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UK video streaming subscribers topple pay-TV for the first time

July 18, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Popular online streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix are for the first time outshining traditional pay-TV in Britain.

Research from UK media regulator Ofcom reveals subscriptions to the UK’s top trio of streaming outlets — Netflix, NOW TV (Sky) and Amazon Prime — climbed to 15.4 million, while pay-TV fell short at 15.1 million subscriptions. Of the three services, Netflix is the most popular subscription video on-demand option, rising by 32 percent since 2017 to reach 9.1 million UK households by March 2018.

While the popularity of video on-demand (VoD) and subscription video on-demand (SVoD) services is on the rise, the revenue generated (£6.4 billion/$8.4 billion) by Pay-TV operators Sky UK, Virgin TV, BT TV and Talk Talk TV still exceeds that of online audiovisual revenue (£895 million/$1.2 billion) by a significant margin.

Increased uptake of smart TVs, cheaper plans, faster broadband speeds, and a desire to watch exclusive content are cited as common reasons why consumers are slowly turning away from both traditional pay-TV methods. The report also shows the amount of time people spend watching broadcast television has continued to tumble since 2012, and in 2017, fell to approximately three hours on average.

Within the 16-34 demographic, viewers are watching roughly the same amount of video content as all adults, however, less than half of that is broadcast content on TV. There’s no denying the allure of being able to binge-watch an original series in any place with accessible WiFi. But the report shows YouTube — with the versatility of music clips, instructional videos, vlogging and long-form content — is claiming the biggest slice of the viewing pie.

Although the combined amount of cash BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and ITV are pouring into new TV programs — £2.5 billion/$3.3 billion — has plunged to a 20 year low, Ofcom Chief Executive Sharon White is confident that UK broadcasters will adapt to compete. With more players making the shift towards video on-demand, Amazon scoring rights to stream Premier League games until 2022, and reports Amazon is planning to release a smart TV with Fire TV, it’ll be a tough market to thrive in.

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Amazon brings Whole Foods delivery to Chicago and four more cities

June 26, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Amazon’s Whole Foods delivery service still covers a relatively small area, but it’s seemingly growing by the moment. The internet giant has expanded the Prime-based grocery deliveries to Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and San Antonio, theoretically giving millions extra-quick access to produce, meat, everyday food and “select” alcohol. As before, delivery is available between 8AM and 10PM and shouldn’t cost extra if you’re ordering at least $35. You can spend $8 if you need your food within an hour.

The company promises ongoing expansion in the US throughout 2018.

The widened coverage comes mere hours after Amazon brought Prime discounts to all Whole Foods stores in the country. It suggests that the company is well on the way to completing its strategy: it’s taking advantage of Prime subscriptions and its delivery network to provide grocery options that aren’t always easy to match.

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Amazon expands Prime discounts to all Whole Foods stores this week

June 25, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Earlier this year, Amazon began offering Whole Foods discounts to Prime members and it has been expanding that program to more states over recent weeks. Today, the company announced that all Whole Foods and Whole Foods 365 stores will offer discounts for Prime members starting Wednesday. Amazon Prime subscribers will get an extra 10 percent off of sale items marked with a special yellow tag and larger discounts on certain products marked with a blue “Prime Member Deal” label.

The company says that since starting the program in May, Prime members have collectively saved millions of dollars. “Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive — in fact, Prime members have adopted this benefit at one of the fastest rates we’ve seen,” Prime VP Cem Sibay said in a statement.

Discounts are also applicable to Prime members who order groceries from Whole Foods through Prime Now. Currently, that two-hour delivery service is only available in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Richmond, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and Virginia Beach, but Amazon plans to expand the service to more cities throughout the year.

To use your Prime discounts at Whole Foods, you’ll need to download the Whole Foods app, sign in with your Amazon account and then scan the app’s Prime Code when you check out. Alternatively, you can also opt to use your phone number at checkout.

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All Amazon Prime members can now try clothes before they buy

June 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Amazon has been testing out a fee-free clothing-box service in the vein of Stitch Fix since last June. Prime Wardrobe allowed customer to try out selected clothing before buying; customers would only be charged for the items they kept. Until now, the service has been invite only, but today Amazon expanded its new feature to all Prime customers.

Prime Wardrobe items are limited to women’s, men’s, kids’ and baby clothing and accessories sold directly by Amazon.com. You can add anywhere between three and eight items to your box, and once you check out, your selections will arrive between three and eight business days (no free two-day shipping here, unfortunately). You have a week to try on the items and decide if you are keeping them without being charged. Once you decide what you want to keep, you can check out in Your Orders. Anything you keep, or that isn’t returned to Amazon, is charged to your credit card.

The big difference between Prime Wardrobe and Stitch Fix (and other style-box services) is that you choose what comes to your door, rather than letting a stylist pick out clothes for you. Additionally, there’s no fee to use it, unlike other services that charge you if you don’t keep a clothing item or accessory. Clearly, it’s been a hit with the smaller test pool, which is why Amazon is now expanding the service to all Prime customers.

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Amazon Prime is now available in Australia

June 18, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Amazon launched its Prime service in Australia today, giving most Australians access to free two-day shipping, Prime Video and a number of other perks. A subscription will cost AU$59 (approximately $44) per year — as opposed to the US price of $119 — a discounted rate that takes into account a smaller selection of goods and higher prices. Amazon just launched in the country last December.

Prime comes just ahead of a new policy that will prevent Australian customers from shopping on other countries’ Amazon sites. The country has instituted a new law that requires retailers to collect goods and services tax on products shipped to Australia from abroad. And in response, Amazon has chosen to restrict Australian residents to its Australian website starting July 1st.

