Amazon to Cut Prime Two-day Shipping to One Day

Amazon created the free shipping business model over two days for Prime members. Now, the ecommerce giant plans to cut that shipping time to one day worldwide.

Speaking April 25 on the fiscal call, CFO Brian Olsavsky said Amazon would spend upwards of $800 million in current second quarter on fulfillment expenses related to cutting the shipping window in half.

Amazon said it generated the largest number of new Prime members in 2018, due in large part to free shipping on more than 100 million items.

The company currently offers one-day, same-day and two-hour (Prime Now) shipping on select items for an additional fee. Most free shipments are two-day.

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“Our goal is to evolve the two-day shipping program into the one-day shipping program,” Olsavsky said. “We think that will open up a lot of potential purchases. We expect to make steady progress quickly and through the year.”

He said the switch would requiring building-out shipping capacity both internally and with third-party services such as UPS and the U.S. Post Office.

“We’ll just have to see what changes have to be made to get more [product} selection into that one-day category,” Olsavsky said.

Amazon last year became the largest single customer for Mercedes Sprinter vans in the world — a purchase it has incorporated into branded Prime delivery fleet.

“We really think it will be groundbreaking for Prime customers,” Olsavksy said.

 

 

“Contact,” “The Court” and “Inspector Falke” Among Six “Walter Presents” Foreign Series Streaming on PBS Masterpiece Prime Video in March

PBS Distribution in March will begin streaming six new series from the “Walter Present’s” library on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel –– “Contact,” “The Court,” “Dead Beautiful,” “Flight HS13,” “Framed” and “Inspector Falke.”

“Walter Presents,” which launched in January 2016 in the United Kingdom as a video-on-demand service and is a joint venture between Channel 4 and Global Series Network, partnered with PBS Distribution on Amazon Prime Video in October 2018. The PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is available to Prime members for $5.99 a month after a seven-day free trial.

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Eight episodes of the French series “Contact” will be available March 4. The series follows Thomas Jouannet, who was sentenced to life after avenging his parent’s brutal murder and the kidnapping of his sister. He is freed after serving only 15 years when he makes a deal with the FBI to use his extraordinary ability — psychometry — to solve crimes. When he touches an object, he feels the “psychic footprint” of its owner, envisioning its owner’s memories, emotions and secrets. However, there is one stipulation — he cannot leave the United States. But, once he receives a mysterious package containing an object that shows his brother in trouble, Thomas heads for France. Having broken the arrangement, he now has the FBI on his tail while trying to save his brother’s life.

Also streaming beginning March 4 are six episodes of the Icelandic series “The Court.” The legal drama follows the professional and personal lives of three Reykjavik lawyers. Logi is one of the country’s most brilliant legal minds and the most troubled. He’s determined to uncover the truth about what really happened one night in his youth — an incident that left a man dead and Logi in prison for manslaughter. But his internal demons threaten to send him spiraling into alcoholism. Standing between Logi and self-destruction are his colleagues — two lawyers, Brynhildur and Hordur, whose own private lives are far from simple.

Streaming beginning March 11 are nine episodes of the French crime drama “Dead Beautiful,” It centers on the self-loathing police commissioner Martin — a compassionate investigator who is dedicated to solving some of the most shocking crimes against women. While trying to solve these crimes, Martin also juggles the three women in his life: his ex-wife, the police psychiatrist and his girlfriend, journalist Marion. Each episode pits Martin against a new killer.

Streaming beginning March 18 are 10 episodes of the Dutch thriller “Flight HS13,” which follows Liz and Simon, a seemingly happily married couple who have everything they could possibly want ‚ a lovely son, a beautiful home and successful careers. But their perfect life is over when Simon boards a plane — flight HS13 — to attend a conference in Barcelona.  A few hours later, Liz’s world collapses when she hears Simon’s plane has crashed. No one survived. Very quickly her grief turns to shock and disbelief when she finds out that Simon never actually checked in for the flight. His name was not on the passenger list.

Streaming beginning March 25 are 10 episodes from another Dutch series “Framed.” Communications consultant Michael Bellicher has just received a promotion at his software firm and a party is being held in his honor to announce it. When an ex-lover appears, however, he lapses back into his unfaithful ways and things begin to spiral out of control. His wife is sick of it and packs her bags. Things suddenly get even worse when that ex-lover suddenly turns up dead. His identity is stolen, and he is forced to become a fugitive when he is framed for the murder.  Though family and friends doubt his innocence, Bellicher eventually forms an alliance with his newly transgender sister and a computer hacker, Vince. Together, they set out to uncover what is really going on.

