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Amazon VOD Aiming for Availability and Selection, Low Prices


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By : Susanne Ault | Posted: 29 Jan 2010


Amazon Video on Demand looks nothing like it did when it launched in 2006. But that will ultimately prove the secret to its success, hopes the service’s management.

When the service bowed as Amazon Unbox a few years ago, people could only download or rent titles for view on the Windows PC platform. Now branded Amazon Video on Demand, the service’s 50,000-title library reaches across many Web-connected Panasonic, Samsung and Sony Bravia TVs; also can be accessed via home TVs through most Panasonic Blu-ray players and Sony’s BDP N460 Blu-ray model; is available through Tivo and Roku set-top boxes; and is compatible with Apple Macs.

“We’re working hard to give customers greater access to the content they purchase or rent by increasing the number of devices on which Amazon Video on Demand can be consumed,” said Amazon.com spokeswoman Sarah Gelman.

Netflix does boast just as many, if not more, consumer electronics touch points, additionally including the Sony PlayStation 3.

But by way of its sellthrough option, Amazon Video on Demand can offer the newest titles released day-and-date with their DVD/Blu-ray launch. Netflix’s instant streaming option generally carries older, catalog titles.

Apple iTunes isn’t offered in as many places — generally tied to PC/Macs and Apple-branded devices — but it does serve as diverse a digital sellthrough/rental collection as Amazon.

However, Amazon is aiming to be competitive by offering more pricing options for its services. Amazon is distinguished by its 5% discount tagged to its TV Season Pass, where episodes are offered cheaper in bulk than if purchased individually. Additionally, Amazon is unique with its ‘Disc Plus’ option, under which more than 500 DVDs are sold bundled with free streams of the featured TV or movie. Disc Plus also now works with nearly 150 Blu-ray titles.

“We’re not really focused on our competition, but we’re focused on delivering the best possible customer experience through broad selection and low pricing,” Gelman said.

At this point, Amazon Video on Demand is not top of most digital consumers’ minds, according to The NPD Group. As of August 2009, 66% of NPD downloading respondents said they bought their movies from iTunes. Amazon Video on Demand was a far second at 19%, with Xbox Live and PlayStation Store next at 17% and 15%, respectively.

In terms of electronic rentals, 66% of respondents said they used Netflix. Similarly far behind in this segment, Amazon Video on Demand and Xbox Live tied at 15%.

However, Amazon is confident in their product and believes they will prevail with consumers.

 In 2010, Amazon will particularly strive to offer more early-bird movies ahead of their theatrical and DVD launches, Gelman said. Amazon.com is now renting District 13: Ultimatum for $9.99 before the title’s slated Feb. 5 U.S. big screen bow.

Other movies recently offered by Amazon Video on Demand several days ahead of theatrical premieres included Surveillance and The Answer Man.

“We can’t provide [download/streaming numbers], but we can say that our customers seem excited by the increased selection, low pricing and availability on connected devices,” said Gelman. “We can say our goal is always innovating for our customers and creating the best experience possible.”

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