Amazon Joins Netflix in the Future of TV

Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has taken a cue from Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) and will produce television shows of its own for distribution through online streaming. Unlike Netflix, which has taken a safe, inconspicuous route to delivering its own quality content–some of which, like House of Cards, stars top-billing talent like Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey–Amazon has decided to take the competitive, conspicuous  path to drum up some awareness. Pilot episodes for six children’s shows and eight sitcoms are online through the the Amazon.com website, and the company wants its users to decide which ones get to become shows.

Venture Beat notes that Amazon’s streaming service–Amazon Instant Prime Video–boasts more than 33,000 movies and television episodes that can be instantly streamed. Amazon announced in May 2012 that it would start producing its own original content. This competition to see which shows see the light of day makes the process more democratized. However, streaming video is just a part of what Amazon does. The company’s streaming video service is a perk of being an Amazon Prime member, which costs $79 a year but includes free two-day shipping on many items.

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The six children’s shows up for review are Annebots, Creative Galaxy, Positively Ozitively, Sara Solves It, Teeny Tiny Dogs, and Tumbleaf. The eight sitcoms are Alpha HouseBetasBrowsersDark MinionsOnion News EmpireSupanaturalThose Who Can’t and Zombieland. Watching any of these pilots requires an Amazon Prime membership but free, one-month trials are available on the website.

Monday is when Netflix will report its first quarter earnings, and it will be the first publicly available data for investors about how House of Cards is doing for the company. According to CNN Money, the Netflix original series cost $100 million for two seasons. Attracting new subscribers is crucial in content distribution and like Amazon, Netflix offers free, one-month trials.

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Netflix was recently declared “now likely the most-watched cable network” by BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield. According to Greenfield’s analysis, the average American Netflix subscriber streams 87 minutes of content through the service each day. Amazon has a ways to go before it can challenge Netflix for streaming dominance. However, Amazon does not want its customers to just watch, it ultimately wants them to buy from its online store.

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