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New Amazon Channels Data Shows Why Apple Wants to Copy It

Amazon has quietly become a major player in the subscription video sales business: Amazon Channels, the company’s platform for reselling subscription services like HBO and Showtime, now accounts for 55 percent of all a la carte direct-to-consumer video subscriptions, according to new data from The Diffusion Group (TDG).

53 percent of all consumers who don’t get HBO through their pay TV provider are purchasing it via Amazon channels, TDG estimated in a new report titled The Future of Direct-to-Consumer Video Services. Those numbers are apparently even higher for some of the other TV networks: 72 percent of Showtime subscribers get the network’s direct-to-consumer offering via Amazon Channels, and 70 percent of Starz a la carte subscribers receive it from Amazon.

The Diffusion Group arrived at these estimates by surveying a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adult broadband users. “We used an online panel comprised of several million double opt-in respondents, one of the largest in the country, and added multiple quality checks to best ensure accurate outcomes,” explained the company’s president and director of research Michael Greeson.

However, it’s worth noting that the relative size of these subscription services inevitably leads to small sample sizes, which can result in significant variation. HBO’s online service surpassed 5 million subscribers this year, while Showtime has more 5 million subscribers together with CBS ALL Access.

A Showtime spokesperson told Variety after the initial publication of this story that the percentage reflected in this survey for Showtime was significantly off, but declined to comment on Amazon’s actual share.

Amazon Dominates Direct-to-Consumer TV Network Subscriptions (PRNewsfoto/The Diffusion Group)
CREDIT: Courtesy of The Diffusion Group

Amazon launched Channels as an add-on program for Prime Video subscribers at the end of 2015, and has since continuously grown the number of video services available through channels. The company also briefly experimented with selling its own niche video services through Channels, but gave up on that strategy earlier this year.

Sources at participating video providers have long told Variety that Amazon has become a massive reseller, easily outpacing Google’s and Apple’s app stores. The success of Amazon’s program also hasn’t been lost on Apple, which is reportedly looking to resell standalone video subscription services via its TV app on Apple TV and mobile devices. However, those plans may not materialize until next year, according to a recent Bloomberg report.

“Amazon has quietly built a stronghold in the burgeoning direct-to-consumer market,” said TDG president Michael Greeson. “Even with Apple’s pending entry into this space, we expect this dominance to expand further in the next five years.”

One advantage that Apple may have over Amazon is pricing: Amazon Channels is currently only available to Prime subscribers, who have to pay $119 per year after Amazon’s recent price increase. Apple on the other hand is expected to make its Channels clone available without any additional fees.

Update: This post was updated multiple times with further details on The Diffusion Group’s methodology as well as a statement from Showtime.

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