And the Oscar goes to… Amazon?

There are many benefits associated with Amazon Prime, faster shipping being the popular reason why someone would subscribe to the service. However, as non-traditional viewing habits continue to increase, the best reason may actually be Prime Video.

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Amazon’s service is similar to that of Netflix, offering a large library of ready to stream movies and TV, but Amazon differentiates itself in that it also allows customers to rent or buy movies that are not already included in the service. Although many people enjoy that Netflix is the same cost every month and that it is constantly updated with fresh content, Amazon prime is as well. But when a new movie comes out, or something disappears from Netflix, you can most likely still rent it for a few dollars on Amazon.

As streaming services like Prime Video have become more popular and similar, they have been forced to find ways to differentiate themselves. For Netflix and Amazon in particular, this has meant original content.

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

Netflix has a strong track record with its original content. Succeeding with shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Narcos, to name a few. Netflix has not shown signs of slowing down either, spending around $5 billion in 2016, and a planned $6 billion in 2017. This focus on original content has driven many to purchase Netflix subscriptions, a Cowen report found that 58% of Netflix’s subscribers pay the monthly fee specifically for the original content.

It is no mistake that Amazon, who followed Netflix with streaming video, is following in the footsteps and creating original content as well.

One of the biggest shows that Amazon produced was The Grand Tour. For those of you who loved Top Gear as much as I did, this alone made Prime Video worth it. The show garnered millions of viewers around the world. The shows popularity has even made Netflix consider a car show of its own to try to compete with The Grand Tour.

In a large part due to Amazons original content, its prime video viewership more than doubled in 2016. This is in a large part due to prime video being available in over 200 countries and territories around the world. Amazon is particularly excited about the launch of prime video in India where they are planning to produce original content with some of the countries largest stars, both directors and actors.

What makes Amazon really stand out though, is that it did something that no other streaming service has done, not even Netflix, it received an Academy Award nomination for best picture. Amazon took an admittedly different route than Netflix, who prefers releasing its original content on the website rather than in theaters first, by giving Manchester by the Sea a traditional theaters first. Now that it has two academy awards under its belt, one for best actor and one for best original screenplay, the movie will make its way to Prime Video on May 5th. It is this strategy that may have helped Amazon and hurt Netflix. Many large theater chains refuse to show Netflix originals if they are also going to be available to stream on the same day. This has cause Netflix to make a deal with a small theater company with locations in New York and Los Angeles. The purpose of the deal is to make the content eligible to qualify for the Academy Awards. To be eligible a film has to be in theaters in Los Angeles for a week.

Although Amazon is the only streaming service to receive a nomination for best picture, it is not the only service to win an Oscar. Netflix has found its stride in the documentary categories at the Oscars. It has been nominated in each of the years since 2014 for best documentary, including this years nomination for 13th. However, even without winning a best documentary Oscar, Netflix did take home the award for best documentary short for The White Helmets. These categories have been more favorable to Netflix because they do not rely on the same theatrical releases that the other films require. This has allowed Netflix to stick to its strategy of releasing the content for streaming the same day as it would otherwise be in theaters.

Amazon also took home another Oscar this year for the best foreign language film, The Salesman.

It will be interesting to see as we approach awards season in future years if Amazon and Netflix continue to make strides into the film community. Both streaming services have benefitted from the publicity and popularity of their original content, and it will be interesting to see how that continues to grow and change over time. I am interested to see if Amazon will change its release strategy to be more like Netflix, or if it will continue with its current strategy because they have been successful with it.

8 comments

  1. Great post! I really enjoyed Amazon’s movie Manchester by the Sea. I thought they did a great job with the cast and going forward, I will be sure to continue to give movies made by Amazon a chance. Similar to you, I also wonder what Amazon and Netflix will do in the coming years to expand their position in the film community. I remember reading today that YouTube will be coming out with their own cable streaming network ( https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/28/youtube-launches-youtube-tv-its-live-tv-streaming-service/ ). With how expensive cable is today from companies like Comcast, it will be interesting to see if either Netflix or Amazon explore this route.

  2. Great article in response to the Oscars! I personally did not know that Amazon owned Manchester by the Sea or was even competing directly with Netflix in this space. I find it really interesting how Amazon spent $10 million to buy the movie, which I guess you could say paid off since it received an Academy Award and now have people like me more aware of their streaming services. Since Amazon is a powerhouse with the ability to pay millions for rights to movies, it will be interesting to see if Amazon could outspend Netflix in the future if it really wanted to exceed in this space. Really interesting post, and I will definitely be checking out Prime Video since I tend to like more variety when searching for content to watch.

  3. Nice post. Will be very interesting to see how content creators continue to evolve and monetize (and market) their content in new ways.

  4. I’m all in on the Amazon streaming services. I’ve watched the first two seasons of the Man in the High Castle, which is one of their original content shows, and absolutely love it. It was really well done and I’m absolutely going to give more of their shows a chance. I havent seen Manchester by the Sea yet, and to be honest I didnt know it was an Amazon production, but that just adds to the fact that they are becoming a powerhouse in so much more than just their online shopping

  5. I’m definitely more attached to Netflix for its original content than I am to Amazon for what they offer. But after seeing Manchester by the Sea I could definitely see Amazon winning over a portion of the population that might actually enjoy new content from them. Especially considering Amazon already has so many customer subscribed to its Prime service for shopping reasons, it’s amazing to think how many people pay for both and really only use Netflix for regular TV content. Amazon definitely has a huge opportunity be even more competitive with Netflix going forward.

  6. Great post looking at of the most dominant players in streaming industry. What I find interesting is that Netflix’s core business is streaming – whereas it’s more of an offshoot for Amazon. It seems whatever Bezos touches turns to gold. Regardless, two tech-focused companies competing for academy awards speaks to evolution that’s taken place in the film/media industry in the past decade.

  7. Really interesting post! I had no idea Manchester by the Sea was an Amazon creation. I’m curious how Netflix and Amazon have both been so successful with their original content. So many shows and movies produced by traditional media have been flops, so what special sauce are Amazon and Netflix using to make their shows such a hit? I also wonder if/when Amazon will fully break Prime and Prime video into two separate, more expensive payment plans.

  8. Great post, really informative. I always thought that Prime Video was the same exact thing as Netflix but after reading this I see that it’s not. It’s also really interesting to think about how both Netflix and Amazon are being nominated in award shows for original content. It really makes you wonder whether or not these two players could completely disrupt the film industry in a few years. Amazon’s already disrupted the retail industry, the book industry, the cloud technology industry and they’re looking into ways to disrupt the grocery business. Add tv/film to the list?

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