Grand Tour: A Massive Hunt” (UK), “All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur” (UK), “The Bachelorette” (Japan), “Mirzapur” (India) and “Locas por el Cambio” (Mexico).
The fourth quarter marked Prime Video’s strongest viewership for live sports globally. In the U.S., Prime Video’s exclusive coverage of the San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals game on Dec. 26 drew an estimated 11.2 million total viewers and delivered the highest digital average-minute-audience ever for an NFL regular season game.
In the U.K., the number of customers tuning into live Premier League football grew for the second season as millions watched 22 live and exclusive matches on Prime Video. In addition, millions of Prime members streamed live, international rugby for the first-ever Autumn Nations Cup tournament; and in India, Prime Video announced its first foray into live sports, with the acquisition of India territory rights for New Zealand Cricket through 2025-26.
Amazon Studios announced deals for upcoming Prime Video series and movies, including the Eddie Murphy comedy Coming 2 America, which premieres in March on Prime Video globally and an unscripted docuseries and new coming of-age series based on Jessica Simpson’s best-selling memoir Open Book.
The CW’s “Superman & Lois” was the top anticipated new show, and the CBC’s “Workin’ Moms” the top anticipated returning show, on the TV Time Charts for February.
TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the company. TV Time’s “Anticipation Report” is based on data from those users.
“Superman & Lois,” debuting on the CW Feb. 23, follows the famous superhero and journalist, who after years of facing supervillains, monsters, and aliens, try to deal with the stress and complexities that come with raising two boys as working parents.
Season five of the comedy “Workin’ Moms” debuts Feb. 16 on Canada’s CBC.
Netflix took two of the top five spots on the new show chart. At No. 4 was “Firefly Lane,” debuting Feb. 3. It follows Tully and Kate, who meet as young girls on Firefly Lane and become inseparable friends throughout 30 years of ups and downs. At No. 5 was “Tribes of Europa,” hitting screens Feb. 19. Set in 2070, it follows three siblings trying to change the fate of Europe after a global catastrophe fractures it into countless micro-states fighting for dominance.
Among other streamers, Apple TV+’s “For All Mankind” came in at No. 3 and Amazon’s “The Family Man” at No. 4 on the returning shows chart. Both debut their sophomore seasons in February. The alt-history series “For All Mankind” moves to 1983 in the midst of the Cold War, where tensions between the U.S. and the USSR are at their peak. “The Family Man” is an Indian spy series.
Episodes from four new international programs from “Walter Presents” will be added to the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in February: “Fear by the Lake,” “Presumed Guilty,” “Luna & Sophie” and “Agathe Koltès: Murder in Brittany.”
The subscription rate for the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.
Season one of the French crime drama “Fear by the Lake Season” is available Feb. 5. Lise Stocker and Clovis Bouvier are facing a completely new threat when several people are suddenly struck down by a mysterious and deadly disease. A virus is spreading in the French alpine city of Annecy. It’s a race against the clock to find out where the virus came from and to stop its spread from becoming an epidemic.
The Spanish series “Presumed Guilty” is available Feb. 12. In an idyllic fishing village in the Basque Country of northern Spain, a terrible event forces Jon Aristegui, a researcher living and working in Paris, to come back to his birth town six years after leaving it. Upon his return, he will have to confront the ghosts of his past and a mystery that was never solved and haunts him to this day: the disappearance of his girlfriend Anne.
Season two of the German crime drama “Luna & Sophie” debuts Feb. 19. Childhood best friends, the female investigative duo Luna and Sophie, return for a second season of crime fighting. The new cases tangle Luna and Sophie’s personal and professional lives together, as Luna’s father, who has been incarcerated in the Potsdam prison system, suddenly comes back into their lives, claiming to have witnessed a murder. Sophie starts an affair with a colleague on the team, which not only strains her marriage, but her friendship with Luna. When a hostage is taken in a Potsdam jewelry store, the case takes an unexpected turn. Then a mission into the deepest part of Brandenburg shows Luna and Sophie that the world there is completely different.
The French crime drama “Agathe Koltès: Murder in Brittany” debuts Feb. 26. At 50, police commander Agathe Koltès is beautiful, funny and charming. She’s about to take up a post in a small town in Brittany, where everybody is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the great veteran cop. What nobody knows is that Mathilde Sirach, the young police captain who was fiercely opposed to Koltès’ coming, is actually her daughter. They haven’t seen each other in years. As expected, the mother-and-daughter reunion is stormy, but soon their investigations will lead them to rediscover the strong love and bond they have for each other.
