Last week I began talking a bit about Amazon Studios, Amazon’s 20-month-old initiative to find and produce new movie and series scripts. In that post I posted on the advantages and opportunities of crowdsourced material. Today’s post looks at the business advantages Amazon brings to bear.
In most of their efforts, judging by sales, Amazon seems to get where their customers are coming from and what they really want. They came to dominate the book market because they presented customers with the buying experience and advantages they wanted (huge selection, simple and effective searching, lower prices, affordable shipping). They became a sell-anything behemoth by applying the same principles they used to sell books to, well, practically everything.
Their original Kindle succeeded extravagantly; the Kindle Fire, a very different device, also took off, and among authors their eBook store is close to the only one that matters. It seems to me that Amazon’s principles here are to focus on wide selection, good search tools, and an affordable price point, and that formula has delivered for them again and again. I have no reason to believe they’ll do anything differently–or need to–as they start bringing out movies and series.
Well-suited distribution channels
We tend to think of series as things we watch on television and of movies as things we watch in movie theaters, but increasingly we’re watching these things on our computers, tablets, Rokus, and other devices. Can Amazon get movies in theaters and series on TV channels? Absolutely. Much smaller and less well-funded production companies do it all the time. Will Amazon need to do this? Maybe not.
I don’t feel I can predict how much our viewing habits might migrate away from movie theaters and TV stations. After all, both of these industries have survived massive changes in the last few decades, and I don’t know that further changes will necessarily swamp the boat for either one. For instance, even though I’ll eventually be able to watch virtually any movie I want on DVD and/or through streaming, I still see movies in theaters sometimes because of the big screen experience, and because sometimes I want to see the film as soon as it’s released.
However, it’s clear that people are ready and willing to watch movies and series through streaming, and Amazon already has a successful streaming service that it could expand or build on in a number of ways. It’s also clear that streaming is getting more and more popular compared to other modes of watching, and while this upward trend may eventually plateau, it’s likely streaming is here to stay, at least until the next game-changing paradigm comes along.
Familiar with success
So unlike literally every other movie and TV studio in the world, Amazon has a massive, successful, existing distribution channel, not to mention their own device, the Kindle Fire, out in the world to stream to (along with many other non-Amazon viewing devices, of course). None of this is any guarantee of success, and there are any number of companies that have dropped the ball on opportunities that were just as promising–but Amazon isn’t just any company.
Compare them to Google, for instance, which often seems to be just trying anything that looks popular. “How about a virtual world (Google Lively)? No, I guess that didn’t work. Now let’s make something called Google Wave and see if anyone can fully understand it! Huh, I guess not that either. Well, let’s try to out-Facebook Facebook! Hmm, hard to tell whether that’s going to survive or not. Well, good thing some of our other core offerings, like search and maps, are so excellent, and that we drive the software behind some of the world’s best smartphones.”
Amazon, on the other hand, seems to succeed with virtually every major effort they undertake. I have every reason to think they’ll succeed in this one too, even though it’s as much of a stretch as the Kindle was–and maybe more of one. If anyone can make that stretch, it’s Amazon.
In my next Amazon Studios post, I’ll offer a look at the possibility’s from the writer’s point of view. Is Amazon Studios a golden opportunity, a one-way ticket to tooldom, or a little of both?
Photo by evadedave