Also streaming beginning March 25 are seven episodes of the German series “Inspector Falke.” Thorsten Falke is a devoted police officer who has traded in a family and a social life in the name of justice. Having grown up in the throes of Hamburg’s grimy underbelly, he is now proud to take a stand against crime in his hometown. Falke and his partner, Katharina Lorenz, work to bring down the ruthless criminal gangs threatening Hamburg.

Season Three of “Victoria,” Season Two of “No Limit” Coming to PBS Prime Video Channel in January

PBS Distribution will begin streaming two new series on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in January — the third season of the drama “Victoria” and the second season of the “Walter Presents” international drama “No Limit.”

A new episode of season three of “Victoria” will be available each Monday starting Jan. 14 on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video channel, available to Prime members for $5.99 per month after a seven-day free trial, and in PBS Passport, a member benefit for PBS station donors that offers extended access to public television programming.

Jenna Coleman returns as Queen Victoria in the third season (eight episodes) of “Victoria.” Continuing the story of Victoria’s rule, season three introduces new historical characters, including Laurence Fox (“Inspector Lewis”) as the vainglorious Lord Palmerston, who crosses swords with the queen over British foreign policy. Also vexing the queen this season is Kate Fleetwood (“Harlots”) as Victoria’s devoted but troubled half-sister, Princess Feodora, who seeks refuge at Buckingham Palace due to political unrest back home in Germany.

From film director Luc Besson brings comes the second season (eight episodes) of the French thriller series “No Limit,” with full seasons available on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel beginning Jan. 7. A former soldier diagnosed with a brain tumor is offered an experimental treatment that will keep him alive. The company behind this generous offer is Hydra, a mysterious Black Ops government organization, dedicated to fighting crime by any means necessary. In exchange for his treatment, the former French secret service agent takes on a series of clandestine missions for Hydra.

Amazon Touts Record Holiday Retail Season

Amazon Dec. 26 announced a record-breaking holiday season, with more items ordered worldwide than ever before. The e-commerce behemoth said consumers shopped at record levels from a wide selection of products across every department. Best-selling products this season included, all-new Echo Dot home speakers and Bose wireless headphones, among others.

“This season was our best yet. We are thrilled that in the U.S. alone, more than one billion items shipped for free this holiday with Prime,” Jeff Wilke, CEO worldwide consumer, said in a statement.

Among retail highlights:

  • Customers purchased millions more Amazon Devices this holiday season compared to last year – the best-selling Amazon Devices this holiday included all-new Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick 4K with all-new Alexa Voice Remote, and Echo.
  • It was a record holiday season for Amazon’s Kids Edition devices; customers purchased more Echo Dot Kids Edition and Fire Kids Edition tablets than ever before.
  • Customers purchased millions of Amazon Fire TV, Fire Tablet, and Kindle products this holiday season.
  • Ring and Blink sold more devices this holiday season than ever before, as more and more customers are keeping their homes safe.
  • Customers made their homes even smarter this year with a record number of smart home devices sold on com; best-selling smart home devices included Amazon Smart Plug, Ring Video Doorbell 2, TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug Mini Outlet, and the iRobot Roomba 690.
  • Customers used Alexa to listen to hundreds of millions more hours of music this holiday season compared to last holiday season, and on even more services – including Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music, among others.
  • Customers asked Alexa to turn on their holiday lights tens of millions of times this holiday season, with the number one request being “Alexa, turn on the Christmas tree.”
  • Alexa delivered 8x as many reminders this holiday season compared to last.
  • Alexa set more than one hundred million timers this holiday season.
  • Customers requested nearly 3x as many recipes this holiday season compared to last and asked Alexa for cooking-related advice twice as much.
  • Alexa helped mix hundreds of thousands of cocktails this holiday season – with eggnog and Moscow Mule being the most requested drinks.
  • From carolers to delivery drivers and holiday guests, customers received millions of doorbell and motion announcements via Alexa this holiday season.
  • Customers were in to the festive spirit with Alexa Skill Blueprints – popular Blueprints this holiday season were The Holiday Story, Santa’s Letter, and the Hallmark Holiday Greeting.
  • The number one holiday song that customers requested this holiday season was “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey.
  • This holiday season, customers listened to more than one million holiday stories from Amazon Storytime on Alexa – the most popular holiday story was Rapping Paper.
  • Customers around the world asked Alexa how many days or sleeps until Christmas this holiday season – customers in the United Kingdom were the most excited, asking twice as much as customers in any other country.
  • Customers used Alexa nearly twice as much on Fire TV devices this holiday season compared to the same time period last year.
  • The best-selling electronics this holiday season included Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones, the Samsung Flat 65″ 4K UHD 8 Series Smart LED TV, Apple iPad (Wi-Fi, 32GB) in Space Gray, Wemo Mini Smart Plug, Blue Yeti USB Microphone in Blackout, Wyze Cam 1080p HD Indoor Wireless Smart Home Camera, and HP Sprocket Photo Paper.
  • The best-selling items at Amazon Books this holiday season included Becomingby Michelle Obama, Diary of a Wimpy Kid #13: Meltdown by Jeff Kinney, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, Kindle Paperwhite, all-new Echo Dot, and the L.O.L. Surprise! Bling Series toys.

