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23 November 2017

Will APAC be central to exclusive Amazon, AMC deal?

Amazon and US entertainment company AMC Studios have inked their first output deal for exclusive international rights for original AMC Studios content. Bagging exclusive rights in 28 countries outside of the US suggests Amazon signed a sizable check – another show of intent that the company is willing to make significant content investments in its global expansion efforts where return on investment has so far been minimal.

Amazon has only named 5 out of the 28 new countries where it has landed content rights from AMC Studios, with Australia, Germany, India, Italy and Japan getting mentions in the initial agreement release. The missing launch territories remain a secret for now, but the second most populous country in the world is an obvious choice to focus on from the list provided, not just for this reason, but because India is probably the fiercest battleground between Amazon Prime Video and Netflix right now.

Netflix had an 11-month head start over Amazon Prime Video in India having launched there in December 2016, but has seemingly struggled. Both US streaming titans have tied up deals for local Bollywood content, but Amazon has been using its e-commerce presence to offer deals to Indian subscribers to join Prime and therefore get tied into the video service too, in a market where Netflix simply cannot return fire, such as discounted diapers.

Securing exclusive international rights to AMC originals is unlikely to contribute a huge boost to Amazon’s case in India, where investment in local content is key to success, but for AMC, the first fruits from the deal will see its new TV series The Terror fired into millions of new homes around the world next year. Hit series Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead are also part of the deal.

In the US, AMC Studios’ parent company AMC Networks operates streaming services including AMC Premiere, which is currently only available to Comcast’s Xfinity pay TV subscribers, plus AMC Live which is available via most pay TV and broadband providers in the US, plus DirecTV Now, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV and Hulu. AMC has also launched two niche OTT services, the horror movie service Shudder and the indie movie service Sundance Now. British Telecom holds an exclusive carriage agreement with AMC in the UK.

In addition, AMC Networks is reportedly in the final stages of rolling out an OTT service in Spain with 1,000 hours of VoD content and 17 TV channels, to be integrated into operator-owned platforms in the country. Spain has not been listed as one of the 28 countries in the Amazon deal and we think it is unlikely.

Japan is another interesting market, where the entrance of Amazon’s video operations predates Netflix, launching there in 2013 compared to a late entrance by Netflix in September 2015. Netflix got off to a slow start in Japan, but our own figures have forecast it to catch up with Amazon Prime Video by 2021, by which time both services will have 2.4 million video subscribers apiece. Total Prime subscribers will be much higher but, of course, not all of these tune regularly in to Prime Video.

If we had to bet on the remaining 23 countries of exclusive AMC Studios content on Amazon, we would suggest that a few more Asia Pacific countries will be in the mix, although this is a risky strategy where AMC has less recognition than in North America and Europe, but it already has vested interests in these areas not worth butchering; not just yet anyway.

Amazon Prime Video’s VP of worldwide television acquisition, Brad Beale, said, “This is another step in our efforts to extend the selection of premium TV shows available to Prime Video members worldwide. We are thrilled to bring new shows from AMC, starting with The Terror, to our Prime members around the world.”

Rick Olshansky, president of business operations, AMC Studios, said, “AMC Studios and Amazon already enjoy a successful programming partnership. This agreement underscores the high global demand for AMC’s must-have content and franchises and enables us to bring our popular shows to a wide global audience.”