ó Amazon.com is adding some a la carte options to its
$99-a-year Prime all-you-can-eat buffet.
what it says is a response to customer cries for more
flexibility and a cheaper entryway into the companyís
perks-loaded shopping enclosure, Amazon on Sunday
launched a video-only subscription for $9 a month, an
invitation to binge-watch series like
"Transparent" and "Mozart in the
also deployed a monthly $11 subscription that comes with
all the Prime perks, including special shipping
benefits, a music-streaming service and cloud photo
storage, plus the video. (Amazon recently launched a
similar package for Sprint customers.)
of these requires an annual commitment nor the upfront
$99 fee of the traditional Prime membership, which in
the long run remains a cheaper offer.
membership has reached more than half of U.S. households
and more than 70 percent of high-income households,
according to analysts with Piper Jaffray. This latest
move seems to indicate the Seattle tech and retail
behemoth is reaching out to those who balk at what they
still consider a big annual fee.
hasnít disclosed the number of Prime subscribers,
except to say that itís in the "tens of
video streaming-only option is an acknowledgment of the
success attained by Amazonís content production and
acquisition machine, into which the company sank more
than $1 billion in 2014 and which has yielded critical
successes such as "Transparent," an
award-winning transgender family drama.
certainly a gauntlet thrown at the feet of Hulu and
Netflix, competing streaming services that are also
accessed through month-to-month subscriptions and now
must face the possibility that Amazon Prime Video is
becoming more than a sideshow to Amazonís online store
ó or, at least, a dangerous sideshow.
always been Amazonís intention to use video content as
a hook to draw in recruits to its Prime ecosystem and
turn them into loyal patrons of the online site.
the latest stand-alone video offer does is make it
easier for new customers interested mostly in the video
offerings to get in the door. It also highlights how,
for a couple more bucks a month, they can have other
perks ó including unlimited shipping and streaming
music. And both monthly options make the $99 annual
membership seem like a steal.
CEO Jeff Bezos calls Prime ó which draws in billions
of dollars in revenue from membership fees per year ó
one of the three "big pillars" of the company,
an "all-you-can eat, physical-digital hybrid that
want Prime to be such a good value, youíd be
irresponsible not to be a member," Bezos wrote in a
letter to shareholders.