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Amazon video Weight carrying admits

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Amazon Admits Video Isn't Carrying Its Own Weight

AP

Amazon Admits Video Isn't Carrying Its Own Weight

newsfeedback@fool.com (Jeremy Bowman)

Sep 23, 2017 Updated 3 hrs ago

Amazon Admits Video Isn't Carrying Its Own Weight

Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos is ordering a strategic revamp at Amazon Studios, its original video division. The e-commerce giant is cancelling shows like Season 2 of "Z: The Beginning of Everything," which it had already begun writing, and "The Last Tycoon," which just launched its first season. Both shows were dramas about the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Instead, Bezos has directed his Studios team to find a "Game of Thrones"-level hit, according to Variety. That statement in and of itself could be the most uncontroversial in Bezos's history. Like an NBA owner clamoring for the next LeBron James or an investor searching for the next Amazon, the wish is obvious -- but fulfilling it isn't so easyl

A scene from Game of Thrones. Image source: HBO.

Of course, Amazon, like every other broadcaster and streamer, would love to have the next "Game of Thrones." It's been an award-sweeping global phenomenon for nearly a decade, and the centerpiece in HBO's leading catalog of original TV.

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) thought it had its own "Game of Thrones" with its epic "Marco Polo" series. However, that show was critically panned, and the big-budget adventure was canceled after just two seasons.

But the new strategic direction of Amazon Studios, which comes as the company is launching several new shows, including a comedy with Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen and a Seth Rogen-produced comic book adaptation, underscores the financial constraints the division is under.

Gotta pay the bills

Amazon is spending $4.5 billion on video content this year, a staggering figure that puts it behind Netflix at $6 billion and ahead of Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX) at $2.5 billion.

But unlike Netflix or HBO, Amazon doesn't charge its viewers directly, making its video available to all Prime members. In the words of Bezos, the unique Prime business model means that when it wins a Golden Globe, it sells more shoes. Free video streaming is an enticement to get more people to join Prime, which Amazon hopes will encourage them to shop more as they get free two-day shipping with the service. 

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