Times are changing and Amazon wants a piece of it all — from commerce, to media and everything in between.
That’s why it should have been no shock when Jeff Bezos got a shout out at another major awards show as Amazon picked up two coveted Golden Globes awards Sunday evening (Jan. 10).
This year Amazon picked up the award for Best Television Series for “Mozart In The Jungle,” along with best actor for the show (Gael Garcia Bernal). Last year, Amazon picked up two Emmy awards for its series “Transparent.” What’s interesting about these changing times is that Amazon has landed itself in a category labeled “Best Television Series,” particularly since many of its viewers could be viewing on a number of devices that don’t include a TV at all.
During both the Emmys and the Globe awards, the actors and producers were sure to thank one name that seems like it will become a regular at these award shows: Jeff Bezos. Amazon continues to bulk up its presence in virtually every sector — everything from commerce, delivery and media to the Internet of Things and cloud computing services — to help Bezos’ empire continue building momentum.
What Amazon has shown in the past year is that it’s got the ability to take on the once dominating Netflix (which failed to pick up any Golden Globes this year) in the world of television streaming. This aligns with Amazon’s efforts to be part of a consumer’s life in nearly every aspect — and through every device that a consumer may be possibly using.
And starting tomorrow, Amazon is even teaming up with the White House to live stream President Obama’s State of the Union Address. Users on any Amazon product (i.e. the Fire TV or TV stick) using Amazon video can live stream the entire speech – part of the White House’s continuing efforts to “meet voters where they are.”
Amazon also made it very clear last fall that it was heading into the streaming industry alone, and it wouldn’t have its marketplace serve as a site to sell competing devices, such as Apple TV or Google Chromecast. The official reason given by Amazon for pulling the Chromecast and the Apple TV is not that they compete with Amazon’s more recent entrance into the TV smartening area – the Fire TV – but instead that they “don’t cooperate well” with Amazon Instant Prime’s video streaming service.
But the obvious reason is that they bring less viewers away from Amazon’s own content. And it was in 2015 that it became very obvious that Amazon’s jump into content was far from over after the shows produced by Amazon Studios started picking up awards and gaining consumer attention.
And then, of course, there’s the one benefit of Amazon’s media side: It’s one of the perks of being an Amazon Prime member.
In late December, Amazon reported its annual holiday postmortem, which was when we learned that at least 3 million new members were added to Amazon Prime’s rolls this holiday season (in just a one-week period). Shockingly, Amazon did not disclose a specific number for total Amazon Prime membership, though the release does note it being in the “tens of millions” — a figure that would accurately describe any number of members between 20 million and 90 million.
The current going high-side estimate, care of Mark Mahaney of RBC Capital, pegs the global figure at around 80 million, with 50 million U.S. subscribers. Lower-end estimates peg U.S. enrollment in Prime at around 44 million (as of fall 2015). Amazon’s latest release also showed it added 500,000 products to Prime’s catalog that already has 20 million items through the Fulfillment by Amazon program. That boost can likely be attributed to Amazon allowing third-party merchants to be part of Prime but still use their own warehouses. Previously, those merchants had to store goods in Amazon’s warehouses, which deterred some.
And now, with Amazon’s media side connecting even more to its commerce side — all via its bread-and-butter service Prime, it’s becoming a bit clearer what’s in store for Amazon’s 2016.
We’ll certainly learn a lot more about that in a few weeks when the eCommerce giant reports its fourth quarter earnings and full 2015 results.