Amazon Studios Marketing Chief Offers Glimpse of Streaming Strategy at SXSW

March 11, 2019

By Carlo Versano

Diverse offerings that are broadly accessible to a global audience.

That's the programming strategy for Amazon's studio arm in a nutshell as it attempts to stand out in an increasingly crowded streaming field, according to an interview with Amazon Studios' marketing chief Mike Benson at SXSW in Austin.

Benson was at the festival to promote the latest Amazon ($AMZN) Original, a new end-of-the-world comedy series called "Good Omens" that features a star-studded cast, including Benedict Cumberbatch and Frances McDormand.

With Netflix ($NFLX), Hulu, and now Apple all spending big on new content ー and new streaming platforms in the works from WarnerMedia ($T), Disney ($DIS) and NBC ($CMCSA) ー the competition for eyeballs is about to get even more cutthroat. But Amazon Studios has one thing those others don't.

"What makes us different is Prime," Benson told Cheddar.

As opposed to pure streaming plays that have to coax customers solely on the strength of their content, Amazon's streaming service is a value-add for its 100 million-plus Prime members, according to Benson. But the content still has to be compelling. Viewers must want to watch and ー even more crucially now ー want to talk about shows they see on Amazon. Streaming pioneers like Netflix long ago realized that world of mouth is critical, particularly on social media, when there's a plethora of content in the market.

For Benson, his job is complicated by the fact that millions of Amazon Prime members still don't even know they have access to original content with their membership. And it's why the e-commerce giant is investing billions in shows that are broadly attractive, rather than niche programming that may be more appealing to an HBO or Showtime audience.

Shows like "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," "Jack Ryan," and ー Benson hopes ー "Good Omens" are "shows that a lot of people can watch and a lot of people can love."

For full interview click here.