Netflix and Amazon are planning to spend a lot on content in 2017, and it could mean the two SVOD rivals will use their deep pockets to lure away shows and films from other platforms.
Netflix said it plans to spend $6 billion this year on content, and Amazon plans to double its content budget and triple it in the second half of 2017. That means the two have the kind of buying muscle they can flex on programmers and fellow subscription video on demand providers.
Last week, Netflix snatched away Jerry Seinfeld’s "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" from Crackle as part of a $100 million deal for the series plus two standup specials. In addition to new episodes of the series, which features Seinfeld conducting interviews in classic automobiles, Netflix is getting all the previous episodes.
The loss of a fairly high-profile series likely will put a dent in Crackle's momentum. But Crackle general manager Eric Berger last week told Adweek that he’s still very optimistic about Crackle’s upcoming programming.
"We have a development slate that we feel can rival any ad-supported network," Berger told Adweek.
Berger went on to tell Adweek that "Comedians" was actually not the most popular show on the service—with that title now going to "StartUp"—and that Crackle still attracts a monthly U.S. audience of 18 million.
But "Comedians" was still a popular show for Crackle and it’s highly likely the AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) provider did not want to lose it.
Meanwhile, Amazon and Netflix have been busy snapping up movie rights at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. While both SVODs have been able to find noteworthy film distribution deals at Sundance, Amazon is likely particularly enthusiastic about the festival after Manchester by the Sea, a film it acquired at last year’s Sundance, went on to score a best picture nomination from the Oscars.
Amazon even put its Film Festival Stars program in place before Sundance, giving cash bonuses and increased royalty rates to films that signed on for 24-month streaming deals with Amazon.
In addition to grabbing shows away from other OTT providers and going strong for film rights, Netflix is pursuing nonscripted shows as a way of keeping up its content pace while not breaking the bank.
In a new report following this year’s NATPE conference, analyst firm MoffettNathanson said Netflix might start outbidding cable networks for the rights to reality shows.
“Concurrently, SVOD players have started to show interest in buying non-fiction content which could start to put pressure on the bigger non-fiction cable networks. Netflix has continuously emphasized increasing original content. However, given the high cost of scripted originals, Netflix will need to incorporate more unscripted content in these efforts. As a result, Netflix (and the other SVOD players) will start to bid away name brand non-fiction shows from cable networks,” MoffettNathanson wrote in a research report.
While live sports and news programming could still be out of the reach of Amazon and Netflix, it’s starting to look like the two SVODs have the funding to go after almost any content they want.