Amazon Launches Prime Video Service Globally in Challenge to Netflix

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Amazon has rolled out its streaming video service worldwide to more than 200 countries, challenging Netflix, which launched globally, with the exceptions of China, North Korea, Syria and the Crimea.

The e-commerce giant, led by chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos, previously offered its Amazon Prime Video service in the U.S., U.K., Japan, Germany and Austria and previously said it was also planning a launch in India.

“We are excited to announce that starting today, fans around the world have access to Prime Video,” said Tim Leslie, VP international for Prime Video on announcing the news on Wednesday.

Talk of a possible global video service rollout first started late this year when Amazon said its original series, The Grand Tour, hosted by Jeremy Clarkson and his former Top Gear on-air colleagues James May and Richard Hammond, would be available on Amazon in more than 200 countries.

The company didn’t immediately explain if the show would simply serve as an early experiment for rolling out its video service globally or if a global launch was imminent. Asked about a possible global launch, a representative at the time only reiterated that The Grand Tour would stream in more than 200 countries, but added: “We don’t have anything else to announce.”

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said about the Grand Tour news: “I think they’re going global with only one show. Should they choose to, they can extend their reach with originals, but they cannot offer licensed content like Downton Abbey, HBO, Justified etc. without obtaining rights from licensors. I don’t know that they have done so or that they intend to do so, and it wouldn’t make sense to spend more if they are offering video in countries where they don’t have a presence.”

He added: “They only have an online presence in 16 countries, and only offer Prime Video in five. I don’t think that this is a precursor to competing globally with Netflix, but rather see it as a way to exploit original content that they have already paid for.”

Jefferies analyst Brian Fitzgerald had a different take at the time. Highlighting that Amazon’s most recent quarterly earnings report was “mixed” with “soft margins” and margin guidance that “disappointed,” he argued: “Now we know where a major piece of incremental investment might be going to — digital content for Amazon Video.”

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SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter, Natalie Jarvey and Georg Szalai