Entertainment and technology companies such as Sony and Microsoft are exploring new avenues for online services that would offer film and TV content through video game consoles as concerns mount over Netflix domination, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The move pops-up amid concern that Netflix could end up dominating electronic distribution of Hollywood content in a way similar to how Apple's iTunes dominates music.
Besides, Amazon.com is busy formulating a Netflix-type subscription service for TV shows and movies, according to the Journal. While digital media distribution might seem like a leap from Amazon's retail origins, a summary of the company's recent history clearly says otherwise.
Amazon is currently considered as the counter-iTunes as its On Demand store that imparts much of the same content for a similar price as the Apple counterpart but there is a key difference. Amazon lets you keep what you buy; pay for a TV show and it becomes yours until time ends -- or until Amazon is no more but the former will probably happen first. Pay for a TV show on Apple TV and it is yours for just a matter of hours.
Now Amazon and OnLive, a startup that provides video games over the Web, in which Warner Bros. is an investor, are combinedly said to be working on a similar service via subscriptions and other offers.
As the Internet TV is facing a relatively difficult time getting off the ground, Amazon has also found its way onto several key platforms including set-top boxes from TiVo, Roku, many Internet-connect Blu-ray players and Google TV.
While Internet TV is grappling to get sufficiently out of the gate, recent studies show consumers maintain a steady interest and will to pay for the service, and that it’s inevitably going to make its way into living rooms everywhere. When it does, Amazon’s established relationship with front-running providers could give its subscription dreams a huge boon.
“I think 'concerned' is a gross understatement,” OnLive CEO Steve Perlman told the Journal about the feelings of entertainment companies towards Netflix's rising online distribution power. “There is a snowball effect. At some point they have so much content, if you want to get your stuff distributed you have to go with them.”
Nevertheless, subscription plans are swiftly catching on. The WSJ reports that during the last year, Netflix has seen its subscriber number increase 52 percent since last year, but also says that Amazon would be able to offer a lower rate. Early speculation is that consumers would be offered the streaming package bundled with Amazon Prime for $79 a year, compared to Netflix’s $95 a year.
The Journal emphasized that competition for content would initiate bid up its value. “We are always in favor of a vibrant, competitive ecosystem,” Zander Lurie, senior vp of strategic development at CBS Corp. told the Journal.
Just because a massive entity such as Amazon or a lively start-up as Onlive decides to jump into a different pool does not mean the current swimmers need to watch for shit in the pool right away. Regardless of Amazon’s rumored plans, Netflix is probably far from feeling threatened. Netflix's storied success should gently lead these companies and others into the deep end and not the very effective sink or swim method Netflix experienced years ago.