Can't see the Acorns for the trees? Amazon's Channels initiative helps niche SVoD visibility

SVoD stacking – the process of consumers taking multiple subscription OTT services simultaneously – is becoming increasingly common in the USA and Western Europe, as consumers continue to want to gain access to exclusive content. The recent launch of Amazons Channels in the UK and Germany aims to take advantage of this trend, providing consumers with the opportunity to subscribe to over 40 different SVoD services via an Amazon Prime account, making stacking services even easier.

The number of SVoD services per SVoD home has risen rapidly over the last year in Western markets. Ampere’s research shows that in both Germany and the UK the number of services per SVoD home is now over 2.5 – i.e. the average subscription OTT customer takes 2.5 services. This trend is even more apparent in the USA where the number of services has passed 4 per SVoD household, doubling year-on-year. 

One of the key factors behind this growth has been the proliferation of thematic and niche SVoD services – individually small, but collectively increasingly important. As part of this, initiatives such as Amazon Channels will start to become an important avenue for niche services to grow. Amazon offers a very visible consumer-facing buy-through route for the players on its platform.  While premium brands, such as Showtime or Starz, are able to operate successfully as standalone services in their own right, smaller players without comparable marketing budgets, brands or visibility, may struggle.  Ampere’s research already shows in the USA that niche services benefit more from integration into Amazon’s Channels programme than more mainstream players. Ampere assessed a selection of niche and mainstream subscription OTT services available within Amazon’s Channels offer, and found that customers of the more niche services were much more likely to also take Amazon Prime, than those of the mainstream services, who were proportionally more likely to subscribe direct.

The ‘a la carte’ model that Amazon has adopted is theoretically attractive for consumers, offering them an opportunity to pick and choose the services they want. But it is also a model which has been tried in the past in the pay TV market – ultimately discarded in favour of packages of channels, frequently better at driving upsale. As the Amazon Channels initiative continues to expands, and the number of channels grows further (it has already passed 100 channels in the USA) making it once again hard for one service to stand out from the crowd, the more niche players may find that banding together in subscription packages is the logical next step.