Biggest Threats to Broadcast Television: Episode 3

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Much like Facebook and Netlix, which we discussed in episodes 1 and 2 of our blog series – Amazon is positioning themselves to be one of the biggest threats to broadcast television.  Not only is Amazon creating and distributing their own original content – much like the aforementioned companies – but they’re also revolutionizing live content and e-commerce.

Amazon’s scripted content division – Amazon Studios – has been on a bit of a spending spree lately.  They’ve green-lit everything from a Woody Allen series to a live-action American Girl Doll series and they continue to snatch up feature films as well.  The lineup for this year’s Cannes Film Festival – the most prestigious film festival in the world – included 5 titles owned by Amazon Studios.  Last year at Sundance, Amazon bought the rights to 1 movie… this year: 6 (this includes the 2nd largest deal of the festival, valued at $10M).  Amazon’s eagerness to spend has helped inflate the price tag for a lot of indie movies.  Additionally, they’ve caused a new shift in the acquisition strategy going into these major film festivals.  Companies like Amazon and Netflix are buying the streaming rights for films and – in many instances – the theatrical release dates are an after-thought (or a non-factor).  This has caused other studios to start adapting their long-term plans as well.

Film and scripted series aside, personally, I think Amazon’s live content is making an even bigger impact.  Billed as part of Amazon Video (not Amazon Studios), “Style Code Live” began airing nightly back in March of this year.  The 30-minute program, which airs week days at 9pm EST, is dedicated to fashion and beauty and features tips from fashion experts – it’s billed as “QVC for the YouTube generation”.  What makes the program interesting is that it features interactive elements that allow you to buy products directly from Amazon while continuing to watch the program.  For example, let’s say a guest on the show is talking about a specific shirt.  Guess what?  You can click to buy that exact shirt while never taking your eyes off the live show.  While this program is the first of its kind for Amazon, it’s safe to assume that they’re working on developing additional shows built around different kinds of merchandise.

Programming like “Style Code Live” is a huge development.  It takes so much of the guesswork out of advertising.  In theory, you could track your sales in real time and you know it’s directly related to a specific piece of content.  And by creating their own original content, Amazon is not only syphoning potential viewers from other networks, but their approach has the potential to completely change the way advertisers approach live content.  It’s the perfect blend of content and commerce and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

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