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NAB 2016: Amazon Wants to Be a One-Stop VOD Shop

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During its NAB 2016 keynote address, Amazon announced its lofty plans to dominate another part of the online world. "We would like to have every digital video service and channel on our platform," said Michael Paull, VP of digital video at Amazon. "We have over thirty services currently and we expect to launch dozens more in the coming months."

Why does this matter? Conventional wisdom says that consumers don’t want to go to multiple apps for their content, that they need one place—and Amazon wants to be that destination. Amazon hopes to get there by signing up as many existing and future SVOD providers as possible.

"Last year we announced a program called the Streaming Partners program, where we are allowing third-party channels and services to come onto our platform, integrate their subscriptions into our unified simple experience," said Paull. Under this program, similar to the ecommerce options many retail businesses now use to sell on Amazon, Amazon would provide billing, customer service, and various elements of technical expertise.

Amazon wants to provide the infrastructure to make online delivery easier for content owners and present a more unified experience for viewers. Let’s start with the content owners first.

Many publishers comment that it’s very difficult to piece together OTT services. There are many options and not enough standards. Amazon is pitching encoding, transaction, and technical expertise, all things Amazon already does for Amazon Prime. So it’s not a big leap to see how they would want to further monetize this workflow and sell it to others. "We think it brings great value to the channel owners and the content owners as well as to our customers.

"We are doing a lot of the operational work that is quite complex and time consuming," said Paull. "We are taking a fee for the distribution and the customer acquisition on the platform. The program allows third-party services and channels to get access to our platform as well as our highly engaged customer base."

Amazon is all about data, and there are several different types of data which flow to Amazon under this new platform. The first type of data is credit card information. Amazon is counting on consumers wanting to avoid repeatedly registering and paying for individual services from each of the SVOD services.

Another thing Amazon is getting is the data behind customer’s viewing preferences. Amazon’s pitch is that this data is the path to keeping customers happy. Customers want more programming, and data is the way to give you more of what you want to watch. The more that is known about your viewing patterns, the more Amazon can show you other content you might find interesting. "The more programming that is in our ecosystem, the more time people will spend on the app," said Paull.

"In my mind, once you have the consumer, even if the intent is 'I'm going to binge watch this show and exit,' if you use the data to present other shows that they want to watch, they’ll stay," said Paull. "I think as programmers, our job is to make sure that people are getting value for the money they are spending and my experience has been if you treat your customers well if you provide great value, they will stay with you."

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