Three and a half years after its arrival in Latin America, Amazon Prime Video has amassed 7 million subscribers across the region, where the platform consolidated itself as the second biggest force in video streaming. In total numbers, the size of Prime Video is about a fifth of Netflix‘s base of Latin American customers. On the one hand, it has ample room to grow; on the other, it is poised to struggle more than its main rival with the launch of big new entrants in the market.
Amazon’s strategy has been very different from the start. Initially branded in the United States as Amazon Unbox, Amazon Video on Demand and Amazon Instant Video, the service had its expansion strongly linked to the Amazon Prime membership program that gives users of the e-commerce firm access to services, such as expedited delivery, at no additional cost.
Forecasts made by Digital TV Research, a consultancy specializing in the industry, paint a 2025 scenario where Prime Video, with projected 11 million subscribers, may be fighting with HBO Max for third-place in Latin America, after being surpassed by Disney+.
“We think Prime Video won’t take off as much as it has done inside the U.S. It is present in 200 countries worldwide, but with a pretty blanket approach. Amazon Prime [the premium subscription of the ecommerce platform] is available in 19 countries; in Latin America, it is available in Brazil and Mexico. Outside those countries, we think it will have less appeal”, says Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV.
But, of course, the streaming wars will offer a dynamic, hard to grasp, picture for quite some time, and part of this unpredictability has to do with Big Tech’s behavior in the field. Amazon and its peers may not be the guardians of instantly recognizable content yet, not on par with Disney’s and Warner’s at least, but they do have another equally relevant asset: piles of cash to spend.
Lottie Towler, senior analyst at Ampere Analysis, a British firm that gathers data on media and communications industries worldwide, says that Disney will present a serious contender, given its success in markets where it has already started, but Amazon’s years of operation gives it an advantage. “In Latin America, the fight for second place is potentially up for grabs, really. In a number of other markets, Amazon is not too far behind Netflix, so it is in a very strong position”, she reckons.
Jeff Bezos‘s company is spending its money wisely, installing experienced media and entertainment executives and creative minds to guide it through and investing in high-quality content that is making inroads in awards ceremonies like the Oscars and the Golden Globes.
Apple needs more original content to grow
Apple, the other Big Tech trying its hand in video streaming, has avenues for distributing media through its own hardware. Unless it invests more in exclusive shows or steps up deals with content providers, though, it may soon reach a ceiling for Apple TV+ in Latin America, where Apple’s devices are comparatively expensive and not as popular as in the U.S.
“Apple TV+ has been giving away a year’s free subscription to buyers of Apple’s top product. I don’t think many of these people will subscribe afterwards if they have to pay for the service. There aren’t many originals on it, with very little exclusive content. We think it will have a limited impact and only 2.7 million subscribers by 2025”, concludes Murray. If confirmed, this would actually mean the platform will lose 15% of its current base of subscriptions in Latin America.