Amazon Prime Instant Video
In the middle of a Black Friday-Cyber Monday e-tailing blitz, Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) is looking to sell more Prime memberships as well. The online retailer is letting its customers purchase gift subscriptions to its Amazon Prime membership, which includes access to its Prime Instant Video library. The move will allow holiday shoppers to send Prime subscriptions as gifts to friends and family--the essence of viral marketing.
Separately, through Saturday, Nov. 30, Prime members can take advantage of a kid-themed tie-in promotion: According to CNET, Amazon in partnership with Viacom (NYSE: VIA) has launched three Nickelodeon channel-themed shops offering discounted products related to Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When Prime members purchase these products they'll also be able to download one episode of each of the series for free.
"It's the clearest link Amazon has ever made between the e-commerce and instant video elements of its Prime service," CNET's Joan Solsman wrote. It's also a swipe at Netflix, CNET posited, which earlier this year passed on renewing its licensing deal with Viacom. "(T)he free, downloadable episodes will drive home to parents that the Nickelodeon characters that their kids love enough to put on their Christmas lists are available online at Amazon rather than Netflix."
Amazon is also rumored to be talking to media companies and app developers about contributing software and content to a streaming media set-top box that could be introduced during this holiday season. It's unclear whether this rumor is true, but the possibility of Amazon entering the equipment space could put pressure on established vendors like Roku.
Hulu geared up for Thanksgiving week with its Hulu for the Holidays promotion, which launched Nov. 22 and includes a daily sweepstakes that offers prizes from a 55-inch Samsung TV to an Xbox One or monthly subscriptions to Hulu Plus. The promotion launched the same day that Microsoft's Xbox One hit the shelves, and Hulu designed an interface specifically for Xbox One users.
As it struggles to gain market share and audience, Hulu is reworking its strategy and trying to create partnerships with cable companies in a move that will likely make it a feature of pay-TV providers rather than a standalone service. Post-holiday Hulu may enter an interesting place.
Still a brand-new entrant to the online video realm, Target Ticket initiated a promotion in October offering 10 free downloads of select movies to new subscribers who link an Ultraviolet account to their Target Ticket account. The "family-friendly" service, which is available on Roku, Xbox, Blu-Ray players and Samsung televisions, launched in late September.
Netflix has not made any holiday promotional announcements yet, but fans of Lillyhammer will get an early Christmas present on Dec. 13 with the debut of the series' long-awaited second season. The dominant online video provider also recently launched a new interface and updated its recommendation engine.