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Becca Candeland, head of broadcast at Total Media, reflects on Amazon’s growing content library with the acquisition of the NFL rights one year before initially planned. She believes it is catching SVOD competitors. 

At the start of the pandemic I tried my hand at baking banana bread, because that’s what everyone else was doing. After one poor attempt, I remembered my roots and have been firmly planted in front of the TV ever since. “Shall we watch Netflix, Amazon or Disney Plus tonight?” became the new “where should we go for dinner?”, and seeing friends was replaced by spending quality time with our favorite characters on-screen.

And while much of the UK has been locked in and logged on, competition between the big three has grown fierce as they’ve all sought to capitalize on the vastly growing streaming market. Whether it’s Netflix investing heavily in original shows or Disney Plus adding new channels to its offering, the streaming giants have been flexing their muscles in recent months. With Amazon Prime Video acquiring exclusive rights to NFL’s Thursday Night Football – diversifying its offer further – it’s clear that the tech giant is starting to catch up to competitors. 

Differentiation is key

Tapping into sports highlights Amazon’s impressive diversification of content compared to its competitors. Yes, DAZN is known for offering sports streaming content, but it only shows sports. Now on Amazon Prime Video consumers can choose to watch a box set of their favorite TV show, a new movie or exclusive UK streaming of the NFL – something you won’t get on Disney Plus or Netflix. Audience viewing behavior is dictated by content, rather than loyalty to a platform, so this will likely be a driving force for sports fans to subscribe to Prime and consider a streaming platform over linear TV. 

The key to cutting through in this space is the ability to stand out. Whether that’s with the NFL, English Premier League or US Open tennis, the aim is to cater to all viewing needs.

The other main differentiating point for Amazon Prime Video is Amazon Prime itself. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos famously once said that Amazon was the first company to use the Golden Globes to sell toilet paper. While the statement from Bezos is stark, it does highlight a wider point about the tech giant’s business model. The company can use the NFL deal and other streaming agreements to push people towards its retail business, while also using Prime delivery to get people to watch shows like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Boys. 

While recent figures show that Amazon is not currently able to compete for scale with Netflix (39% household penetration v 45% respectfully), Prime Video is starting to show promising results to bridge that gap. Amazon Prime accounted for almost half of all new UK subscriptions in Q4 2020, and despite purchase delivery being its main appeal, Amazon’s latest results show that watching is on the rise.

What is Amazon’s end zone?

The three streaming giants are all at war and the landscape has been filled with one-upmanship for a while now. Amazon, however, is playing a slightly different game to its competitors. Yes, it wants to diversify its content and appeal to a wider audience with its streaming platform, but its goals are bigger than just entertainment.

It is strengthening its seat at the table of every industry beyond just Prime membership – be it Amazon Web Services, Prime gaming or Chime. It wants to drive revenue across the board, so having as many avenues as possible into the Amazon ecosystem is key. And once you’re in, you’re in.

Pulling audiences into the wider ecosystem has always been the ultimate end zone for Amazon, but it’s clear from its investment in the NFL that it views streaming as an important branch. By diversifying content, it’s sure to be a touchdown for Amazon. 

From late April until early May, The Drum is taking a deep dive into what’s in store for the small screen as we launch our Future of TV hub.