Amazon vs. Netflix is getting more and more interesting

Just learned this today: Amazon has an entire landing page for “not on Netflix.” A shot across the bow? Perhaps. It’s kind of interesting broadly, though: five-six years ago, you would maybe kinda view Amazon and Netflix as business rivals — Netflix primarily delivered DVDs to you via a red envelope, and you could theoretically also choose to buy (and maybe rent? I forget) those DVDs via Amazon. Now, with seemingly more millennials cutting the traditional cord and going to streaming (I’ve been on that for about a year), the war for original content as a driver of new customers/clients/leads/whatever you want to call it is heating up.

Netflix currently gets more attention in this regard, primarily because of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Hulu Plus has a ton of original shows, although I’d still argue most people go there to find the newest episodes of in-season shows (that’s why I mostly go there); their long-term play seems to be focused on the originals, though. Amazon has nine new shows coming this year — critics were kinda iffy on their first two efforts, although I liked them —  and this Transparent show could be big. In fairness, it has pretty much everyone that “in the know” people claim to love, from Jeffrey Tambor to Judith Light to Mark Duplass (king of mumblecore!) to Gaby Hoffman (she’s in everything hipster released in the past 10 months).

Almost half of the United States subscribes to either Hulu, Amazon Prime or Netflix — so there’s big numbers here if one of them can kind-of break ahead of the pack. As of now, Netflix seems to be winning in this space — Goldman thinks they’re worth 590/share — but Amazon overall is a behemoth. They don’t make profits per se, but if they choose to “turn on the spigot,” they would be dominant.

Interesting to see how this all shakes out — and if you ever doubted the value of content as a concept, or the explosion of the idea of “content marketing,” look no further than this war — which is rooted in the acquisition of content and using original content to drive strategy — as evidence of the value of it in the modern age.


Ted Bauer