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Amazon Prime Focusing on Exclusive Content

1 May, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Content VP Bill Carr sheds light on e-commerce behemoth’s SVOD strategy going forward

Amazon Prime Instant Video, the e-commerce giant’s free subscription video-on-demand add-on to its Prime discount shipping program, is targeting original programing based in part on the interests of its members, said Bill Carr, VP of video and music.

The strategy — a benchmark of Netflix’s rival SVOD service and backstop to its original series “Lilyhammer,” “House of Cards,” “Hemlock Grove” and forthcoming “Orange Is the New Black” — is centered on data culled from Amazon’s formidable disc sellthrough and transactional VOD platforms, Carr said in an interview with AllThingsD.com.

He said premium-TV channels have programming that consumers know they can watch only on those channels. Carr wants to replicate that with Prime Instant Video.

“It gives users a reason to tune in and try our service,” he said. “We want to have a set of movies and TV shows that are only on Amazon.”

Carr said Amazon is pleased thus far with Prime Instant Video usage, while reiterating the longstanding company policy of not disclosing actual user metrics. He would only say the platform has seen “strong, triple-digit growth,” without elaborating.

The executive envisions Prime Instant not competing against Netflix or HBO, but instead, reinventing entertainment distribution, including eliminating the middleman. Carr said Amazon’s history in book publishing removed gatekeepers from the process.

“Why can’t there be great possibilities for people who have great stories to tell, whether it’s a script or screenplay?” he said.

The executive said the decision to put 14 comedy pilots online and allow consumers to rate them is an extension of its publishing strategy. While all but one of the pilots (“Those Who Can’t”) came from well-established industry sources, Carr said the process is more egalitarian than conventional Hollywood.

“Just the fact that that show came in from an online submission — I would consider that to be remarkable,” he said. “That possibility doesn’t exist in the traditional system today. And the idea that we’ve put all 14 pilots out for free, for anyone to watch, with the explicit ask for customers to give us feedback — I think both of those things are remarkable.”

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