Amazon’s Australian site has around 60 million products, far fewer than the US’ 500 million. With Prime, Australians will have access to approximately 4 million items sold on the US site that they won’t have to pay shipping for as long as orders total more than AU$49. Amazon says around 90 percent of Australians will have access to two-day delivery. You can see a full list of regions that qualify here and they include metro areas such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. Non-metro areas that don’t qualify for free two-day delivery will have access to an expedited three- to five-day delivery option for no additional charge.

Amazon is offering a free trial as well as a monthly payment option. Until the end of January, users can get Prime for AU$5 per month and after that the fee will increase to AU$7 per month.

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Amazon grabs streaming rights for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony

June 14, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Amazon Prime’s video-on-demand service just unlocked a musical milestone: it will be airing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony for the first time ever. HBO has been the Hall of Fame’s conventional broadcasting home, but from July 1st, devotees will be able to watch the event in over 30 countries and eight languages on any device supported by Amazon’s streaming service.

To celebrate the inauguration, Amazon Music has compiled a playlist which includes tracks from this year’s inductees: Bon Jovi, The Cars, Dire Straits, The Moody Blues and soul pioneer Nina Simone. 2018 marks the 33rd annual broadcast of the induction ceremony, which originally took place on April 14th at Cleveland’s Public Auditorium.

Amazon has been taking strides to diversify its programming as of late. Just last week, the company announced it had acquired the rights to stream the English Premier League starting in 2019. In addition to expanding its sporting coverage, Amazon also picked up Jordan Peele’s nazi-hunter series The Hunt and greenlit his docuseries on Lorena Bobbit.

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Amazon brings Prime discounts at Whole Foods to 10 more states

June 11, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Amazon’s marketing modus operandi is to convince everyone to sign up to its $119 annual Prime Membership, and it’s using that strategy to the max with its Whole Foods acquisition. The organic grocery chain is offering discounts to Prime members in ten more states, bringing the total to 23, nearly half the union. Henceforth, denizens of Arizona, Hawaii, and Washington and seven other states can get yellowfin tuna for $9 off per pound, or two Annie’s Natural Macaroni & Cheeses for the price of one, instead of paying full price like non-Prime rabble.

To get the deals, you go to a Whole Foods location in the designated states (or any Whole Foods 365 location), and look for the yellow discount stickers. Then, sign into the Whole Foods app using your Prime credentials, and when you go to checkout, the discount on those items will be applied.

Whole Foods shoppers with memberships can also get free shipping on their organic cornflakes and other goods for orders over $35 (in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco). Amazon Prime members also get free, same-day shipping on many goods (in select areas), on-demand Prime Video and Prime Music streaming, and free Kindle books.

Membership benefits seem to be worth it for most folks, as the company recently announced that it had 100 million Prime users. It also clearly benefits Amazon, which recently raised the prime membership price to $119 from $99, netting it an extra $2 billion per year or so and making the world’s richest man even richer.

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The Premier League is coming to UK Amazon Prime

June 7, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Amazon Prime Video will show live Premier League matches from 2019 in the UK. The technology giant has bought a football package that will give it exclusive TV — or in this case, streaming — rights for 20 games per season, from 2019/20 to 2021/22. These will be predominantly mid-week matches, rather than the more lucrative and expensive weekend fixtures. Earlier this year, the Premier League announced that it had sold five out of seven TV packages in the UK. BT bought one bundle, worth 32 games, while Sky secured four, representing 128 matches. Today, the league organiser confirmed that Amazon and BT have secured the final two TV packages.

Like Amazon, BT’s final TV package comes with 20 live games. That brings the broadcaster’s total to 52 fixtures per season — up from 42 under its current contract — from 2019/20. Volume, of course, isn’t everything. Broadcasters want the best games, featuring the most popular teams, to entice new subscribers. The packages sold in February are for weekend games, and come with a medley of first, second, third, fourth and fifth “picks.” The final two announced today, meanwhile, have no such system — Amazon and BT will simply be given a selection of mid-week fixtures to air.

For Amazon, though, it’s a start. Premier League TV rights are ludicrously expensive to secure — even one match package is no cheap investment. The fixtures will join the 37 ATP tennis events that Amazon acquired in November last year. That’s on top of the company’s documentary splurge, which includes plenty of American football and a still-in-development series on Manchester City FC. These, however, are in direct competition with Netflix, which has already produced its own premium soccer and American football series. Live sports, though, are a big differentiator from its streaming rival, and a big value-add for Prime Video in the UK.

And if you’re a football fan? It’s good news if you already own Prime, otherwise you’ll need three subscriptions to watch every Premier League match soon. No wonder so many are turning to piracy these days…

Tech News

Amazon makes Prime Pantry its latest monthly subscription option

June 1, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Amazon is making changes to how its Prime Pantry service is priced. Rather than the flat $5.99 fee per order for Prime members of yore, starting today it’ll cost you $4.99 each month for unlimited deliveries and free shipping on orders over $40. As Windows Central notes, if you aren’t a Prime member, the per-order fee is bumping up by $2, and that higher fee will apply to anyone (Prime Pantry members included) whose orders don’t meet the $40 minimum. What if you’re already an Amazon Fresh member? Nothing will change, from the sounds of it.

This is all well and good, but it does highlight Amazon’s motives of pushing another subscription on its customers to drive its profits. Whether you use Prime Pantry or not, if you’re signed up, you’re still paying for it. Or, if you use it a ton, you’re still paying Amazon for all those groceries. In so many words, Jeff Bezos stands to make money off you either way.