Amazon.com Inc., the e-commerce giant that’s shaking up the entertainment industry, says it’s open to pursuing deals to stream content through cable operators’ set-top boxes, much like Netflix has done in the U.S. and Europe.
“Amazon is definitely open to those partnerships and to be fair, we haven’t done as much there as Netflix have done,” Alex Green, managing director of Amazon Video, said Thursday at the Cable Congress conference in Brussels. So far, Amazon has been more focused on growing its customers and building its own devices, he said. But “we do talk to all sorts of players in the cable industry.”
Amazon, which won its first Academy Awards last month for movies “Manchester by the Sea,” and “The Salesman,” is challenging pay-TV providers and video-game developers as the Seattle-based company expands beyond its online retail roots with growing media ambitions.
The rise of internet-based subscription services from the likes of Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube, have stoked analyst predictions that consumers will increasingly ditch cable and kill traditional TV.
Liberty Global, billionaire John Malone’s Europe-focused cable company, may be one operator to bring Amazon Prime onto its set-top boxes, which already offer more than 100 applications including for Netflix, YouTube and Videoland. Liberty last year agreed to expand a deal with Netflix in the U.K. to its other markets, and is evaluating whether to offer Amazon’s video service, said Eric Tveter, chief executive officer of Liberty’s Central Europe unit, earlier at the conference, according to a report by Digitaltveurope.net.
“We would partner with almost anybody, but our interests have to be aligned,” Balan Nair, chief technology and innovation officer for London-based Liberty, said at the conference. “When our interests and Amazon’s interests are aligned, you’ll see them on it, but at this point there’s a reason they’re not on our box.”
Nair and Green declined to specifically comment on any discussions in subsequent interviews.
The traditional TV industry is divided on whether to welcome internet streaming and video-on-demand providers onto set-top boxes. Liberty Global believes offering Netflix has helped it hold onto subscribers by improving the ease with which they can access various subscription services, while Rupert Murdoch-backed satellite TV provider Sky Plc has steered clear of any deal with Netflix and boosted spending on its own content instead. Netflix and YouTube also have deals with Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable-TV provider.
Amazon believes there’s room for all in TV and “it’s not a zero-sum game,” Green said.
“Amazon, Netflix, other OTT services can easily co-exist with the cable industry, with pay-TV, as we do already,” Green said, referring to so-called over-the-top providers that use internet to deliver content. “The overlaps are very high between subscribers to high-value pay-TV packages and to subscribers of Netflix and Amazon and other SVOD services,” he said, referring to subscription video-on-demand.
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