 

Amazon Bows ‘Critically Acclaimed’ Page Showcasing Globally Nominated, Winning Movies and TV Shows

Amazon has developed a niche revenue stream endorsing third-party over-the-top video services through its Prime Channels platform. Now, the e-commerce behemoth has launched a page/link highlighting original and third-party movies and TV shows garnering the industry recognition worldwide.

Dubbed “Critically Acclaimed,” the page showcases movies and TV shows nominated for, and winners of the Golden Globes, Oscars, Emmys, Golden Lion (Italy), Filmfare (India), BAFTA (United Kingdom), Sundance, Golden Bear (Germany), Cannes (France), Golden Leopard (Switzerland), and European Film Academy recognition.

Separately, Amazon released its January slate of new series and movies available for rent, purchase and streaming on Prime Video.

Available for purchase:

Jan. 8

The Old Man & The Gun

Available for streaming:

Jan. 13

“True Detective, Season 3,” HBO

“Vera, Season 9,” Britbox

Jan. 14

“Victoria, Season 3,” PBS Masterpiece

Jan. 17

“Star Trek: Discovery, Season 2,” CBS All Access

January 20

“Crashing, Season 3,” HBO

“High Maintenance, Season 3,” HBO

“SMILF, Season 2,” Showtime

“Shameless, Season 9,” Showtime

“Black Monday, Season 1,” Showtime

Jan. 21

 “Big Brother: Celebrity Edition, Season 2,” CBS All Access

New series on Prime Video:

Jan. 1

 “The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle. Season 1b” (Prime Original series),

“Breaking Big, Season 1”

“Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Seasons 1, 5-19”

“First Civilizations, Season 1”

“Frontline, Season 36”

“Nova Wonders, Season 1”

Movies:

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Alpha Dog (2006)

Brazil (1985)

GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II (2018)

Going to War (2018)

Jane Eyre (2011)

Reprisal (2018)

Rwanda: The Royal Tour (2018)

The Art of the Shine (2018)

The Jazz Ambassadors (2018)

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

 Jan. 3

Leave No Trace (2018)

Jan. 4

Beautiful Boy (Prime Original movie)

Sherlock Gnomes (2018)

Jan. 11

“Informer,Season 2” (Prime Original series)

Jan. 12

Final Score

Jan. 13

Eighth Grade (2018)

Jan. 16

The Debt (2010)

Jan. 18

 “The Grand Tour, Season 3” (Prime Original series)

Jan. 19

Fahrenheit 11/9 (2018)

Jan. 25

“Four More Shots Please! Season 1” (Prime Original series)

Escobar: Paradise Lost (2014)

Jan. 29

“Endeavour, Season 5”

 

Amazon Says Fire TV Stick Most-Purchased Prime Item in 2018

Amazon Dec. 2 announced that its branded Fire TV Stick streaming media device with Alexa voice-recognition software was the top-selling item for Prime members in 2018.

That was followed by the Echo Dot home speaker – which was also one of the most gifted items during the week leading up to both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and the best-selling product on Amazon during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday weekend.

The $119 annual Amazon Prime membership platform, which includes Prime Video, is available in 17 countries. Prime Video is available globally and separately for $8.99 monthly.

Top home entertainment honors in the U.S. went to original TV series, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (most awarded show – 8 Emmy Awards – on Prime Video),“Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” starring John Krasinski, and “Homecoming,” starring Julia Roberts in her first TV show (most binged shows on Prime Video), and Justin Timberlake (most streamed artist on Prime Music).

Notably, “X-Ray,” the bonus material feature available on Prime Video that allows viewers to go behind the scenes of movies and TV shows and get access to cast photos, bios, filmographies, sound track info and trivia, continues to resonate with Prime members.

The top-five series and movies Prime members worldwide used X-Ray included “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Psych,” “The Grand Tour,” “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” and “Vikings.”

