UPDATED with details from analyst call: Amazon reported healthy revenue numbers for the third quarter, up 34% to $43.7 billion from the year-earlier period, and CEO Jeff Bezos said Alexa voice services hold the key to continued growth. The revenue results exceeded Wall Street projections of $41.6 billion and shares started to rise in after-market trading.
Although many in the media and entertainment business were eager to see whether Bezos & Co. address the scandal involving Amazon Studios chief Roy Price, they were mum today on the post-earnings analyst call. Notably, though, CFO Brian Olsavsky said Amazon remains “very bullish on the video business,” and that “we will continue to invest in video in 2018.”
Price was fired amid sexual harassment allegations on October 17, and exits by head of comedy and drama Joe Lewis and head of alternative Conrad Riggs soon followed. The TV division has seen spotty results, but Olsavsky noted today that Amazon’s Prime members who watch video spend more and are more engaged overall, and touted the data that can be matched with video viewing to refine a programming approach and overall e-commerce strategy .
Amazon also said that its NFL Thursday Night Football games on Amazon Prime Video have drawn a total of 7.1 million views in the first four games — a respectable number at this stage in the streaming game but one that comes from Prime members across 187 countries and territories. Viewing time across living room devices, mobile apps and the web averaged 51 minutes.
In the release sent out with the numbers, a quote attributed to Bezos mentioned the name “Alexa” no less than eight times. Here’s just a sample: “In the last month alone, we’ve launched five new Alexa-enabled devices, introduced Alexa in India, announced integration with BMW, surpassed 25,000 skills, integrated Alexa with Sonos speakers, taught Alexa to distinguish between two voices, and more,” he said.
The earnings release cited recent TV-related rollouts, including a new 4K-capable Fire stick and “far-field voice control” on Alexa systems, which enables couch potatoes to speak a TV program they want to see and have it pop up on the screen.