In a surprise move, the Amazon-owned ad-supported VOD service IMDb TV is getting app placement on the Roku platform. IMDb TV is a direct AVOD competitor to The Roku Channel. The Roku platform had more than 51 million registered accounts at the end of 2020.
IMDb TV, which is also available to 50 million registered accounts on Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Prime Video service, has moved up the ladder against Roku, ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV, Fox Entertainment’s Tubi and NBCUniversal’s Peacock in the the increasingly competitive AVOD market.
IMDb TV original content includes spy drama “Alex Rider” and “Moment of Truth,” among other licensed fare from Amazon Studios and third parties.
“We are thrilled to provide customers a seamless and easy way to view our content with the distribution of our IMDb TV app on millions of Roku devices,” Mark Eamer, VP of IMDb TV, OTT and brand advertising, said in a statement.
Four new “Masterpiece” programs and several international series will be streaming on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in January.
“Masterpiece” titles include a new adaptation of “All Creatures Great and Small,” starring Dame Diana Rigg in one of her last appearances, the newest “Masterpiece Mystery” installment “Miss Scarlet & the Duke,” “Elizabeth Is Missing” based on the acclaimed novel starring Oscar-winner Glenda Jackson, and “The Long Song” based on the award-winning novel.
The subscription rate for the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.
“Elizabeth Is Missing,” debuting Jan. 3, stars Jackson as the feisty grandmother Maud Horsham, a woman desperately trying to solve two mysteries as she declines ever deeper into dementia. Maud’s only friend, Elizabeth, ominously goes missing, leaving Maud determined to find her. The other mystery in Maud’s mind is a puzzle from her past, kindled when she unearths the top of an old cosmetics compact while gardening with Elizabeth. The discovery takes Maud back to her teenaged self and like many younger siblings, Maud looked up to her big sister, Sukey, considering her the height of glamour. This childhood idyll ended with Sukey’s failure to come home one night in 1949, never to be seen again. As Maud thinks back on it, she wonders if the family’s lodger at the time, Douglas, had anything to do with Sukey’s vanishing. And the cryptic warnings from the long-ago mad woman with the umbrella only deepens the riddle. In her increasingly disoriented perception, the disappearances of Sukey and now Elizabeth get mixed up. She attacks the problem with a system she uses around the house: sticky notes, posted everywhere, documenting daily reminders to herself — mostly about locking the door or turning off the stove, but also recording her meetings with Elizabeth and chance observations. Maud’s granddaughter, Katy, helps her arrange the notes. As memories, clues, and deductions pile up, viewers come to see the world as Maud does, and solve the mystery as this tenacious, vision-haunted sleuth does.
“All Creatures Great and Small,” debuting Jan. 10, is based on the autobiographical books by James Herriot and tells the adventures of a veterinarian in 1930s Yorkshire. The series takes place in 1937, when James Herriot, fresh out of Glasgow Veterinary College, follows his dream to become a vet in the magnificent Yorkshire Dales, one of England’s most beloved and beautiful landscapes. He soon discovers that treating the animals is as much about treating their owners, and the Dales’ farmers are a tough crowd to please. At Skeldale House, James gets to know his newly formed dysfunctional family: his chaotic and erratic boss Siegfried Farnon, his wayward brother Tristan and the shrewd Mrs. Hall, who is endlessly steering the ship. When local beauty Helen Alderson attracts James’s attention, he finds another, more enduring reason to stay in the Dales. The late Dame Diana Rigg plays Mrs. Pumphrey, the delightfully eccentric owner of the overly indulged Pekingese Tricki Woo.
“Miss Scarlet & the Duke,” coming Jan. 17, is set in the same 1850s London society that gave rise to Jack the Ripper. The Victorian detective drama features a fearless, independent heroine played by Kate Phillips (“Peaky Blinders”). With her inquisitive mind, Miss Eliza Scarlet has always been more interested in running her late father’s detective agency than behaving like a proper lady, much to the chagrin of family friend Inspector William Wellington of Scotland Yard (Stuart Martin, “Jamestown”). But nothing has prepared her for the dangers she is about to face as a woman in the murder investigation trade.
