July 24, 2006
Amazon Branching Into Digital Video Content

While Google has stepped up its fight with YouTube to become another viable form of Internet video sharing, Amazon is ready to take on the cultural powerhouse iTunes. Apple will face competition from what has become the online site for everything pop culture related in physical form--Amazon has built its reputation on providing mail delivery of anything currently available and links to resellers to get anything that's not on the market right now.

Now, they are going to enter the fight full-fledged for downloading digital content, particularly focusing on television and movie downloading. While iTunes, by its very name, has its focus on music, Apple has been innovative in pushing content provider after content provider to move their archives or current programs to iTunes, as has been written about here and here and here and here and here.

According to the Advertising Age article which broke the story, Amazon Digital Video is planning on competing with Apple's model when the new site opens in August, providing not just download fees but also subscription options. The structure will otherwise be very similar to iTunes, in that a program will have to be downloaded to users' computers to access teh Amazon Digital Video store.

With news breaking in the past week of CinemaNow's new burn-to-DVD services, the landscape seems to be changing rather quickly for the ability to digitally download television and film content. And, with Amazon's reputation already more than solidified through all their other offerings, one has to think it will be hard for this enterprise not to be profitable for them. Just imagine, for those of us who are impatient, if we are offered a chance to view a movie immediately in a prominently placed spot on the Amazon page for ordering the DVD.

Since delayed gratification is not an American speciality, they will probably catch a lot of tempted viewers this way. And, according to the Advertising Age article, the site will offer viewers the chance to either download them to own permanently or, through the subscription service, to use the content for a short time in a relationship similar to the Netflix rental model.

The article mentions that Amazon's first foray into original digital content has been the show Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher, an interview show that is updated weekly and available for download as sponsored content. The site appears to be interested in expanding its reach not only into distributing extant video content digitally but perhaps, if the download model is accepted, creating further exclusive digital video content.