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Amazon is 'the dark horse' in streaming as tech giants ‘have nothing to lose': Analyst

·Senior Reporter
·3 min read

The streaming wars have intensified with retail giant Walmart (WMT) officially partnering with Paramount Global (PARA), while YouTube TV (GOOGL) is reportedly set to launch an online channel store to compete with the likes of Roku (ROKU), Amazon (AMZN), and Apple (AAPL).

But with so much competition and a plethora of new strategies peppering the landscape, one platform is standing out to analysts: Amazon Prime Video.

"From a growth perspective, I actually think Amazon can really be the dark horse," Geetha Ranganathan, Bloomberg Intelligence senior media analyst, told Yahoo Finance.

She added the service "can do a lot of damage," citing its exclusive 15-game "Thursday Night Football" package. The 11-year agreement with the NFL will cost the company a reported $1 billion per year.

The analyst also called out the platform's highly-anticipated "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" series, which will roll out eight episodes beginning in early September.

According to Variety, Amazon plans to spend $465 million to produce the first season of the upcoming show. For context, Peter Jackson’s entire "Lord of the Rings" movie trilogy cost $281 million.

"Money is no object for Amazon," Ranganathan stated, adding the tech giant is "happy to be a loss leader" in streaming as it focuses on "the long game."

As the streamer looks to expand, a new report from The Wall Street Journal notes Amazon is meeting with top Hollywood movie executives to beef up its film division.

Amazon Studios has reportedly held conversations with Netflix's film head, Scott Stuber. The company also held discussions with former Paramount Pictures executive Emma Watts.

'Tech giants have nothing to lose'

Ranganathan reiterated that both Amazon's and Apple's entrance into the streaming wars "has made the competition so much more intense."

"The big risk for the established media companies is that they have a model that they have to prove to investors, and ensure that they are getting returns on investments."

"That becomes almost burdensome for them," the analyst explained.

Conversely, "tech giants have nothing to lose" due to other services "keeping people in their ecosystem."

Streaming is "more of an aggregator-slash-ecosystem play for a company like Amazon or Apple," she continued, emphasizing it as add-on service to increase the stickiness on the respective platform.

Cowen media analyst Doug Cruetz agreed, noting, "Amazon and Apple have a lot of businesses and a lot of people on their platform — the economics compared to other players are totally different."

He added, "If Apple loses money on its streaming product but fills a lot more iPhones, that's okay."

"Same with Amazon. It's fine losing money on video since streaming is really just a pure cost center to them because they're not monetizing it directly."

Chris Pratt stars in
Chris Pratt stars in "The Terminal List," streaming now on Amazon Prime Video

Still, Amazon has packed on the hits in recent months with season 3 of "The Boys" and Chris Pratt's newly released "The Terminal List" surging in popularity.

According to Nielsen, "The Terminal List" (despite weak critic reviews) racked up an impressive 1.6 billion minutes of streaming during the July 4 to July 10 viewing window, after premiering on July 1.

The military thriller came in second only behind "Stranger Things,'" which secured 4.8 billion minutes over that same time period.

Alexandra is a Senior Entertainment and Food Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193 and email her at alexandra.canal@yahoofinance.com

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