Movies included Baywatch; Jack Reacher: Never Go Back; Transformers: The Last Knight; Twilight; and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

“Prime members worldwide ordered more than two billion products for one-day delivery or faster in the last year, which is pretty amazing,” Cem Sibay, VP of Amazon Prime, said in a statement.

Prime Video stats include:

The top three cities worldwide that streamed the most hours of Prime Video per capita include Santa Clara, Calif., Norderstedt, Germany; and Tokai, Japan.

Prime members in the U.S., U.K. and India streamed more Prime Video than any other country between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. local time.

Night owls in Japan, Germany and Spain streamed more Prime Video than any other country between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. local time.

The nine NFL games thus far on Prime Video and Twitch have combined to reach 20 million total viewers in over 200 countries and territories and all 50 U.S. states.

The top three American cities that streamed the most minutes of Thursday Night Football so far this year include Atlanta, Denver and Seattle.

 The most streamed music artist was Justin Timberlake. Prime members’ favorite albums included Man of the Woods by Justin Timberlake, Camila by Camila Cabello, Astroworld by Travis Scott and Mitchell Tenpenny EP by Mitchell Tenpenny.

Favorite songs sold (and recommended by Alexa) included “The Middle,” by Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey; “Lose It,” by Kane Brown; “Idgaf,” by Dua Lipa; “Better Now,” by Post Malone; and “Done for Me,” by Charlie Puth, featuring Kehlani.

Other Prime member favorites included televisions such as the TCL 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV, LG Electronics 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV, Samsung 65-Inch 4K Smart TV

.

 

Jeff Bezos: ‘Amazon Not Too Big to Fail’

With a market cap approaching $800 billion, and fresh off a well-publicized search for a second corporate headquarter that saw hundreds of cities and local governments outbid each other with billions in incentives, Amazon’s perch atop the retail/e-commerce food chain would appear eternal.

Not so, according to founder/CEO Jeff Bezos, who, when reportedly asked about the burgeoning growth of the company and its ramifications in a staff meeting at the Seattle headquarters, said Amazon would one day perish.

“Amazon is not too big to fail,” said Bezos, according to a recording of the Nov. 8 meeting obtained by CNBC. “In fact, I predict one day Amazon will fail. Amazon will go bankrupt. If you look at large companies, their lifespans tend to be 30-plus years, not a hundred-plus years.”

Bold talk considering Amazon has generated more than $7 billion in profit and $160 billion in revenue in just nine months this year. The company remains one of the largest retailers of packaged and digital media.

And despite spending billions on original content, Amazon continues to promote the “free” Prime Video streaming video service largely as a loss-leader marketing tool – a strategy that unnerves Netflix co-founder/CEO Reed Hastings.

“They are so scary,” Hastings told CNBC in a separate interview last year. “Everything Amazon does is so amazing. How are they doing so many business areas so well? We are continuing to watch them and be impressed with them.”

The company has more than 600,000 employees globally, with plans to add 50,000 more between new co-headquarters in Arlington, Va., and Queens, N.Y.

Amazon is also adding 5,000 employees to a tech center in Nashville, Tenn.

But Bezos warned that failure often follows companies that become more involved with their image than the needs of their customers.

“That will be the beginning of the end,” Bezos said. “We have to try and delay that day for as long as possible.”

But as CNBC learned talking to some Amazon employees, internal image is not what concerns most staffers. Instead, government regulation and antitrust issues do.

Indeed, the European Union and Japan are separately looking into antitrust issues involving Amazon merchant data. In the United States, President Trump has long voiced concern about Amazon’s relationship with the U.S. Postal Service, taxes, impact on small retailers and other issues.

Some observers contend Trump’s apparent animus against Amazon is largely fueled by the fact that The Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos, often criticizes the president and his policies in print and online.

 

‘Breaking Big’ Due on DVD, ‘Jamestown’ Streaming in November from PBS Distribution

“Breaking Big,” a documentary series that explores the unexpected journey to success of some of the world’s most influential artists, innovators, political leaders, athletes, authors and entrepreneurs, will be available on DVD Nov. 13 from PBS Distribution while season two of the series “Jamestown” will premiere on PBS Masterpiece Prime video and PBS Passport streaming services Nov. 21.

The epic drama “Jamestown,” from the makers of Downton Abbey and written by Bill Gallagher (Lark Rise to Candleford, The Paradise), follows the lives of three women who leave their dark pasts behind in England to start new lives on the edge of the Virginian wilderness in the 17th century colony of Jamestown. Season two takes viewers back to a thriving colony, where the tobacco plantations are starting to provide the wealth they promised and trade booms, but the status quo will soon be disrupted by births, deaths and broken marriages.

