Amazon Tops Q1 Expectations, Bezos Touts More Than 175 Million Prime Video Viewers

Todd Spangler
·3-min read

Amazon knocked the cover off the ball again in the first quarter of 2021 — and released a new data point: More than 175 million Prime members have streamed TV shows and movies in the past year.

Founder Jeff Bezos revealed the new figure in announcing the Q1 results, adding that Prime Video streaming hours are up more than 70% year over year. He also noted that Amazon Studios received a record 12 Oscar nominations and two wins, and called out the performance of the company’s AWS cloud division, which now has a $54 billion annual sales run rate.

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“We love Prime Video and AWS, and we’re proud to have them in the family,” said Bezos, referring to the product groups as “two of our kids” who have turned 10 (Prime Video) and 15 years old (AWS).

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Bezos plans to step down as CEO in the third quarter of 2021 to become executive chairman. Amazon’s new chief exec will be Andy Jassy, currently CEO of Amazon Web Services.

While Amazon didn’t provide any further details on Prime Video usage, the announcement seemed to signal the company’s interest in showing it has scaled up streaming to be nearly in the same league as Netflix. As of the end of Q1, Netflix reported 207.4 million subscribers, after total net adds came in light for the period.

Amazon’s Twitch live-streaming service, meanwhile, now averages 35 million daily visitors, CFO Brian Olsavsky said on the earnings call.

In 2020, Amazon spent $11 billion on TV series, movies and music for Prime services last year, up about 40% from 2019. Last month, Amazon inked a 10-year deal with the NFL nabbing exclusive rights to “Thursday Night Football” starting in 2023, in a deal worth $1.32 billion per year, Sportico reported.

The e-commerce mammoth — which overall now has more than 200 million Prime members — reported revenue of $108.5 billion, up 44%, for the quarter ended March 31. Net income more than tripled, to $8.1 billion in the first quarter, or $15.79 per diluted share.

The overall sales surge shows that the COVID-fueled momentum continues for Amazon, as has been the case with other big tech companies like Google and Facebook. Wall Street analyst consensus estimates had pegged Amazon Q1 revenue coming in at $104.5 billion and earnings per share of $9.54.

Two weeks ago, Bezos announced that Amazon Prime has more than 200 million subscribers worldwide, in his final annual letter to shareholders as CEO. Prime is the ecommerce giant’s membership program that includes free shipping on millions of products, access to Prime Video and other perks.

This year’s Prime Day — Amazon’s annual shopping event — will take place in Q2, the company said. Assuming that happens, Amazon expects sales to increase 24%-30% compared with the year-earlier period. Operating income in Q2 is projected to be hit with $1.5 billion of costs related to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Amazon yesterday announced pay raises for more than 500,000 employees on its fulfillment and delivery teams, who will get bumps of 50 cents to $3 per hour. (The ecommerce giant adopted a $15/hour minimum wage policy in 2018.) The increases, rolling out in Q2, will translate into $1 billion in incremental costs. That comes just a few weeks after a union organization effort by workers at its Bessemer, Ala., fulfillment center failed to pass. Amazon directly employs some 1.3 million people worldwide.

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