Amazon might be in the midst of planning an ad-supported streaming TV and music video service, the Wall Street Journal reported today, citing sources close to the company. Amazon isn’t talking, but if true it would be a …
Execs said in January that they’d probably hike the price of what had been a $79 a year service since it was introduced nine years ago. Even so, Amazon shares are up 2.4% in pre-market trading following today’s announcement about the service that offers members free, two-day delivery on many items bought on Amazon, as well as access to its streaming video service. Under the terms disclosed today, the price for new members and membership renewals for Amazon Prime will go to $99 while Amazon Student members pay $49. The company will keep its Prime Fresh fee at $299. CFO Tom Szkutak told analysts that Amazon was considering the price hike because “during this nine-year period shipping cost have gone up a lot, fuel cost have gone up a lot.” The famously tight-lipped company has disclosed little about the economics of its Prime membership. But Bernstein Research”s Carlos Kirjner estimates that the average member in the U.S. spends about $1,500 a year at the e-retailer vs about $550 for non-members. He figured that an increase of $20 a year or more would restore the economic model that Prime had when it was first launched, even if the higher price leads some to not sign up or renew.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘The X Factor’ Musical ‘I Can’t Sing’ Pushes Back Previews; Quentin Tarantino To Present Honorary Cesar To Scarlett Johansson; More
‘X Factor’ Musical ‘I Can’t Sing’ Delays Previews By Two Days
Previews of Simon Cowell‘s The X Factor musical, I Can’t Sing, have been postponed by two days at the London Palladium. Stage Entertainment and Syco Entertainment are producing the show and say they’ve decided to start previews on March 1 as opposed to February 27 due to “technical issues caused by the ambitious staging of the new musical comedy.” Rebecca Quigley, producer for Stage Entertainment, said, “As audiences will soon see, the production is hugely ambitious, and the volume of installation and scale of the set means that technical work has taken slightly longer than could have been anticipated to make the show audience-ready.” Nigel Harman (EastEnders, Downton Abbey) is playing a character based on Cowell in the musical that’s directed by Olivier Award-winner and Tony nominee Sean Foley. British comedian Harry Hill wrote the show.
Quentin Tarantino To Present Scarlett Johansson’s Honorary Cesar
Quentin Tarantino has been enlisted by France’s Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma to present Scarlett Johansson with this year’s honorary César Award. The director will hand the award to Johansson this Friday at the 39th César Awards ceremony in Paris. Tarantino himself received the prize in 2011.
2ND UPDATE 2:16 PM: The NPD Group today issued a “data clarification” about its Monday press release that said its study found that streaming services are gaining while premium cable channels are losing subscribers. A day after Showtime refuted those findings, NPD Group said it should not have called our declines for HBO and Showtime.”Upon further examination of the results,” the group said in the release, “there is data supporting the conclusion that individual subscribers are either subscribing to more channels, or adding channels over time.” Here’s the full statement: “A recent press announcement from The NPD Group that was released on Monday, January 20, 2014 (‘Cord Shaving? SVOD Subscribers Increase, as Premium TV Subscribers Decline, According to The NPD Group’) should not have called out declines in subscribers for specific premium TV channels, HBO and Showtime. The data used for the press release pertains to aggregate results for all premium TV channels and does indicate that the overall number of subscribers has declined, based on a representative sample of the U.S. population. However, upon further examination of the results, there is data supporting the conclusion that individual subscribers are either subscribing to more channels, or adding channels over time. In that case, faithful premium channel subscribers are becoming more so – which would be consistent with the subscription increases being reported by individual channels.”
UPDATED 3:14 PM Tuesday: Not so fast, Showtime says. The premium channel issued a release today saying the “NPD Group ‘study’ does not accurately reflect actual subscriber counts.” Showtime says that not only has it added 1M subs in six of the past seven years, but premium rivals HBO, Cinemax and Starz also have increased subs during that period. Here’s the full statement: “Contrary to erroneous reports published this week, Showtime and every other premium network have increased both subscribers and penetrations over the last two years. A study released by the NPD Group claimed the opposite, comparing gains made by video services like Netflix to the performance of premium cable. The study does not accurately reflect actual subscriber counts. According to SNL Kagan, from March 2012 through September 2013 – the timeframe the NPD Group allegedly measured — Showtime penetration grew from 21.1 percent to 22.8 percent; HBO penetration rose from 28.2 percent to 29.2 percent; Cinemax penetration climbed from 11.2 percent to 13.6 percent and Starz penetration jumped from 19.9 percent to 22 percent. While it is true that video services like Netflix have gained, so too have premium cable channels.”
