LoveFilm, Amazon’s digital video service in the UK, announced a deal today with NBC Universal. Long story short: they’re going to be streaming and renting US made movies and TV shows in the European market to their reported 2 million members in the UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.
This is video content so it’s not of much interest to an ebook blog. But what does interest me is how this might affect the UK launch of the Kindle Fire (Amazon’s money maker).
There have been rumors in the past that the Kindle Fire was imminently launching in the UK. Clearly that hasn’t happened yet, but most everyone would agree that it is bound to happen. The KF is a great way to sell content so I don’t see why Amazon wouldn’t launch it in the UK.
But have you ever wondered why they have not done it yet? It’s not that Amazon can’t make enough Kindle Fires nor do I think distribution is the issue. No, I’m wondering if Amazon is still waiting on the content.
The Kindle Fire is widely regarded as Amazon’s sales platform for content. Between apps, ebooks, video, and music, Amazon has most of their bases covered in terms of entertainment. At least, they do in the US; the UK situation is a different matter.
So today I thought I’d take a look at the Amazon’s current situation in the UK. I’m writing this post almost as much for my own interest as I am to inform my readers. (The next time that a Kindle Fire UK rumor rears its head I want to have the facts lined up to explain whether the rumor is plausible. Plus I like sharing my notes.)
For some types of content, it’s easy to know what Amazon’s doing. We know that Amazon has a UK Kindle Store and that they sell mp3s at Amazon.co.uk. I also know that the Amazon Appstore doesn’t work in the UK for the simple reason that Amazon won’t let it. It’s a software block, not a licensing issue, and it can be turned off at any time.
But video content, now that’s something I’m not familiar with. So today I asked a couple questions of the PR people and did a little Googling.
LoveFilm offers DVDs, streaming, and pay-per-view. The streaming covers about 7,300 titles and the DVD titles include around 70 thousand. They were bought by Amazon in early 2011 and launched their streaming service in late 2011.
So does Amazon have the video content lined up in the UK to support the Kindle Fire? I don’t know. LoveFilm reportedly has contracts with most of the studios (US, UK, and more). But those contracts cover streaming, DVDs, and pay-per-view. What LoveFilm doesn’t do is sell episodes and movies.
That might be a problem for them; Amazon has always been bigger on selling than streaming. But I suspect that Amazon might decide to launch the KF in the UK with what they have rather than waiting for what they’d like to have.
So if they have the content, what’s holding up the launch? I doubt it’s technical delays to get the services running as Android apps; Amazon could have done that already.
If I had to guess why Amazon didn’t launch by now (May 2012) it was because they’re waiting on the next Kindle Fire. There’s bound to be a second model coming and it’s likely coming some time this year. So it would make some sense for Amazon to devote resources to getting that model running better than it would for them to invest in a model which they planned to replace.
Of course, I could be wrong. Amazon might decide to surprise us all and launch the KF-UK next month.
What do you think?