“The Long Song,” due Jan. 31, is an adaptation of the award-winning novel by Andrea Levy set during the final days of slavery in 19th century Jamaica. The story follows the strong-willed, young slave July on a sugar plantation owned by her odious mistress Caroline Mortimer. When a charming new arrival to the island, Robert Goodwin, becomes the new overseer, July and Caroline are both intrigued by his seemingly revolutionary determination to improve the plantation for the slaves and mistress alike.
“As Time Goes By: Reunion Specials,” available Jan 26, is the continuation to the long running series “As Time Goes By.” “Reunion Specials” follows up as Jean Pargetter’s (Dame Judi Dench) great anticipation for grandchildren is revealed much to husband Lionel’s (Geoffrey Palmer) dismay. With son-in-law Alistair and daughter Judy having problems things don’t look too promising. But will Jean’s dream of becoming a grandmother come true when their other daughter Sandy and her husband Harry return from Canada?
Also due in January are five “Walter Presents” series.
The French series “Walter Presents: Due North” is streaming starting Jan. 1. Set on the verge of the 20th century, “True North” is the untold story of the colonization of the Laurentian mountain rage in Quebec known as the “Wild West.” The series explores the turbulent period of the settlement and development of this northern region of Canada as the territory wreaks havoc on the new colony and an array of colorful characters try to make their mark
The German series “Walter Presents: The Nordic Murders” is coming Jan. 8. On the secluded island of Usedom off the north shore of Germany, former district attorney Karin Lossow has just been released from prison after serving a six-year sentence for shooting her husband. Her daughter Julia is the Detective Chief Inspector and their fragile relationship is put to the test as they team up to investigate criminal cases on the island.
The French-language series “Walter Presents: The Wall” is coming Jan. 15. In the remote Canadian mining colony Fremote, in the endless frozen hell that is the far North, the body of a young exotic dancer is found. The Quebec City police sends one of their toughest, most experienced detectives, Céline, to the colony to investigate. She is always up for a challenge. Being cooped up in the massive structure that is the colony which the inhabitants call “The Wall,” soon presents her with some challenges that exceed her investigative efforts. Not only does everyone here seem to have a secret and a connection to the victim, Céline’s own past has a way of catching up with her. Her estranged daughter Sophie has built a life of her own in the very same icy middle of nowhere where Céline is currently working. As Céline comes under increased pressure to find the killer of the dancer, she has to connect the dots to the suspicious death of a young boy three years ago. The inhabitants of the mine each think they know exactly who the culprit is, creating a sense of distrust and alarm among the community, but one fear is always present: will the murderer strike again soon?
Season three of the Italian series “Walter Presents: Rocco Schiavone” starts streaming Jan. 22. Deputy Police Commissioner Rocco Schiavone finds himself more and more alone, in the increasingly colder and inhospitable city of Aosta, forced to come to terms with everything that has happened. His best friend, Sebastiano, is under house arrest and refuses to speak to him as he’s convinced that Rocco had him arrested before he could kill Enzo Baiocchi, the man who murdered his wife. Rocco’s future doesn’t look great after Sebastiano escapes house arrest and everything in Rocco’s life starts to fall apart. It appears that he has no choice but to escape, leaving no trace of his whereabouts.
From the acclaimed novel by Louise Edrich comes the adapted historical German drama “Walter Presents: The Master Butcher,” due Jan. 29. After the social and financial destruction caused by World War I in Germany, a German butcher, and former military sniper, attempts to create a better life for himself and his family by moving to the United States. As the family struggles to acclimate to their new surroundings, many unexpected events occur, necessitating their plans and their lives to drastically adapt.
Amazon-owned movie and TV data base IMDb.com Dec. 8 unveiled the Top 10 TV Shows of 2020 and, for the first time ever, the Top 10 Docuseries and Top 10 Reality and Competition TV Series. Rather than base its annual rankings on small statistical samplings or reviews from professional critics, IMDb determines its list of most popular shows from its proprietary rankings of shows based on the actual page views of the more than 200 million monthly visitors to IMDb.
“Though reality TV was in its infancy when IMDb was founded 30 years ago, it’s grown enormously in terms of the diversity, scale and, in many cases, prestige of its offerings,” Brian Carver, head of content and licensing for IMDb, said in a statement.
