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article imageOp-Ed: Amazon launches standalone streaming service, undercuts Netflix

By Paul Wallis     Apr 19, 2016 in Entertainment
New York - As sure as night follows day, Amazon has made an obvious but necessary move in to the streaming market. The new service bypasses Amazon Prime, which is interesting, but also delivers a significant market blow to competitors.
Reports indicate that this is a streaming-only, straightforward service, basically a sawn-off specialized version of Amazon Prime, and charges monthly fees, not yearly like Prime. Consumers will be able to tailor some aspects of the new service, for additional fees.
The overall impression is that this move is a direct shot at market leader Netflix, with some added weight from the sort of capital and market reach that Amazon can bring to bear on production companies. Which is the better deal — Netflix or Amazon? Amazon says that the new service includes “subscriptions from Starz, Showtime, or any other participating provider,” additional incentives for the production sector.
If you’re getting the impression that the new approach is pretty much inevitable, you’re right. Streaming is basically burying old media in its own backyard, and the new packages are part of the normal price/develop/repackage thing that’s been going on for a while.
The real significance, ironically, isn’t the commercial side. It’s the fact that streaming is fundamentally altering global media in ways which are reminiscent of YouTube when it went from fringe novelty to revelation to part of daily life for the world. For artists, producers, consumers, and just about every possible mainstream and niche market, this is an unchaining process.
When you bear in mind the massive impact of the shift from network TV to streaming, hitting the bottom line of every media company on the planet, the Amazon move really means “Game On”, in so many ways. Streaming had been limping along as a theoretical idea until Netflix, with vague references in the past to internet TV and other badly-defined possibilities for some years, until it actually happened.
Bringing in major players and consumer bait prices is the sure sign of a gigantic shift in media. The market goes where the money goes, and few if any old media companies have the clout or the capacity to match Amazon on what is, after all, its home turf.
The obvious spinoffs and evolutionary processes in terms of tech will be interesting to watch. Tablets and phones will need more processor grunt. Small screens, not necessarily what you want when watching a favorite show, and a bit cramped anyway for running things, may give way to more economic connections to bigger but cheaper screens.
Ironically, the PC may be reborn as a much-streamlined TV/home comm hub with links to external remote access for users, simply because that’s the easy way to manage these things. Streaming uses quite a lot of capacity, so the upgrades become inevitable, Moore’s Law in a new dress, in some ways. Watch this process; it’ll be very efficient, eventually. It’s really just a question of how long it takes the tech guys to see the obvious.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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