Amazon has more subscribers for its streaming video service in the U.S. than does Netflix, but a large segment of those customers aren’t taking advantage of the online retailer’s content library.
A Consumer Intelligence Research Partners study earlier this year estimated Amazon ended 2015 with 54 million U.S. members for its Prime service — up 35 percent from the previous year. Netflix ended 2015 with about 44.7 million U.S. subscribers.
But according to a new CutCableToday survey, one in five Amazon Prime Members still aren’t using its video streaming service. Undoubtedly, the company has been well aware of this, just recently announcing it is now offering an unbundled, monthly, video-only option of its popular Prime membership.
We surveyed 380 current Amazon Prime members as part of a larger survey and came away with some, perhaps surprising, takeaways.
This spring, we surveyed 380 random current Amazon Prime members (conducted online independent from CutCableToday), asking them four questions. Our goal? To find out why people pay $99 for a year and sign up for Prime.
Here are the questions we asked:
1. How often do you use each TV streaming service? (This included Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Sling TV, HBO Now, etc.) The answer choices for this question were daily, weekly, monthly or never.
2. Did you know that Amazon Prime subscribers have access to a library of streaming video content for no additional charge?
3. Are you an Amazon Prime subscriber? (The answers choices were — yes for two years; yes for one year; yes for less than one year; no, I never have been; or no, but I used to be.
4. What is the primary reason you subscribed to Amazon Prime? (Respondents could check as many as apply, including Prime Instant Video, Prime Music, Free 2-day shipping or other.)
Nearly 20 percent of Amazon Prime members never use the video streaming that comes with their subscription.
That’s right. One out of five Prime members (19.2% to be precise) have never streamed a lick of content on their mobile device or over-the-top device, such as a Roku.
Believe it or not, 8% of Prime members are unaware their membership gives them access to a library of streaming video content.
It’s fair to say that Prime’s video streaming service hasn’t been marketed as well as it could have been up to this point, but with the recent announcement of a monthly, video-only Prime subscription, that looks to be changing. Not only can you stream a lot of highly rated original content and licensed content that isn’t on Netflix, including a fairly impressive library of older HBO shows, you can actually download content to take on the road when you don’t want to use data. PCMag.com in January published a piece titled, “9 Amazon Prime Video Features You May Not Know.” Not surprisingly, the fact that you can stream video wasn’t one of the nine items.
A majority of Prime subscribers — 91% to be exact — said the free two-day shipping was the primary reason they signed up for the service.
Despite several new investments into original programming, only 22 percent of subscribers said they signed up for Prime solely for the opportunity to stream content. Prime subscribers also have an opportunity to add-on Showtime and Starz subscriptions to their membership, perhaps making it an even more valuable streaming option.
Prime Music, similar to Spotify and Apple Music, was the third reason people signed up for the service. The remaining responses were a bevy of “other” options, including cheaper next-day delivery, free Kindle books and forgetting to cancel the free trial.
When it comes to viewership on streaming services, Netflix is still king.
According to the survey, only 10 percent of Prime members use Amazon’s streaming video on a daily basis, while 38 percent watch Netflix habitually.
More than a third of Prime viewers watch content using the service at least once per month.
After Netflix, the next highest percentage of people who say they use a streaming service at least once per day goes to Hulu (12 percent) then Prime (10 percent), followed by HBO NOW and Amazon pay per content service (3 percent).
A majority of Prime members also have a Netflix subscription.
Prime members love having Netflix as part of their streaming bundle. And more than a third — 35 percent, actually — have a Hulu subscription.
This is likely due to the fact that people are willing to pay for access to specific shows, like House of Cards on Netflix, and network programming (ABC, NBC, etc.) on Hulu.
Amazon Prime members are 10 times likelier than non-Prime members to pay for additional TV shows and movies using Amazon Instant Video
About 40% of Prime members rent or buy video content from Amazon Instant Video at least once a month. This is compared to just under 4% of non-Prime members who do the same. This isn’t entirely out of the ordinary, although unique to Amazon because it offers it as an option. Netflix subscribers who watch the service using an Apple TV, for instance, likely also purchase TV shows or movies through iTunes.
What These Findings Mean
Amazon still has plenty of room to grow its Prime streaming service into a must-need subscription. The fact that more than 90 percent of people are solely Prime members because they want free two-day shipping on purchases shows that those people don’t take the streaming service service too seriously. It’s more or less a bonus to the free shipping benefit.
Amazon has certainly taken note, and by now offering an monthly subscription option for streaming, the company is positioning itself to compete with Netflix. If Amazon wants more people to subscribe to Prime and use the streaming service, it also needs to continue investing in original programming and score some wins with syndicated content, like Hulu did with Seinfeld.
Will Amazon Prime be able to catch up with Netflix in the video streaming game? Only time will tell.
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