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Amazon Prime goes on sale Saturday

January 22, 2015 04:30 PM
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For 27 hours only this weekend, Amazon.com Inc. will offer its Prime shipping and loyalty program for $72, a discount of $27 off the usual $99 price.

Amazon, No. 1 in the 2014 Internet Retailer Top 500, announced the offer today, tying it to a promotion of its original TV series “Transparent,” which recently won two Golden Globe awards, and the upcoming 72nd edition of the Academy Awards, which will be presented Feb. 22.

Amazon will make all 10 episodes of “Transparent” available for free on Saturday, instead of limiting it to members of Amazon Prime who gain access to streaming of Amazon Instant Video TV shows and movies, as well as free, two-day shipping for a year. The series features Jeffrey Tambor as a transgender man. He won the Golden Globe award Jan. 11 for best actor in a musical comedy, and the show, directed by Jill Soloway, won the top award in that category.

“We’re incredibly proud of everyone involved in the making of Transparent—the team took a risk and it paid off,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says in a statement. “Big kudos and congrats to Jill, Jeffrey, and all the cast and crew.”

Amazon says consumers who are not Prime members will be able to sign up for a year of the service for $72 starting Saturday at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time and ending at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time, making it a 27-hour sale. They can sign up at Amazon.com/TransparentPrime; today that page offers a free 30-day trial of Prime.

The promotion aims to boost membership in Prime, currently estimated at between 30 million and 40 million U.S. online shoppers by RBC Capital analyst Mark Mahaney, and 40 million to 50 million worldwide. Amazon has only said there are more than 20 million Prime members worldwide. An RBC survey last year found 37% of 4,000 consumers surveyed were members of Prime. Mahaney estimates a Prime member spends 2.3 times more with Amazon than someone who does not belong to the program.

Amazon raised the annual fee for Prime from $79 to $99 last year, and has been trying to make the service more attractive by offering more original and licensed content. That includes original TV series such as “Transparent” and “Alpha House,” and the e-retailer’s recent announcement that it had hired famed film director Woody Allen to do a TV series that will stream on Prime Instant Video. Amazon quickly followed that up by announcing it will start producing feature films that it will make available to Amazon Prime members within eight weeks of their opening in theaters, much faster than movies typically make it to TV screens.

Amazon’s investments in streaming video are paying off, according to a study last fall by Sandvine, which tracks Internet data traffic. Sandvine said Amazon Prime Instant Video was the second-largest streaming video service in North America, accounting for 2.6% of Internet traffic to end users. But it was well behind rival Netflix Inc., which accounted for 34.9% of data traffic during peak evening hours, Sandvine said.

 

 

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