A new episode of “Jamestown” will be available each Monday on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video channel, available to Prime members for $5.99/month after a seven-day free trial, and in PBS Passport, a member benefit for PBS station donors that offers extended access to public TV programming.

The Nov. 13 two-disc “Breaking Big” release ($34.99) features 12, 30-minute episodes. Produced by OZY Studios and hosted by Carlos Watson, the series looks at the twists and turns on the road to thriving careers for some notable figures in various fields. It features 12 talented men and women, from country music superstar Jason Aldean and former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, to Oscar-winning director Lee Daniels and chef and restaurateur Eddie Huang. All overcame obstacles and long odds. The program includes analysis from eminent social scientists, marketing experts, film critics, book editors and others to help viewers understand their risk-taking and bold moves.

PBS Inks Streaming Deal for International Dramas

PBS Distribution has inked a deal with Walter Presents, a streaming on-demand video service, to bring more than 300 hours of the international drama to Prime members on the PBS Masterpiece channel available on Prime Video Channels.

Starting Oct. 19, subscribers in the United States can access the Walter Presents collection of top, award-winning drama series from around the world for $5.99 per month after a seven-day free trial.

Curated by Walter Iuzzolino, whose venture first gained popularity in the United Kingdom, the library of international dramas includes series ranging from Nordic thrillers to French political dramas, all with English subtitling. Additionally, select top-tier titles will be chosen by PBS for broadcast on PBS stations and streaming on PBS Passport, a digital member benefit available through local stations.

“PBS Distribution has always offered the best British dramas. Expanding our Prime Video Channel to include the best of foreign language dramas is a natural fit, giving our subscribers access to premium international series,” said Andrea Downing, co-president, PBS Distribution, in a statement. “Walter Presents will deliver hand-selected global hits to our audience.”

“I’m delighted and excited to be partnering with PBS Distribution, a company synonymous with quality drama and premium programming,” said Walter Iuzzolino, co-founder and curator of Walter Presents, in a statement. “The PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel already provides audiences with a fabulous collection of British series. Now, subscribers will have access to some truly amazing global drama series providing a chance to enjoy the very best the rest of the world has to offer.”

Walter Presents series coming to PBS include “Norskov,” a Nordic noir story about a police detective fighting corruption in his home town; “13 Commandments,” a Belgian thriller about a self-proclaimed modern-day Moses Inspired by the 10 commandments who is committing a series of gruesome crimes in a bid to restore society’s moral standards; and “Professor T,” another Belgian series about an eccentric and socially inept criminal psychology genius who reluctantly becomes an advisor to the police.

Walter Presents launched in the United Kingdom on Channel 4’s on-demand service “All 4” in January 2016.

IHS: Amazon Device Owners Consume More Prime Video

The adage, “When in Rome …,” appears to apply to owners of Amazon media devices such as Kindle, Echo and Fire TV more than among other streaming device ecosystems.

New data from IHS Markit found that more than two-thirds of Fire TV owners subscribed to Prime Video in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2018 — a higher penetration than for any other connected streaming device, including Roku, Apple TV and Google Chromecast.

This noteworthy as brand loyalty is especially important in video, because entry prices for streaming devices are relatively low, and all of them offer somewhat uniform content offerings, so consumers have a wide range of choices.

While Apple changed the music landscape by tying its transactional music service to hardware more than a decade ago, it is now hard to lock consumers into one content ecosystem.

Consumers expect flexibility and the ability to access their content across devices, so building a fluid ecosystem ensures higher brand loyalty and trust, resulting in increased usage of devices and services and the likelihood of future purchases.

Indeed, Fire TV owners are also more likely to select Prime Video as the “best video service for content on the go” and “flexibility of viewing.” More than 25% of Prime Video subscribers believe Amazon provides the largest content catalog.

They are also twice as likely to turn to Prime Video first when looking for video content to watch.

The findings are part of IHS’ “Connected Devices and Media Consumption” survey conducted in April.

The data would appear to highlight the importance of a proprietary device and user interface that allows consumers to gain access to a wide range of content services, while enabling the device manufacturer to control the user experience.

The value-added benefits of offering streaming devices and video services, in terms of perception and usage along with the ability to maintain their direct-to-consumer relationships and interfaces, has driven other operators and device manufacturers to follow Amazon’s lead, according to IHS.

Fire TV was one of the top sellers in Amazon’s Prime Day in July, and there are rumors of an upcoming user experience update, which is likely to result in improved consumer engagement with Prime Video.