×

Amazon Spent $1.3 Billion on Prime Instant Video in 2014

E-commerce giant touts investment in SVOD content but still trails Netflix in spending

Amazon.com, which is gunning for Netflix in the subscription-video space, invested $1.3 billion in its Prime Instant Video service last year, according to founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Netflix, by contrast, spent a net $3.2 billion in 2014 on additions to its streaming-content library globally (accounting for $593 million reduction in streaming-content liabilities), up from a comparable $2.4 billion the year prior, according to its Q4 2014 earnings report.

Bezos revealed the figure for Prime Instant Video — a level of detail the e-commerce behemoth normally doesn’t provide — as part of announcing Amazon’s fourth quarter 2014 earnings. (An Amazon rep clarified that the $1.3 billion encompasses content-licensing and original production expenses.) He touted growth in Prime membership last year, despite a 25% price hike to $99 per year. Amazon’s Prime worldwide paid membership grew 53% last year, and 50% in the U.S. However, the company does not disclose specific numbers Prime users, except that it amounts to “tens of millions.”

“Prime is a one-of-a-kind, all-you-can-eat, physical-digital hybrid,” Bezos said in a statement. “In 2014 alone we paid billions of dollars for Prime shipping and invested $1.3 billion in Prime Instant Video. We’ll continue to work hard for our Prime members.”

On the earnings front, Amazon handily beat Wall Street expectations for Q4 with net income of 45 cents per share, well above analysts consensus estimates of 17 cents per share. Revenue increased 15%, to $29.33 billion, missing analyst estimates of $29.7 billion for the period. In after-hours trading, Amazon stock climbed more than 7%.

Prime offers free two-day shipping on millions of products as well as access to Prime Instant Video, music and other content. According to a survey by Morgan Stanley, the company had at least 50 million Prime members worldwide as of October 2014, implying at least 37 million in the U.S. But it’s not clear how many of those access Prime Instant Video on a regular basis.

As of the end of 2014, Netflix had 57.3 million streaming subs worldwide (39.11 million U.S. streaming subs and 18.28 million internationally).

The total content-spending figures from Amazon and Netflix illustrate that — while they are using original content to generate buzz, aimed at attracting and retaining subs — the bulk of their budgets go toward licensing TV shows and movies from Hollywood. Netflix execs have said they expect to continue to spend 10% of the company’s overall content outlay on original programming. In 2015, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu will spend a projected $6.8 billion on content licensed from studios, versus $5.2 billion last year, according to an RBC Capital Markets report.

In its earnings announcement, Amazon called out its Golden Globes wins for “Transparent,” its original dark comedy series from Jill Soloway and starring Jeffrey Tambor. The company also highlighted Amazon Studios’ new initiative to produce and acquire 12 original movies for theatrical release and early-window distribution on Prime Instant Video this year, as well as its deal with Woody Allen for the filmmaker’s first TV series.

More Digital

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Ends Long Strike Against Ad Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty

    SAG-AFTRA has ended its 10-month strike against Bartle Bogle Hegarty after the advertising agency agreed to sign the union’s new commercials contract. The union instructed its 160,000 members in September not to accept any work for BBH, which had been signed to SAG-AFTRA’s commercials contracts since 1999. The strike came two weeks after BBH publicly [...]

  • FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone,

    SAG-AFTRA Warns Members About FaceApp Terms of Use

    SAG-AFTRA is warning its 160,000 members about the “overreaching and invasive” terms of use for the FaceApp mobile application. FaceApp, developed by Russian company Wireless Lab, uses neural network technology to automatically generate transformations of faces in photographs. The app can be used to make users appear older, younger, or change gender. The terms include [...]

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

  • Billie Eilish

    ARRI, Mobile TV Group Back New Venture Revitalizing Streamed Concerts

    A new venture looking to bring a fresh approach to live-streaming concerts has gotten the backing of hardware heavyweights ARRI and Mobile TV Group. Wide+Close is launching with the mandate of shooting music performances with film cameras and cinematographers in order to give the content a more cinematic feel. “We want to take concert filming [...]

  • Fortnite Battle Royale

    How 'Fortnite' Fans Can Earn Loot by Watching YouTube Videos

    Epic Games and YouTube have teamed up with a special offer for “Fortnite” players — giving players of the popular battle-royale game rewards when they watch “Fortnite”-premiered content on the video platform. The catch: You have to watch at least 20 minutes of “Fortnite” special content or live esports broadcasts to receive the loot. Under [...]

  • Roku headquarters

    Roku Plans to Expand to Brazil, Other Countries (EXCLUSIVE)

    Roku plans to expand to multiple new territories in the coming months, Variety has learned. One of the first new markets for the company will likely be Brazil. An international expansion could help Roku grow its customer base, which in turn should lead to growing advertising revenues. Roku executives have been hinting at plans to [...]

  • Google Stadia Pro to Include 1

    Google’s Stadia Game Streaming Service to Include Free Monthly Game

    Google has been busy sharing additional details about its upcoming game streaming service Stadia, clearing up some confusion in the process. Stadia’s pro subscription tier, which will cost $10 per month, won’t be a Netflix-type subscription service. However, subscribers will get free games at the rate of about a title per month. That’s according to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content