Cord Cutters Rejoice
Amazon Video Subscriptions Launch
There is no other streaming video service that offers customers the breadth & quality of selection and the ease of access across popular devices & platforms that Amazon Video provides. First came hundreds of thousands of videos to rent or buy, including new release movies and day after broadcast TV episodes. Then Amazon Video pioneered online streaming video with their Prime Video service, making tens of thousands of movies and TV shows available at no cost to Amazon Prime members. So, late in 2015, it was no surprise when Amazon Video took cord-cutting efforts one big step forward with an initiative to offer 3rd-party video subscriptions to customers.
With 30+ Add-on Subscription channels available at launch, Prime members would have access to more of their favorite movies and TV shows than every before; all with the convenience, reliability and flexibility of Amazon Video and supported by Amazon’s award-winning customer service. The launch of a streaming subscription service of this size had never been attempted before, and would result in the largest organization-wide initiative for Amazon Video to date.
To accommodate the addition of these new channels, we had to map-out and design a more flexible service-wide framework that would scale across all existing Amazon Video products, platforms and client apps. A thourough vetting of all user journeys was conducted and countless patterns and permutations explored and tested, enabling Amazon Video to successfully launch the new Add-on Subscription service with 30+ partners, while laying the foundation to efficiently onboard hundreds more add-on channels in the future.
As leader of cross-platform design efforts for this project, my core areas of responsibility were three-fold: 1) Oversee cross-platform UX efforts, making sure that business objectives were met and optimal customer experience delivered across all platforms and client apps; 2) Focus on end-to-end customer journey from awareness and acquisition through to ongoing engagement of subscription content; 3) QA and launch optimization, from identifying/fixing product gaps and customer issues to strategic marketing initiatives.
Standing out from the crowd is about providing something no one else offers. For Amazon Video that was offering cord cutters traditional cable channels without the obligation of expensive long-term contracts. But with additional viewing options comes a level of complexity unmatched by other streaming services. So, when Add-on Subscriptions—30+ ad-free channels such as STARZ, SHOWTIME, and more—was released as the latest offer type in late 2015, we needed to rethink how channel content was surfaced and categorized for customers. This effort included a broad evaluation and update of the existing Amazon Video service to accommodate for customers to browse, sign up for and stream movies and TV shows available on dozens of content channels.
The launch of 3rd-party subscriptions on Amazon Video included premium cable channels such as SHOWTIME and STARZ, as well as a variety based on particular areas of interest—including Acorn TV for world-class British television, Tribeca Shortlist for award-winning & independent films, plus much more. The signup process was optimized for simplicity, allowing Prime members to quickly signup and begin streaming immediately, with the option to cancel at anytime without any longterm commitment. If a customer isn’t already a Prime member, they can sign up for a 30-day free trial of Prime at the same time.
The addition of 3rd party subscriptions brought thousands of new movies and TV shows to Amazon Video customers. But, in a service that already offers hundreds of thousands of movies and TV episodes included with Prime and available to rent or buy, finding the right content that fits a customer’s needs or special area of interest can be challenging, which is why we created numerous way-finding devices. Customers can discover premium subscription content either by browsing branded carousels, dive deep into the collection page for each premium subscription channel, or discover new and interesting titles & channels through merchandising found across the Amazon Video service.
At launch, we positioned the product as a premium Add-on Subscription allowing existing and new Prime members to customize/enhance their video watching experience all for a great price and accessible from a single app, with no cable or satellite subscription required. We emphasized that it includes same-day streaming, with new episodes available the moment of premiere, plus a variety of content customers can enjoy with selection growing every month. We included the value of getting world-class Amazon customer service support, with the convenience of being able to cancel their monthly subscriptions easily and anytime. Post launch we continued to test these and other marketing channels able to provide traction as we continued to grow the subscription channels business.
The launch of 3P video subscriptions dramatically scaled the selection of movies and TV available on Amazon Video, while also solving for genres and experiences that are significantly underrepresented by streaming services today. Customer demand was larger than expected and Amazon Video continues to bring more 3P partner channels onto the program.
Key service updates:
- Integration of Add-on Subscriptions offer type across service taxonomy and navigation
- The addition of thousands of ad-free TV shows, movies, documentaries and more
- Free trial sign-up, affordable monthly subscriptions and hassle-free online cancellation
- Greater subscription selection with simplified content discovery, and better recommendations
- Availability across all platforms and hundreds of devices through one service
We also launched 16 live streaming channels on the web for SHOWTIME and STARZ, and built a live acquisition and distribution platform we will leverage to deliver more live video options in 2016. And, we created a new “Manage Your Video Subscriptions” page where customers can easily cancel and restart their video subscriptions with zero friction.
In the News
The launch was covered by approximately 100 original stories and hundreds of additional reposts:
“Ordering up TV channels a la carte has long been the dream of cable cord-cutters. Now that dream is closer to coming true thanks to Amazon.” – WIRED, Davey Alba
“While Netflix seems to be trying to build itself into a super-sized version of HBO, Amazon’s play is to make itself into a content hub that can integrate many other over-the-top streaming services into itself.” – Business Insider, Nathan McAlone
“Right now, people — like myself — who choose streaming services over traditional cable packages have to deal with separate accounts and apps for every channel they want to watch. But if Amazon’s marketplace gains traction, I can imagine a day when the Amazon Video app is the only one I would need for all my late night binging sessions.” – Jacob Demmitt, GeekWire
“Here’s the latest hammer blow at the pay TV bundle, and an interesting add-on to Amazon’s video offerings for customers who pay $99 a year for its Prime service: Its new Streaming Partners Program is designed to make it simple for members to pay a monthly fee to see programs from Showtime, Starz, and other premium services.” – David Lieberman, Deadline
Creative Direction & Cross Platform UX Leadership