Programmatic Lunch

Amazon's internal Prime Video figures suggest original content brought in 5m subscribers

Tim Maytom

More than 5m people worldwide signed up for Amazon Prime last year due to the company's selection of original video content, according to internal company documents. The documents, which were obtained by Reuters, also show that Amazon's US audience for video programming was approximately 26m customers.

The reports seen by Reuters focused on 19 shows exclusive to Amazon, breaking down their cost, viewership and the number of people they brought into Prime, along with other metrics. According to Amazon's calculations, the shows account for as much as a quarter of total Prime sign-ups from late 2014 to early 2017.

The eCommerce giant has increasingly invested in original video programming over the past few years, with chief executive Jeff Bezos fairly transparent in both his desire to compete with platforms like Netflix, and his tactic of using entertainment to drive retail sales.

"When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes," said Bezos at a 2016 technology conference, where he also claimed that customers who stream film and TV on Amazon renew their Prime subscriptions "at higher rates, and they convert from free trials at higher rates".

Video has become one of Amazon's largest expenditures, with the firm paying out around $5bn (£3.6bn) annually for original and licensed content. The internal documents broke down the logic behind this spending for each of the analysed shows.

For example, the first season of The Man in the High Castle, a drama based on an alternate histroy where the Axis powers won World War Two, drew in 8m US viewers as of early 2017. The programme cost $72m to produce and market, and attracted in 1.15m new subscribers, breaking down to an average cost of $63 per subscriber.