Amazon's Prime Video aims to be one-stop video entertainment hub

Amid a crowded and competitive streaming market, Amazon’s Prime Video is on a march to distinguish itself as a one-stop video entertainment destination that can serve a wide variety of viewer wants - and on as many devices as possible.

The streaming service from the e-commerce giant counts a range of video options. Its aggregated app experience spans SVOD with licensed and original TV series and films, live sports (including most notably NFL’s Thursday Night Football, as well events like NASCAR Cup Series races starting in 2025), free ad-supported programming in front of a paywall through the Freevee FAST, alongside other partner content subscriptions like AMC+, Max, or Paramount+ through Prime Video Channels, and a library of TVOD titles including new releases for rent or purchase through its Prime Video store. 

“We are what we believe is the premiere entertainment hub from an application perspective,” Andrew Bennett, VP and head of global video partnerships for Prime Video, MGM+ and Freevee, said in an interview with StreamTV Insider.

With various content and service options within the Prime Video app, Bennett contends it’s really “apples to oranges” in terms of differentiation from other major streaming apps and pureplay SVODs. Promoting differentiation via the comprehensive and one-stop-shop nature of the service isn’t something Amazon’s previously leaned into that heavily but will be the key framing for Prime Video’s messaging going forward, according to Bennett.

It's worth noting Amazon isn’t the only tech behemoth with one-stop-shop video ambitions. Alphabet’s YouTube has also carved out multiple video offerings (some similar to Prime Video  – like partner subscriptions through YouTube Primetime Channels and live sports with NFL Sunday Ticket, and some distinct – such as its cable-like virtual MVPD YouTube TV) and pegged CTV and the living room as its next frontier.

Device ubiquity

As part of its vision to be more than just an SVOD, Prime Video wants to be on every possible device that streams video.

When it comes to device reach, Bennett, who heads up third-party living room device business development and partner marketing for Prime Video, said ubiquity is the goal and the service is “getting pretty close to the outer bound of what’s possible.”

The KPI Amazon thinks about from a reach perspective is how many OTT-enabled devices there are in the world and how many have Prime Video. As of 2023, based on first- and third-party data, Bennett said they believe Prime Video is on around 1.5 billion OTT-enabled devices globally. 

In follow-up questions, Prime Video declined to share its estimate for the total number of OTT-enabled devices globally or additional detail on device penetration, but a spokesperson noted the figure shared doesn’t represent the total reach of Prime Video “as it doesn’t represent all device types (mobile, for example).” While declining to specify further, a spokesperson confirmed, “Prime Video is available on most OTT-enabled devices world-wide.”

Counterpoint Research shared the firm’s estimates with STV that as of the end of 2023 the global installed base of all OTT-enabled devices was approximately 8.4 billion (including smartphones, smart TVs, smart STBs, desktop PCs, tablets, notebooks/laptops, streaming sticks and gaming consoles). Of that, around 3.9 billion are smartphones. Counterpoint Research’s Hanish Bhatia, associate director of devices & ecosystem, noted a caveat in the researcher’s view, telling STV that the smartphone installed base, rather than its figure for total “OTT-enabled” devices, is the best representation for the serviceable market for OTT apps.

“This is because all OTT users will have a smartphone, but all smartphone users may NOT have a tablet, streaming stick, set top box or gaming console,” Bhatia reasoned, adding that since an account is presumably shared across devices, the figure for total OTT-enabled devices doesn’t represent additional value or added revenue opportunity for OTT players beyond smartphone penetration. Bhatia said the total could be relevant in terms of the number of devices that apps can be installed on, without driving additional revenue.  

Still, it may be a different case when it comes to CTV and ad-supported viewing. Getting an app on all devices, particularly people’s largest home screens, is important as it can bring benefits beyond straight subscription revenue, and where it’s also not always just one person in front of the TV. Prime Video in January introduced ads – a move MoffettNathanson analysts predict could net $2 billion in incremental video ad revenue for the company in 2025, and where the firm expects the marriage of Amazon’s video inventory, viewing and retail data to make a big impact on the CTV ad market. Advertising tends to follow eyeballs alongside engagement, and as Bennett noted, “devices in the living room are disproportionately becoming the home for consumption.” 

