Tobold's Blog
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Amazon Prime Video now 900% more coverage

The video streaming business must be the weirdest failure of capitalism. No other business is so inherently suited to globalisation, because anyone, anywhere with a broadband internet connection can theoretically be a customer. And no other business fails so dismally to live up to that promise of globalisation. If you live in the USA you are up to your eyeballs in offers of video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO, and lots of others. If you live in Belgium most of these services refuse to sell to you, and actually have security measures in place to prevent you to sign up with a fake address or something.

Last year Netflix went global, although local regional content is much more limited than what is on offer in the USA. Today Amazon Prime Video went global, and expanded its coverage from the 19 countries which have a local Amazon site to 200 countries, that is pretty much everywhere except China. That is especially nice for Belgium, because while I could freely buy films on DVD from the three neighboring country Amazon sites without regional restriction, and when I searched for a film or TV show the Amazon video offer was displayed, I was then unable to access the videos previously. Today I was able to sign up for Amazon Prime and get access.

I don't know yet how the number of films and TV shows on Amazon Prime Video compares to Netflix, especially since the catalog on Amazon is a limited, local one, just like Netflix's. However Amazon Prime is cheaper than Netflix and is bundled with other services like fast free shipping, cloud storage for photos, and free Kindle eBooks. The user interface of Amazon Prime Video is a carbon copy of the Netflix UI. And both now have the ability to download videos and watch them when you don't have access to internet.

Previously I could have signed up for Amazon Prime, but would have only received the other services like the free shipping, and not the video. The added video streaming service, and especially The Grand Tour (the spiritual successor of Top Gear) now made me sign up for Amazon Prime. As I am a frequent customer of physical goods on Amazon, I'm nearly certain that the service is going to pay for itself, with the free shipping alone being worth the fee. So I don't mind being now subscribed to both Netflix and Amazon Prime.

I will have to see how the offer on the two services evolves over time. The Netflix video streaming business is the main business of Netflix. Amazon video is a minor part of Amazon. They can offer me more videos for cheaper, because they can count on me buying stuff on Amazon more often with the bundled free shipping. But both Amazon and Netflix still suffer from not having the right to show all of their content globally. We will see which one of them overcomes that restriction.

You weren't missing anything. I took Amazon Prime's 30 day free offer last year and it expired without me having used it for anything at all apart from one free delivery. I wasted an hour of my life scrolling their dismal, depressing list of movies and tv shows, where I failed to find anything I was even mildly curious to see.

I went back to YouTube, where the variety and depth is beyond human capacity to explore, much less exhaust.
I have Amazon Prime and Netflix and in the UK I'd say that the TV series offering on Netflix are much better.

Prime also seems to do a lot of annoying things like putting series on for limited amounts of time then taking them off prime but offering them to rent, or only offering some series for free but making you pay for the rest. Annoying for an adult but try explaining to a 3 year old why they can't watch their favourite show despite it being there because it's not free any more.

The reason we keep prime is that all the other perks that come with the membership make it up - prime music is not as good as spotify, but still nice, twitch prime is cool, free next day deliveries. The individual bits aren't worth it on their own but as a package the value is amazing.
The globalization works both ways. If it were unrestricted, I, here in the US, could just set up an account in the Congo for 500 Congolese Francs a month (51 cents US.) and rip them off for whatever the difference in the pricing is.
Sure, you can now watch in Belgium... without Dutch subtitles. This immediately makes this service unusable for the majority of the Flemish.

Also no chromecast support so can't watch it on my tv.

It's interlocking copyright and contracts that makes it so hard I suspect.

Some company in Europe has the rights to distribute Film X in France and the Netherlands, another has rights in West Germany but not East Germany because the contract was signed in 1988. Stuff like that.

I suspect in light of your recent posts on liberalism, that you feel that globalization is the end game in terms of prosperity, progress and peace. However, the globalization process has not only perpetuated, if not heightened, inequity in relations between countries. Do you not believe that globalization has overwhelmed western societies, both politically and technically? I think the left continues to confuse globalization with neo-liberalism to the point they become drunk and unable to see the real end game - which allows multinational companies to have undue influence in setting political agendas on the international stage.

How else do you think that Netflix or Amazon will be able to secure global rights to all of their newly licensed content? One has to realize that in a global information economy, intellectual property become the "real property" and is only traded after a host of transnational copyright legislation, agreements and enforcement measures are agreed upon. At this point the state is placed into the role of copyright regulation and management. All of this is occurring in an age where liberal doctrine states that fair use claims are, at best, inherently uncertain.
@globalization: I dream of a world where my passport says "Erthling" instead of "German". More trade going on means less war. Just look at the European Union, we are intertwined so much that the risk of one EU member attacking the other is practically zero. Imagine that on a global scale. It is doable, we (humanity) just have to get our act together and set up rules that benefit everyone instead of working against each other, nation vs nation.
Do you not believe that globalization has overwhelmed western societies, both politically and technically?

