Amazon has been spending time and money building up its Prime Instant online video service, but so far it hasn’t spent much time telling people about it: It’s very easy to invest a lot of time on Amazon.com without ever learning that the site has a catalog of movies and TV shows that’s starting to rival the stuff on Netflix. Or that many of those videos are free for anyone who has Amazon Prime, its $80-a-year subscription/shipping service.

Amazon’s approach to marketing, or lack of it, confuses lots of people in the online video world. But it helps explain why Amazon’s market share appears to be lagging way, way behind Netflix.

Here’s a sign that Amazon may be rethinking its strategy: A TV commercial aimed solely at promoting Prime Instant Video. This one won’t win any awards for creativity, but it is a straight-ahead ad outlining exactly what Amazon has to offer. BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield saw it over the holiday break, running on AMC Networks’ IFC channel:*

In a post (registration required), Greenfield describes the ad as “Amazon’s First Attack Ad Targeted at Netflix,” but that seems like a stretch.**

The spot’s one reference to Netflix is an oblique one, at the 1:24 mark, and if he didn’t superimpose the words “Netflix Attack” on the clip you’d be very hard-pressed to notice it. Here’s the reference in its entirety: “Who needs to subscribe to another video service, you get video, great movies right there on-demand as part of Prime.”

So it’s not the kind of thing that’s going to make Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sweat. On the other hand, Hastings doesn’t need to see an ad to keep Amazon top of mind: He’s quite aware that once Jeff Bezos decides he’s really serious about a market, he usually ends up owning it.

* Oddly, the original ad doesn’t seem to appear on Amazon’s YouTube page, or anywhere else on the site.

** Not that there’s anything wrong with blog headlines that stretch a teeny bit. They’re fun!



11 comments
Mike Donatello
Mike Donatello

One of the limiting factors on Prime Video growth is device compatibility. When I subscribed to Netflix, I could watch on just about anything. Although I have been a Prime member since the service first debuted, I seldom watch video, because Amazon is restrictive in which TVs, DVRs, etc., to which it will stream. Remove the restrictions and Prime streaming will finally see its potential.

bobsulli
bobsulli

Did Amazon's Instant Video reach critical mass from just word-of-mouth and now they needs ads? I think Amazon is dragging their feet on a vanilla Android client simply to encourage more Kindle Fire sales. I grabbed another Kindle Fire during their one-day "FAA" sale in November, but I think I'm staying at 2 (in my household) for awhile.


DougDig
DougDig

Don't lose sight of the fact that Netflix is built on Amazon Web Services - it has actually become a drinking game during the AWS developer conferences to take a shot every time they make a reference to how Netflix is using AWS.  It makes me think Amazon is treading lightly on their most well-known customer / now competitor. 

Ken Esq
Ken Esq

They need to get an Android client out there. They have it for Roku, XBox, PS,  iOS and the Kindle Fire(s), but nothing for any of the other Android flavors.

Gerry Manolatos
Gerry Manolatos

Lots of gaps between Amazon and Netflix content, but they complement each other pretty well. I think many cord-cutters have Netflix + Amazon Prime, while cablers will sign up for one or the other (and Netflix has been winning that race so far).

etfmaven
etfmaven

I'd have to say that Amazon Prime's service is our go-to streaming service now. Lots and lots of good choices. We're very pleased with it.

ogman
ogman

I've been using this for years and it's a good service. They have the same or better included content as Netflix and the movie rentals are reasonably priced. I do have to point out that they do have some irritating problems with streaming from time to time,  and the customer service is fully outsourced and a bit lacking.

joelkamp
joelkamp

Amazon please release an android app and chromecast support and your service would be worth using!

Webguy
Webguy

Amazon Video interface looks much nicer than Netflix on Xbox One, love the previews but they lack the content.

Beaupedia
Beaupedia

@Ken Esq I agree completely. Hugely disappointed that they are dragging their feet on this. I suspect it's to sell more Kindle Fires, as bobsulli said above.

Mergatroid69
Mergatroid69

@Webguy On a Roku3, both Amazon's and Netflix's interfaces are superior to anything else...

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