Why should Sony and Verizon have all the fun? Amazon has talked with at least three “big media conglomerates” about the possibility of licensing channels for its own online pay TV service, The Wall Street Journal reports this afternoon, citing “people familiar with the matter.” The paper adds that the initiative “is in the early stages, and it isn’t clear whether it will move forward.” It also doesn’t have a business model yet. For the streaming plans to work, Amazon and others need programmers to agree to license their channels for rates that would enable a newcomer to be competitive. Some, including Disney, say that they would only go along with an initiative that offers the entire bundle of channels that cable and satellite companies sell. Seven companies account for 83% of primetime TV viewing by 18- to 49-year-olds, Morgan Stanley’s Benjamin Swinburne notes in a report today. They heavily depend on fees from cable, satellite, and telco video distributors.
Amazon and Warners Bros Domestic TV Distribution have inked a deal to stream the Veronica Mars TV series exclusively on Amazon Prime. The series, starring Kristen Bell, will be available starting today, ahead of the March 14 premiere of the Veronica Mars movie, famously funded by a history-making Kickstarter campaign. The announcement comes a day after CBS and Amazon announced an exclusive streaming deal for upcoming CBS summer series Extant starring Halle Berry. The Veronica Mars TV series,created by screenwriter Rob Thomas, first premiered in 2004. The show is set in the fictional town of Neptune, California, and follows a high school student (Bell) who moonlights as a private investigator under the tutelage of her detective father. The Veronica Mars movie reached its Kickstarter goal of $2 million in just 10 hours back in March. At the end of the 31-day campaign, fans contributed $5.7 million, making Veronica Mars the number one funded project in the film category and the third-highest funded project in Kickstarter history. Here’s today’s full release:
CBS and Amazon are taking the video-on-demand model they introduced with the Amblin-produced summer series Under The Dome and are applying it to the new summer series from Steven Spielberg’s production company, Extant, which is set to debut on CBS in June. Like with Under The Dome, Extant, which stars Halle Berry, will have its exclusive subscription home on Amazon Prime Instant Video, with unlimited streaming of all the series’ episodes available four days after their initial broadcast on CBS. Episodes of Extant will also be available for purchase and download exclusively at Amazon Instant Video.
Last summer, Under The Dome became the most-watched scripted summer series in 21 years with 15.06 million viewers on CBS, and its freshman season also was watched by more customers than any other TV season on Prime Instant Video last year. The two companies in September renewed their licensing agreement for the upcoming second season of Under The Dome, which is expected to serve as a companion to Extant, a mystery thriller about a female astronaut trying to reconnect with her family when she returns after a year in outer space. Her experiences lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history.
SEATTLE–Nov. 21, 2013– (NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon.com today announced an exclusive content licensing agreement with new film studio A24, known for cutting-edge commercial hits such as Spring Breakers and The Bling Ring. This groundbreaking multi-year agreement makes Prime Instant Video the exclusive premium subscription home for all of the current and forthcoming A24 titles shortly following their release on DVD and Blu-Ray.
The device, code-named “Cinnamon,” would make it easy for users to stream Amazon Prime videos to their TV sets — and could handle apps and content including music and games from other Web services — the Wall Street Journal …
The new multi-year deal includes NOVA, Masterpiece and Ken Burns documentaries and PBS KIDS series including Caillou, Arthur, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Dinosaur Train and Wild Kratts, the companies say. The arrangement continues the arms race with Netflix to …
Listen to (and share) episode 38 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s Executive Editor talks with host David Bloom about the recent trip by Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and Nancy Tellem to romance Hollywood moguls with the Xbox One ahead of next week’s E3 videogame convention; Google’s pitch for movie marketers for their ad dollars; whether Amazon Prime can move beyond the shadow of Netflix with deals such as this week’s Viacom arrangement; and why Wall Street punished Tivo’s stock price after its latest lawsuit settlements.
SEATTLE—May 16, 2013—(NASDAQ:AMZN)—Amazon.com today announced an expanded content licensing agreement with NBCUniversal Cable & New Media Distribution that will bring a variety of popular programs to Prime Instant Video. Prime Instant Video offers more than 40,000 movies and TV episodes for Prime members to stream on Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Roku, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and Wii U, among other connected TVs and devices – all at no additional cost. To sign up for Amazon Prime, visit www.amazon.com/primeinstantvideo.
SEATTLE–Feb. 28, 2013– (NASDAQ: AMZN) – Amazon.com, Inc. today announced a content licensing agreement with Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. (NYSE: SNI) that will make Prime Instant Video a subscription home to hundreds of episodes from past seasons of hit TV shows from the Scripps family of brands: HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel and Travel Channel.
SEATTLE–Feb. 26, 2013– (NASDAQ:AMZN) – Amazon.com, Inc. today announced a content licensing agreement with Sony Pictures Television, making Prime Instant Video the exclusive online subscription home to the FX Network western crime drama Justified. The award-winning and gritty series has been one of the most watched shows on Amazon Instant Video, where customers can purchase and download episodes for $1.99 each, and will now be available to Prime members at no additional cost. In addition, Prime Instant Video will add the critically-acclaimed inner-city Los Angeles crime drama The Shield to its catalog.