“We feel really good about our reach,” he said.

Bennett doesn’t think introducing ads on Prime Video changes the distribution strategy but would likely become part of the conversation - though the aim is the same, which is to get people enjoying and engaging with content on their devices.

Bundling, or not

Amazon counts over 200 global distribution partners for Prime Video including major OEMs such as Samsung, Google, Apple, Roku, gaming consoles like PlayStation, and others. However, to be a true direct-to-consumer service, apps also need to be on MVPD set-top boxes, which means regional distribution, according to Bennett.

“It’s incredibly fragmented in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said.

App distribution via MVPD set-top boxes is important, but becoming part of bundle offered, including through pay TV providers or telcos as some other SVODs have done, isn’t likely in Prime Video’s future.

Bennett said a bundle deal would need to be truly incremental for the business. But since Prime Video is already part of the Prime membership bundle that includes free two-day shipping among other benefits, it’s not in the same boat as some other streamers in the U.S. 

Amazon doesn’t publicly share Prime Video subscriber metrics, but the service has scale. Prime has an estimated 200 million members globally, with January analysis from MoffettNathanson modeling 96 million U.S. Prime households and estimating an active Prime Video U.S. subscriber base equivalent to Netflix’s at around 70 million.  On Nielsen’s The Gauge monthly snapshot, Prime Vide accounted for 2.8% of TV time in the U.S. in January, ranking third behind leaders YouTube (8.6% share) and Netflix (7.9% share).

“Most customers in the U.S. have Prime, whether it be for shipping or for video,” Bennett said, noting the question becomes whether adding Prime Video to yet another subscription helps solve customer problems or just adds costs for a redundant benefit. “That’s probably not something that we would pursue.”

That’s not to minimize subscriber acquisition opportunity in the U.S., the VP emphasized, where Prime Video still has a large base that it needs to optimize for and provide a compelling product to motivate signups and retention. 

Bennett does see some bundling potential internationally, particularly where Prime isn’t nearly as penetrated yet. It already engages in some international bundling, mainly with mobile carriers, and increasingly, will “explore somewhat on the set-top box side,” he said, adding it’s very much “a territory-by-territory basis.”  

Locations Prime Video’s “really prioritizing” for growth are those where it can produce local originals. Not meaning global series like “The Boys” or “Lord of the Rings,” but regional and local programming tailored for a particular market where Amazon thinks content will resonate and drive acquisition and engagement.

“Where we do that is where we think there’s real acquisition upside,” Bennett commented. 

Since the conversation with Bennett, Prime Video has made some recent staff cuts in international markets under a restructuring plan disclosed in January impacting Europe, MENA and Africa, meant to reduce costs and focus content resources in areas outside the U.S. that are driving the highest impact.

Separately, executives at Paramount-owned SVOD Paramount+ in recent weeks said they plan to pull back investment in local content and exit certain hard bundle partnerships in some international markets. Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max, meanwhile, is plotting international expansion including the recent launch or relaunch in markets across Latin America.

Device type can drive content engagement

Directionally, Prime Video has also seen certain types of content appear to resonate with audiences that predominately use a particular kind of device, such as titles based on gaming IP performing well on gaming consoles in the living room.

“We’re starting to see patterns where constituents of customers who tend to gravitate towards certain devices do tend to also gravitate to certain content types…with gaming consoles being a really natural fit for things that are based on gaming IP.”

In 2024 that includes its release of original series “Fallout” based on the video game, where Bennett said Prime Video “would expect to see that really resonate” with Xbox and PlayStation users.

Ultimately, access to content alongside a breadth of partners and devices come together as Prime Video works to be the go-to video entertainment hub.

Broad reach across device types also means Prime Video needs to work with its partners to deliver a quality video experience no matter how consumers are viewing, be it a high-end smart TV or low-end streaming stick. Stay tuned and check back soon for more from Bennett on how live sports streaming in particular drives the need for tech innovation between Prime Video and its device partners.