Amazon adds ‘millions’ of Prime customers

Amazon Instant VideoAmazon said that it has added “millions” of customers in the last three months to Amazon Prime – its subscription service that, in the US, includes unlimited streaming access to some 41,000 movies and TV episodes. 

Discussing Amazon’s Q3 results on the company’s earnings call, Amazon CFO Tom Szkutak said “Prime is growing fast” and the firm was seeing “very good retention of Prime numbers.”

Though the firm did not break down the exact number of sign-ups, it is the first time it has indicated the scale of Prime sign-ups on a quarterly basis. “In terms of Prime video, we are getting great usage from a broad set of customers on Kindle as well as other devices and the adoption is going very well. At this point, we can’t share any specific metrics today, but we like what we see,” said Szkutak.

Among the highlights of the quarter, Amazon referenced its original TV show pilots initiative. The company will use viewer feedback and help determine which pilots should be produced as series to air exclusively on Prime Instant Video and Amazon’s LoveFilm in the UK in 2014, with Amazon recently commissioning six kids show pilots and three new half-hour pilots created by a mix of Oscar, Emmy and Tony-nominated writers.

In the US Amazon Prime costs US$79 (€57) per year and includes free two-day shipping on millions of physical goods, access to more than 350,000 Kindle books that subscribers can access for free, and unlimited access to Prime Instant Video.

In the UK and Germany, Amazon offers a similar video-streaming service through its stand-alone LoveFilm business. In these markets, an Amazon Prime subscription does not include bundled video.

Asked why Amazon’s approach to subscription VOD in these markets was so different, Szkutak said that “content in the US on as part of Amazon Prime is something that we have been looking at very carefully,” though he would not speculate on its future video plans.

Overall in Q3, Amazon announced net sales of US$17.09 billion, up 24% year-on-year. The firm made a net loss of US$41 million, or US$0.09 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $274 million, or $0.60 per diluted share, in third quarter 2012.