On its fourth-quarter earnings call Thursday, Amazon said it has tripled the number of original film and TV titles offered via Prime Video since 2018. On Friday, it provided receipts.
In an SEC filing, the company said it spent $13 billion on music, movies and series in 2021. That was an 18% uptick from 2020, though the comparison is affected by Covid. Even when music and live sports are in the mix (neither of which is a business for Netflix), Amazon’s overall total was significantly lower than Netflix’s $17 billion in 2021.
When amortization is factored in, video and music costs came to $10.7 billion in 2021, up from $6.8 billion in 2020. (Netflix’s amortized spend in 2021 was $13.6 billion.)
Interestingly, the tab for advertising and promotion was $16.9 billion, even steeper than what Amazon paid to license or make content. The 2021 level jumped 55% from $10.9 billion in 2020.
The ramp-up in video programming, from NFL rights to an ambitious take on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, was cited by Amazon as one reason for its decision to raise the price of a Prime subscription. Along with the earnings report Thursday, the company said it would hike the annual subscription rate by $20, the third increase since the customer loyalty program began.
While there is some correlation between the amount of fresh programming titles coming to Prime and the program’s subscription base, not all Prime members stream video. The company keeps a tight lid on data, but it has also been spending aggressively on faster shipping for Prime members.
“We continue to make Prime better,” CFO Brian Olsavsky said during the earnings call. In addition to expanded same-day shipping, he said the company is focused on delivering “more high-quality entertainment.”
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