Amazon breaks new SVOD ground
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Amazon breaks new SVOD ground

The Streaming Video On Demand (SVOD) market is a highly contested one – but the ‘big players’ are just a handful of companies: Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and HBO. One area that the big boys of the SVOD world have yet to conquer, though, is original film making. Amazon now look set to change that, as its family tragedy “Manchester by the Sea” has received an Oscar nomination for best picture.

Check out Manchester by the Sea’s trailer below:

This marks the first time ever that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has nominated a film produced by an online video service for the top honour at the Oscars. And it’s a big deal.

The reason it’s a big deal is that, in a market that’s swamped with great content, powerful business models, and viral appeal, an Oscar nomination differentiates Amazon from the likes of Netflix and Hulu. While the latter companies are looking to “change the game” around what we watch, as well as how and when, Amazon has been less disruptive to traditional video production. This means – for example – that Amazon, unlike Netflix, are willing to let film-makers retain the right to a cinematic release: Manchester by the Sea will spend a month in movie theatres before it hits Amazon Video.

For Netflix, and other players in the sector, this is a no-go. SVOD, to these companies, is about clearing away the old to make room for the new: total convenience, movies how and when you want them… no month-long waits to watch in the comfort of your own home.

But Amazon’s reluctance to force disruption on the movie industry means that it has options its rivals don’t: first and foremost, it can build hype for the type of artistic, big budget, movie productions that SVOD has had a hard time replicating so far. And, it should go without saying, Amazon’s creator-friendly approach is almost guaranteed to bring the biggest and best names on board… can you name a top-notch director who doesn’t want to see his films go to the cinema?

At the end of the day, how beneficial a hyped up drama with an Oscar nomination in tow will be to Amazon remains to be seen. But, when you think of titles like “Good Will Hunting,” “Last of the Mohicans,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” it’s a stretch to imagine them without the pomp of a proper cinematic build-up. In other words: while all the big SVOD providers are reaping the benefits of a younger, happily disrupted, viewership, there is undeniably still a market out there for traditional movies. Right now, Amazon is the only SVOD player who can cater to it.

Dominion holds Amazon in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.

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