Amazon Eyes OTT Live – Report

Throw spaghetti at the wall and something's bound to stick. That seems to be the prevailing viewpoint in the video sector right now, and it looks like Amazon is buying into the notion.

Frost and Sullivan analyst Dan Rayburn is reporting that several content owners have told him that Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) has been asking around about licensing content for a possible new live streaming service. No one was willing to go on the record, and no one could confirm how far along Amazon might be in planning a new service. However, as Rayburn points out, the possibility that the company could be serious about its investigation is made more intriguing by the fact that Amazon recently purchased Elemental Technologies Inc. (ETI) , which has its own platform for processing and packaging live linear streams. (See Amazon Acquires Elemental for AWS.)

If Amazon were to introduce a new live linear service, it would join a raft of other companies offering live streaming content. Among them, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is promising live concerts and sporting events on its Go90 service, most of the content for Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH)'s Sling TV is live, and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s upcoming Stream service will offer live linear programming from the major broadcast networks.

More interestingly, Amazon would expand its role as one of the few "Goliath" companies with a stake in video processing, video delivery, content development (Amazon has its own original programming) and consumer video services. It's a type of vertical integration also practiced by Comcast and Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), to give two major examples. And it's increasingly representative of an industry that's consolidating across the domains of content production and management and content delivery. Even for those companies that aren't in the programming business -- such as Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE), Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) -- there is growing pressure to scale beyond a single function and control a larger portion of the end-to-end video chain. (See IP Video Services Explode at IBC.)

Want to know more about the impact of web services on the pay-TV sector? Check out our dedicated OTT services content channel here on Light Reading.

At a time when there is ever more interest in on-demand services, it's also worth considering why Amazon is investing in live video streaming. The most compelling (and lucrative) live video is sports. Rayburn confirms that some of his sources are broadcasters who own sports content, but he has no specific information on the type of content Amazon may be seeking. If sports is on the agenda, it could be a game changer for OTT video. (See also Are Sports Next for Netflix?)

Last but not least, Amazon has also put itself in a position to be a catalyst for 4K Ultra HD TV. Having already introduced the 4K Fire TV and made select 4K content available through its Prime Video service, Amazon could distinguish itself further by showcasing live 4K content.

It's a far cry from reporting on rumors to making Amazon the front-runner for live UHD TV. But Amazon is in a position to make bold moves, and the progression is logical if still speculative.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

mhhf1ve 10/12/2015 | 4:37:41 PM
Is this about Twitch? Live streaming gaming will be the future of live sports events... maybe. Why watch real humans get brain injuries when you can watch a virtual fight to the death? 
Phil_Britt 10/11/2015 | 4:08:25 PM
Could be the 800-pound gorilla If Amazon gets in, small players, and even some larger ones are likely to get squahed. Amazon enters a number of lines of business without worrying about making a profit. Amazon has enough income from other lines to be successful with such a strategy. Other companies are not profitable enough in other lines to compete successfully when Amazon gets involved.
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