Amazon has been hard at work, solidifying contracts with television and movie distribution companies to become a viable competitor in the video streaming market. Only a month ago, the company sent out a press release that it had confirmed a licensing deal with Discovery Communications to add various Discovery Channel shows to Amazon Prime’s list of available shows. In their press announcements, Amazon boasts upwards of 17,000 titles available for free to Prime members.
It turns out that that number is a little fudged, depending on how you define the word “titles.”
Fast Company recently exposed Amazon’s marketing tactics by clarifying for us what the online retail giant considers a title to be. Apparently, Amazon counts individual episodes of television shows as one title, creating an inflated estimate of just how much they have to offer to Prime members.
According to Fast Company’s investigation, Amazon Prime members who pay the premium price of $79 per year are being told that they can choose from 17,000 titles, when actually it is more like 1,745 movies and 150 TV series. The “17,000″ figure is not only misleading to consumers, but a faulty indicator of Amazon’s streaming library’s strength versus competitors and traditional entertainment offerings,” writes Fast Company’s Austin Carr.
An example of just how egregious this misrepresentation is: The entire Power Rangers series of television shows are counted individually as 715 different title, which represents 4.2 percent of Amazon’s offerings. Fast Company calculates that the average number of times a single television series is counted toward Amazon Prime’s library is about 100.
Most of the inflated boasting is due to media regurgitation of the overestimated number of titles through press releases. Amazon does not have any mention of 17,000 titles on their website. The company vaguely mentions “thousands” of title, which is accurate. While one may say that Amazon is not participating in false advertising because they don’t make those claims on their website, the company’s press announcements, which do include that specific wording, is spread like wildfire across hundreds of media outlets. This marketing tactic is more invasive than simply posting the numbers on their website. Amazon has also been known to send direct emails to customers, not just media writers, which boast the exaggerated numbers.
Amazon may or may not continue to count individual episodes as separate titles in future press releases. But if they do you can be sure that, thanks to Fast Company, we’ll all be a lot more skeptical of the numbers, for other companies, too.