Amazon is set to go global with its streaming video business.
The Seattle tech giant is “on the verge of a massive global rollout” of its Prime streaming video service, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
That aligns with what Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear, which inked a massive deal with Amazon last year, tweeted on Wednesday in regard to his new show The Grand Tour. Clarkson said the show, which streams exclusively on Amazon for Prime members, will be available in 200 territories.
Currently, Amazon’s streaming video service is only available in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Austria, and Japan, with India — where Amazon plans to spend $300 million on original content — coming soon.
So. People of Ireland, Canada, Australia and pretty well everywhere else. You WILL be able to watch the Grand Tour. Amazon has gone global.
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) November 16, 2016
It's going to be available in 200 territories. That's pretty much everywhere.
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) November 16, 2016
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who doesn’t tweet much, sent out his own message on Twitter about The Grand Tour on Thursday. Bezos also said that the show will be available “globally” in December, while Amazon’s website for The Grand Tour noted the same.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) November 17, 2016
It’s not yet clear if other Amazon video content will also be available beyond the existing countries where the company’s video service is offered.
Still, Amazon seems poised to further challenge industry leader Netflix, which is now available in more than 190 countries after a big expansion this past January.
In July, Amazon said it planned to double down on its spending for video content during the second half of 2016 compared to the same period last year. Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky added that the company will “nearly triple our offering to customers of new Amazon original TV shows and movies” compared to last year.
Olsavsky talked about the video spend and increased costs again during last month’s earnings call after Amazon missed Wall Street’s expectations.
A new study by IHS Markit on television production trends found that Amazon and Netflix both more than doubled spending on new shows in the last two years. Amazon dropped $1.22 billion in 2013 and spent $2.67 billion in 2015, according to the study.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon and Netflix have used different strategies for their original content, with Amazon focusing on regional original series’, and Netflix making shows for global audiences.
Last month, Netflix rebounded from one of its worst quarters in years, posting better-than-expected subscriber growth and revenue in the third quarter. In the company’s quarterly letter to shareholders, it acknowledged that Amazon is becoming a global force in the streaming market though research data shows that Netflix is still way ahead.
“We presume that Amazon Prime Video will become as global as YouTube and Netflix this fall with the launch of the Jeremy Clarkson show,” Netflix wrote in the letter.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings downplayed any one competitor’s impact on the company in a question about Amazon during Netflix’s third quarter earnings call.
“There are so many competitors out there for screen time, and we win today such a small percentage of total screen time, that moves by specific competitors are unlikely to have a material effect,” Hastings said. “What affects us is can we continue to win affection, and that’s through doing all this incredible content, through expanding globally, having all those rights be global eventually, so those are the things we’re focused on.”
Award-winning shows like “Transparent,” “Man in the High Castle,” and “Mozart in the Jungle” have helped Amazon Video quickly become a competitor in the video streaming space. The model was pioneered by Netflix, with original series like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.”
This year, Amazon was nominated for 16 Emmy Awards, up from 12 last year; Netflix had 54 nominations, up 20 from last year, and good enough for third overall (HBO had 94 and FX had 58). Amazon ended up winning six awards on Sunday, while Netflix won nine.
Originally, Amazon’s original content was only available to annual Prime subscribers who pay $99 per year. In April, Amazon began offering a monthly $8.99 Prime subscription so members could access its video streaming service. The move was a direct swing at Netflix and its popular monthly subscription plan.
In his annual letter to shareholders, Bezos noted Amazon’s original shows, noting how they “feed the Prime flywheel.”
“These shows are great for customers, and they feed the Prime flywheel – Prime members who watch Prime Video are more likely to convert from a free trial to a paid membership, and more likely to renew their annual subscriptions,” Bezos wrote.
In the shareholders letter, Bezos also noted that Prime is one of three pillars of success at Amazon, in addition to its e-commerce marketplace business and cloud computing platform, Amazon Web Services. Some say that Amazon’s video arm could ultimately become the company’s fourth pillar.
This past May, Amazon also announced a new service that competes with YouTube called Amazon Video Direct, a self-service option that lets content creators upload video for distribution through Amazon Prime Video or other methods, including ad-supported video, rental, purchase or subscription.