With Jeff Bezos stepping down as Amazon CEO and Andy Jassy assuming the role, one question which has emerged is where Amazon Prime Video goes from here.
A key problem is, because Amazon has not been transparent with Prime video data, we know little, if anything about Amazon Prime Video. Perhaps our best window comes from this interview with an anonymous Amazon employee:
What’s an example of a division that AWS subsidizes particularly heavily?
Prime Video, for one. Jeff loves Prime Video because it gives him access to the social scene in LA and New York. He’s newly divorced and the richest man in the world. Prime Video is a loss leader for Jeff’s sex life.
There is probably truth to this - as the fiduciary vs visionary framework reflects, executive incentives matter. But, Prime Video is also an app with users across 50MM+ Fire devices. Prime Video has utility for which users are willing to invest up to $120 in a Fire device and $120 per year in Prime fees.
An obvious place to go from here would be diving into the future of Amazon Prime Video (or into what it means for Amazon Prime Video to be a loss leader, which the Entertainment Strategy Guy did a good job with this week).
The obstacle is the lack of transparency: we have little to no objective evidence from Amazon about how Andy Jassy perceives the Prime Video business, other than he likes sports and music, nor how management not named Jeff Bezos perceives the business. [NOTE: We also know very little about its efforts with IMDb TV, other than its total AVOD audience now reaches 55MM users.]
This lack of transparency is not unusual in the streaming marketplace. On Sunday night, Blumhouse Producer Jason Blum participated in a discussion on Clubhouse with A16Z co-founder Marc Andreessen, complaining about transparency in streaming, specifically how “Netflix doesn’t share any data” and “That’s part of the deal when you accept their huge upfront check”. [NOTE: these typically are not recorded, so I was not taking notes and instead rely on this Twitter thread which was accurately capturing quotes from the discussion].
After recent Q4 earnings calls, I think we are at a crossroads for transparency in the streaming marketplace, and a surprising new dynamic is evolving. Transparency, as a practice, is evolving away from the Curse of the Mogul-type opacity. Whereas before media companies shared little with investors, now they are sharing more. But creators are finding themselves receiving less data - the services are not sharing it, and third parties offer a limited lens.
That shift in transparency for both investors and creators has been playing out in fascinating ways in the streaming marketplace over the past few weeks.
The Curse of the Mogul slide from my 2020 Lessons, 2021 Predictions is, in one way, a basic overview of transparency across the streaming marketplace. Prime Video was marked as a company which disclosed few metrics in 2020 (above).
Disclosure is inevitably ...