Amazon Adds 'Stickiness' With Music And Clarkson. Spotify And Apple Take Note

There's no need to dust off the old cliche that content holds a position where it sits on a throne with a crown on its head, but the axiom is most certainly proven this week as Amazon not only launches Prime Music but also signs up the former Top Gear trio in a three-year deal that values at $250m.

As such, it has gained a scoop on a traditional television network, ITV, as well as a streaming rival, Netflix. Both were believed to have been in the bidding. I blogged a little while ago that as media commentators lined up to appear on television to guess where the trio -- led by the disgraced Jeremy Clarkson -- would go, very few people seemed to be mentioning non-traditional channels. Every major television network was trotted out, but only once did I hear someone mention that Netflix should be put in that mix. As it ends up, it is a digital streamer that will make the next series -- only it's Amazon rather than Netflix. Presumably Yahoo thought about it and decided that the costs involved would require a subscription model rather than purely supported by advertising?

The Mirror ran a very odd story about how the motoring trio could be losing 300 million viewers, on the basis that Amazon, which has not released figures, has an estimated 50 million Prime subscribers and Top Gear used to have a global audience of 350 million viewers. The point is, of course, that viewers are one thing and cold hard cash from subscribers is quite another -- particularly if it's revenue you're receiving rather than Netflix or Hulu.

Amazon is clearly trying to add stickiness to its Prime offering to keep people paying £70 a year. Although a couple of purchases per month will probably mean that Prime's free next-day delivery pays for itself, Amazon clearly needs some great content to keep people on board. Call me an old cynic, but we accidentally signed up twice to Prime through "free trial offers" that didn't seem to end somehow and just charged us £70. It has happened to my wife and I twice, and I'm sure we're not alone. The service has a lot of subscribers who thought they would give it a go and didn't pull out before the second month ushered in a bill for the year ahead. However, throw in some great content and a music service and people are far less likely to churn, and they're far more likely to actively sign up.

Amazon's television and movie lineup isn't great, in my opinion. Mind you, Netflix is not particularly good on movies but wins the streaming race hands down with great shows such as "House of Cards," "Orange is the New Black" and "The Bridge." Sky, on the other hand, has the best selection of movies and shows (at least of those that are not exclusive to Netflix). However, movies are a one-off -- you dip in once to watch and then that's it. Shows are a different kettle of fish. They build loyalty and appointments to view over each season and keep people subscribing waiting for the next batch of episodes. I suspect if you asked most Netflix customers they'll agree they only remain subscribed for a couple of excellent shows and it's quite likely if you ask right now, they're currently now airing.

That's exactly the kind of stickiness Amazon needs for Prime. That's what's behind Prime Music. Why would you quit Prime, or why would you not sign up, when you get free next-day delivery as well as a music service with roughly the same breadth as Apple Music? Why would you pay for Spotify when for a similar fee you can get free delivery and some movies and shows on Prime? That decision will become far simpler for Top Gear's claimed 350 million strong global following next year when the only way to see the new show the trio come up with is signing up for Prime. Any pain of the £70 signup fee is mitigated by the aforementioned Music, movie streaming and next-day delivery services.

If I were Spotify, I'd be more worried about Prime Music than Apple Music because the latter is as straight-up comparison of paying a single fee for a single service. Prime is a different beast and once people have signed up, for whatever reason, it will be be hard to justify another music subscription. It's for the same reason that I would suspect Apple Music is not going to be a runaway success. With television, it's different and so Netflix has less to fear. People are likely to hold out for the next series of their favourite show because it's exclusive content they can't get anywhere else. It's the opposite of music where services are pretty similar.

So, let's say it -- content is king, but more importantly, each kingdom only needs the one sovereign, and now that Amazon Prime is becoming all-encompassing, Spotify and Apple Music (in that order) had better watch their backs. 

This has been a milestone week for Amazon Prime, which is becoming stickier than ever for consumers who can easily justify the cost by leaving Spotify and not bothering to sign up to Apple Music.

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