Carver said 2020 proved to be a standout year for TV and streaming series, with an assortment of true breakout shows, turning many of these programs — including Amazon’s “The Boys,” Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit,” “Tiger King,” and ESPN’s “The Last Dance” and Netflix’s “Too Hot to Handle” — into cultural moments.
Keith Simanton, managing editor for IMDbPro, said it’s notable that many of the top reality programs have had exceptionally long runs, including an incredible 40 seasons of “Survivor” and 12 seasons of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
“We celebrate these shows for their ongoing creativity and longevity, keeping fans coming back for more, year after year,” Simanton said.
Among the new disc releases Nov. 17, the most notable retail exclusive was Best Buy’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook of Disney’s The New Mutants.
Best Buy offered the metal-encased edition for $34.99.
Disney’s long-running issues with Amazon seem to still be in effect, however, as the online retailer did not have New Mutant discs available in any capacity, even through third-party sellers. Amazon also still isn’t selling last week’s release of the live-action Mulan, which is offered only through third-party sellers.
The Nov. 3 release of Warner’s V for Vendetta 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc inspired a couple of retailer exclusives for the week.
While Best Buy offered its usual Steelbook edition, at $29.99, another exclusive came from Amazon, which packed the 2006 political thriller with collectible jail-cell packaging, a 32-page behind-the-scenes booklet and a letter from the director. Amazon’s version was listed at $49.99.
Also interesting at Best Buy: Many of the chain’s locations have been clearing out their DVD and Blu-ray inventory from the sales floor. A store in Costa Mesa, Calif., had just one long shelf stocked with product, plus a few standalone displays throughout the store, while the empty shelves that once contained movie and TV discs had been rearranged in the middle of the store and roped off.
Amazon Oct. 29 said online sales in the third quarter, ended Sept. 30, increased 38% to a record $48. 35 billion, compared with $35 billion in the previous-year period. Online sales include myriad products, but the Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth points out that revenue includes media products available in both a physical (DVD and 4K UHD and Blu-ray Disc) and digital format, such as books, music, videos, games, and software. These product sales include digital products sold on a transactional basis.
Meanwhile, Amazon reiterated its studio’s commitment toward the Amazon original movies slate with additions such as Sacha Baron Cohen’s political satire Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, which recently launched globally on Prime Video, as well as Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, starring Michael B. Jordan, slated to launch in 2021.
Amazon premiered several new and returning Amazon Original series, including “The Boys,” “Breathe Into the Shadows,” “Bandish Bandits,” “Mirzapur” and “Putham Pudhu Kaalai” in India, “Peep Time” and “Documental S8” in Japan; “Pan y Circo” in Mexico; and “All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur” in the U.K.
Amazon Prime Video also announced that live international rugby games will be exclusively available to U.K. Prime customers this winter with a brand new tournament called the Autumn Nations Cup. The tournament will feature England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales, as well as two guest teams from Fiji and Georgia.
Amazon announced that more than 100 million Fire TV devices have been sold globally, and Fire TV customers are streaming billions of hours each month. The new Fire TV devices claim to be 50% more powerful than the previous Fire Stick model, while using 50% less power. Amazon also introduced a redesigned Fire TV experience that provides new content-discovery features, enhanced Alexa voice integration, and user profiles for personalized recommendations.
Finally, Amazon Studios and Howard University announced they would partner for a second year of the Howard Entertainment Program, which aims to further diversify the entertainment industry by creating a pipeline of underrepresented talent, including black students, through internships and other educational opportunities.
The documentary was also free for 24 hours on Voter Registration day Sept. 22 outside of the Prime Video paywall.
In anticipation of the 2020 presidential election, All In: The Fight for Democracy examines the often overlooked, yet insidious issue of voter suppression in the United States. The film interweaves personal experiences with current activism and historical insight to expose a problem that has corrupted our democracy from the very beginning. With the perspective and expertise of Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, the documentary offers an insider’s look into laws and barriers to voting that most people don’t even know are threats to their basic rights as citizens of the United States.
All In: The Fight for Democracy is directed by Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Liz Garbus and Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Lisa Cortés, and produced by Garbus, Cortés, Academy Award-winning producer Dan Cogan and Abrams. Amazon Studios acquired worldwide rights to All In: The Fight for Democracy from production company Story Syndicate.