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Amazon Prime Video goes global

News, 21 November 2016

SEATTLE: Amazon Prime Video, which is currently available in just a handful of countries, is poised to expand into about 200 markets in a move that is expected to present a serious challenge to Netflix.

According to sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the e-commerce giant is preparing a massive rollout of its video streaming service beyond its established markets of the US, UK, Germany, Austria and Japan.

That will give the company the opportunity to compete with Netflix, which announced plans in January that it would expand into 130 countries on top of its existing 60 markets.

Amazon's initiative appears to be driven by the commercial hopes it has pinned on The Grand Tour, its exclusive car show that aired for the first time at the end of last week.

It is the first programme to be fronted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May since the British trio left the BBC's hugely successful Top Gear show in controversial circumstances last year.

Hints about Amazon's plans to roll out its video service first emerged when Clarkson tweeted last week that viewers in 200 countries will be able to watch the show in December. The three presenters also posted a YouTube video, confirming that The Grand Tour would be made available worldwide.

Amazon has high hopes for the show and is investing £4.5m per episode, almost as much as the £5m per episode that Netflix is reported to have spent on The Crown, its original biopic of the Queen.

Jay Marine, the head of Amazon Prime Video in Europe, told the Guardian that he thought The Grand Tour will prove to be a "game changer" for the company, while noting that more than 40% of its audience are women.

"I'm not trying to be boastful but it really is a TV moment with these guys coming back on air," he said. "There's so much interest and anticipation in the UK market especially that I think it can be a game changer for Prime Video."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, Guardian; additional content by Warc staff