Your false premise in explicit in your question, as you only talk about western societies. I am old enough to remember a time where half of earth's population was living on less than $1 a day. Today that number is down to around 10%. Globalization has lifted billions of people out of absolute poverty, even if many of them are still poor on a relative scale.

The problem for western societies is that globalization is an equalizing force, which makes poor countries richer and rich countries poorer. And the gains in rich countries aren't well distributed but go to the top 1% of people, the ones able to benefit from global mobility of capital. And that is why today there is so much backlash against globalization in western societies, because the 1% aren't a majority and the billions of winners from globalization live elsewhere and don't have the right to vote.
"I am old enough to remember a time where half of earth's population was living on less than $1 a day. Today that number is down to around 10%. Globalization has lifted billions of people out of absolute poverty, even if many of them are still poor on a relative scale."

I don't think this is accurate.

First, the value of (1 dollar a day) is relative, and based on a factor not relevant to the people referenced. Case in point: Rural Indians make about 200 Rupees a day, or about 3 USD. But how much of that "value" is US side inflation? Is the general life of a rural Indian 3 times better than when it was "one dollar a day?" I don't think so.

Next, let's look at urban slums. In third world countries, these are exploding. In Africa, 60% of urban dwellers live in them. Why? Because Globalization has destroyed their ability to earn a living in agriculture. They have no choice but to move to urban slums and try to survive there.

We are NOT helping these countries with "Globalization."

It sounds to me that you have well arrived in the Trumpian world of post-fact politics, where facts and data compiled by large independent institutions are worth less than your gut feeling about how people you never met are living.
I don't think it's fair to say that people who doubt globilisation is the way forward, and have examples of the serious downsides of it, live in a bubble. There are many many examples well known, some of which I have seen first hand working in developing countries. If you want I can give you some examples, but perhaps you are more comfortable in your own liberal free market bubble?
Nobody said anyone is living in a bubble. My claim never was that "globalisation solved poverty", or "globalisation doesn't have problems". But what you guys are doing is putting "Oh, I know some examples" at the same level as year-long studies by large anti-poverty NGOs. Can anyone doubt that a billion Chinese people are better off today, largely due to globalisation, than they were a quarter of a century ago? What about the positive economic effects of mobile phones and payment systems running on those phones on Africa?

You just can't have a system which makes billions of people better off without having some "examples" of people being less well off. What counts in the end is the overall improvement for the largest possible number of people.

Yes, hundreds of millions of people have a better standard of living than 25 years ago, but this isn't about just economics, it's about the effects that globalization is having across the planet in spite of this one-sided view of the puppet-string economics that are involved. Even the financial experts, while being largely ignored, are saying that the rate at which globalization is occurring, cannot continue due to scarcity.

Mayors(and their counterparts) across the world are yielding and exercising more power in attempts to prevent the transnational companies from using nation-state agreements in monopolizing resources at the local level. We are seeing Nation-states across the globe morph into region-states with new and unlimited power as globalization places unrealistic burdens on already overtaxed resources. At some point, zero-sum competition for these resources is going to start occurring between states, which will most definitely wipe out any gains above poverty and will no-doubt increase the chances of regional conflict - or worse. Hell, even the World Bank is predicting that food demand will increase 50% by 2030, and 100% more by 2050, and that just "one" bad year in food production will see tens of millions suffer from undernourishment - all of this in spite of advances in bio-fuels or green initiatives.
'But what you guys are doing is putting "Oh, I know some examples" at the same level as year-long studies by large anti-poverty NGOs."

You are assuming that these NGOs are not corporate entities that are trying to make money, not help people. They BUY science in the form of studies. Wait. They ARE corporate entities, and they almost certainly do buy science.

Science is EASY TO BUY. You just hire scientists to find the results you want and then publish the results. Easy Peasy. It happens all the time.

Do you honestly think companies like Monsanto are using honest, swear to god, peer reviewed science? No! They pay people to get the results they want, and no one is paying other scientists to peer review it.
How on god's earth would an evil company make money by paying scientists to fake global poverty data? Your paranoia is astounding.
"How on god's earth would an evil company make money by paying scientists to fake global poverty data? Your paranoia is astounding."

You're kidding, right? "Look! It's working! This study proves it! That's why we need more gov. grants to continue our good work!"

Do you seriously think, with what we know about things like Phillip Morris defending smoking that there NO CORPORATIONS so morally bankrupt as to do this? And the kicker, of course... if one gets away with it (And who the hell is going to pay to peer review their research?) the rest have to do it too to be competitive.

Paranoia and skepticism are good traits to have. You should be skeptical of your echo chamber just as I should (And am) of mine. Humans are NOT an enlightened species, we are easily taken advantage of and treated like "Useful Idiots."
What big corporation gets government grants to fight global poverty? And how did they manage to fake all those big cities in China that sprung up over the last 20 years? Do you honestly not believe that hundreds of millions of Chinese people didn't profit from globalization?
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