It looks like in the next few days BP will crack $1 billion:
Leaked Amazon figures show TV drives millions of Prime signups
Reuters claims to have seen Amazon’s top-secret strategy documents.
Amazon is notoriously secretive about its sales figures, from how many Kindles it has sold to how many subscribers pay for Prime. Reuters is reporting that it has obtained leaked documents that, if true, will shed plenty of light on at least one part of Amazon’s business – Prime Video. If you thought Amazon was keeping quiet because its projects were flops, think again, because some of its shows are actually more popular than some of the fare you’ll find on basic cable.
The documents purportedly claim that the first season of Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle was watched by 8 million people in the US. That’s better than the last few episodes of AMC’s The Walking Dead, which posted ratings of 6.8 million for its most recent episode. Now, basic cable ratings are more volatile – TWD’s mid-season opener had 8.3 million – but Amazon’s intent here is a little different to AMC.
Since the only way for folks to watch High Castle is to subscribe to Prime, if Amazon can encourage more people to sign up than it cost to make the show, then it’s a winner. And, according to the report, 1.15 million people chose to sign up to Amazon’s subscription service to watch the show.
According to people familiar with the matter, Amazon considers the first Prime Video show you watch as one of the reasons you signed up. The company then essentially works out how many other people did the same, divided by its budget, to work out a cost per signup for each show. Another example in the report is The Grand Tour, which the company believes compelled 1.5 million people to sign up at a cost of $49 per subscriber.
The company’s eye for more highbrow fare does appear not to have paid off particularly well on this first stream basis. Awards may generate attention, but it doesn’t seem to translate into ratings (or signup) gold for shows like Transparent. The third season of the family drama scored a respectable 1.3 million views, putting it on a par with HBO shows that aren’t called Game of Thrones. Good Girls Revolt had 1.6 million views, but only 52,000 people signed up because of it, which explains why Amazon killed it after a year.
Now, all of this should be taken with a pinch of salt, but many of the facts here do seem to pass a sniff test of reasonability. If this is how Amazon is looking at its video strategy, then it makes sense that the company would be desperate to find the next Game of Thrones. It also explains the somewhat baffling logic of spending the better part of a billion dollars on a new Lord of the Rings TV series – if only because the movies already fill that niche. But if it can encourage five or six million Tolkien fans to sign up, then the show will be hailed as a success, even if that’s a pretty big if.
That seems odd. We have Prime but barely use it for the video content. We watched to first season of The Expanse but it has taken forever for the second season to be moved over to be free with Prime. Though I haven’t checked recently.
Yeah, I mainly use it for free movies.
The Netflix interface for shows is still easier.
Ya. Their interface is one of the things that makes me feel like they’re not as serious about it. It’s not good.
I think there’s a little cherry picking with the numbers there. They are comparing overnights for Walking Dead (and I checked it is equal to that figure) with long term streaming numbers. We’ve seen with something like Doctor Who that more than 40% of its viewers watch on catch up streaming via the BBC iPlayer.
I’ve seen a lot of TV reporters complain on Twitter about the Reuters article, as the writer seems to have little idea what he’s talking about.
Unfortunately, Reuters chose to only publish a fraction of the data it says it obtained, making it hard to draw any broad conclusions about the relative success or failure of Amazon shows.
Reuters also published audience sizes for several shows, but it didn’t say whether its figures measured the average audience per episode or simply how many people watched a single episode of a series, nor what sort of time frame was measured (the first month a show was available, or cumulative consumption of a show from its premiere date through early 2017, the date on the obtained documents). As a result, it’s impossible to accurately compare viewer data for the Amazon shows with broadcast or cable numbers.
Those complaints are missing the point of the story though; Amazon isn’t a TV company, it’s a retailer using TV to sell subscriptions to Prime. That’s it.
Amazon execs, Reuters says, believe the first series you watch after signing up deserves the credit for luring you to Prime (whether you liked the show or not apparently doesn’t matter, nor is it clear whether you need to finish a full season of a show for it to count).
Once you have Prime, Amazon don’t care what you watch. You can choose to ignore their video service entirely.
It’s a carrot to get you to sign up. If it helps keep you signed up then that’s good too, but they’re assuming that you wont cancel, and you’ll keep buying from them as a result.
HBO is a TV company, so are Starz, AMC and any of the broadcast networks.
Amazon just want you to sign up to Prime then order more stuff from them, because you have Prime.
What if I just signed up for Prime for the free 2-day shipping so I could order more stuff?
Tried watching The Grand Tour when it first came out as I loved old Top Gear but it just didn’t click with me. It was all the same gags but missing the thing that really made them work like they were a cover band doing piss poor covers of their own songs.
Season 2 of The Expanse is free on Prime now. I know because I just finished binge watching the first two seasons a few days ago. It was awesome.
And it was like that for the last two or three years of ‘Top Gear’.
Still some good stuff, but a lot of badly done, sub-sitcom rubbish.
If there’s a ‘Best of The Grand Tour’ I’d probably give that a go.
Ooo. Thanks. Will have a watch then.
I haven’t been able to watch Top Gear for a while since I haven’t had access to BBC America for a while. Good to know I don’t need to bother with them on Netflix either.
I tried the US version of Top Gear too and it was like a bad cover band. They did the exact same bits and jokes but they didn’t work at all for me.
How are the newer UK seasons with the altered cast?