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amazon’s deal with top gear trio indicative of global trend August 24, 2015

Posted by nicholas gill in Uncategorized.
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Article in M&M Global I penned on the content streaming trends and the impact of Amazon Prime signing the former Top Gear trio Clarkson, Hammond and May.

The former Top Gear presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, signing up with Amazon is a real coup. Not only does it make a firm statement of the brand’s intent to go toe-to-toe with Netflix on original content, but it also continues to signal a shift away from traditional content providers.

We’ve already seen actors and directors wanting to work for organisations like Sky because they offer greater creative freedom and are able to take more risks because of their advertiser and subscriber funded model.

We’re now seeing the (currently) ad-free subscription streaming services take this to another level with original content also being distributed in a way that plays straight into our desire to time-shift our way of consuming content – they understand their audience and, like any clever brand, are designing their products to meet their customers’ needs, rather than the other way around.

Binge watching is now the norm and an entire generation has become used to watching every series and even the entire canon in one extended sitting rather than waiting a week to see the cliff-hanger resolved.

Spotted an opportunity

This change in consumer behaviour was also in evidence when Amazon Prime stepped in in response to a petition by fans of the BBC TV series, Ripper Street, to bring the show back for a third series. With the BBC not listening, Amazon spotted an opportunity – marking the first time that a subscription-based video-on-demand service became the main backer of an established TV show.

While we often hear the populist ‘TV is dead’ argument, it couldn’t be further from the truth. We are watching more TV than we ever used to. But across more devices and in different ways, for example, in the UK 11% of our daily total video consumption is now ‘playback TV’ and 67% is live TV (source: 2014 ThinkBox). While quality output is still winning, people will keep watching.

The shift in ways of consuming content is more evident in the US than in the UK where pay per view is further established and where breakthrough content such as Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards, which literally dropped overnight, has enabled fans to consume the entire show’s opening series in one supersized gulp followed by cult viewing such as Orange is the New Black.

But the approach works hand in hand with traditional superpowers like HBO continuing to invest in cinematic scale and quality series such as Game of Thrones which continues to stick to the traditional model and make people wait for series finales. And who can argue with the global viewing figures and Emmy awards for dragons, swords and Peter Dinklage?

Bete noire

Yet the streaming services are also attacking the bête noire of almost every television viewer – the mid series break. Sure, your PVR will pick up on it again when it comes back but you’ve forgotten, fallen out of love again. And then it stacks up on your PVR not watched list. The mid-series break feels outdated and with the technology we are now used to, it feels like the equivalent break in the film when they had to change the reels. I still haven’t watched the second half of Gotham because of this.

But, back to talent poaching. Having the former Top Gear trio on-board gives Amazon a real string to its bow, and it will undoubtedly have an impact when it comes to people choosing between streaming services.

It will be interesting to see how many of the global Top Gear audience follow Clarkson, May and Hammond and choose to sign up to a subscription based model rather than relying on free broadcasting. And also how the new Chris Evans-helmed Top Gear on the BBC will compete in content and viewing figures.

In my view this move has the potential to have a major impact on the growth of Amazon Prime in the immediate future – and it is a trend we’re likely to see in numerous markets around the world – as long as the content is up to scratch.

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