Amazon has redesigned Prime Video, bringing a new interface for connected living room devices compatible with Prime Video such as Fire TV, within its app, as well on the Android App. It will soon roll out the offering globally to Prime Video subscribers, followed by iOS and Web. The new redesign will be released this week and is created to make the interface more user friendly. For its living room apps, the navigation menu has been relocated to the side of the screen, and the app will launch with six primary pages customers can navigate through. These are Home, Store, Find, Live TV, Free with Ads, and My Stuff pages and sub navigation option for content or offer browsing, such as “Movies,” “TV shows” and “Sports” on Home, and “Channels” or “Rent or Buy” on Store.

According to Amazon, the new interface will also have a carousels presenting richer cinematic imagery, while allowing customers to pick content to steam in a fast and efficient way. Its “Super Carousel,” allows featured titles to stand out against other titles in a larger poster-styled artwork. It also incorporates a blue tick sign to indicate content provided in the paid subscription and a gold shopping bag sign for content available for purchase, rent or subscribe. 

The Home page will contain a Sports sub-navigation menu while the Live TV page will function as a hub for streaming stations, including live sports and events where customers can view everything that is currently on-air and find out when future programming will begin. The page will also feature sports documentaries and additional content such as replays and popular sports videos.  Thursday Night Football  will also exclusively play on Prime Video, as well as a variety of sports content available with a Prime membership and through subscriptions such as Paramount+ or MLB.TV.genres and collections.

The push on the sporting front comes shortly after the National Football League finalised a 11-year media rights agreement, that according to CNBC could be worth over US$100 billion. This marked the first time Amazon is set to carry an exclusive full package of the games. CNBC sources also said that the streaming platform is paying about US$1 billion per year.

Ease of use has always been an integral part of any user experience, said Kenneth Wong, digital CEO of Adminer and Trapper Interactive. He added that the revamp indicates Amazon’s realisation that in order to encourage viewers to spend more time on the platform, it needs to upgrade the user experience that’s purposefully designed to be “less busy or overwhelming for its users" as Amazon publicly puts it.

Nonetheless the platform has long lagged behind the competition when it comes to usability, said Wong. “There's no right or wrong reason to it (perhaps their primary focus was to focus on more 'original' production, or increase their content library) but in this case, it is better late than never,” he added.

With the new interface revamp, Wong added that audience retention is clearly a key goal in mind. According to a survey done by PWC, a great user experience is key to audience retention, and the ease of use of a streaming platform's interface often outweighs the quality of content it offered, highlighting the importance of a clean, intuitive user interface. Nearly 31% of PWC’s survey respondents also added that personalised content recommendations are a plus factor.

Nishant Kaushal, head of data, strategy and solutions, and founding partner of ADNA said as a viewer, in his eyes “Amazon Prime Video felt like the neglected child within the Amazon Prime family” given its outdated user interface (UI) filled with a maze of small tiles and a rather basic search function.

In Kaushal’s view, content is however still king when it comes to audience retention and growth of subscribers, and Netflix has been leading on the library size. However, Amazon recently closed its US$8.5 billion acquisition of MGM with its 4,000 films and 17,000 TV episodes which will expand Prime’s library size seven times bigger than that of Netflix’s.  “It’s likely that this UI revamp was done in preparation of that massive library expansion which the current out-dated interface is not able to handle. This would have frustrated its users even more and would have posed a major roadblock for users to discover and utilise the massive library," he said.

Additionally, according to ADNA’s research on SVODs (Subscription Video On Demand), value-for-money perception is often a key driver of brand selection in developing markets, including across most of SEA, Kaushal said. “Low or no subscription fee is already a major advantage for Amazon Prime Video and with its library expanding massively and interface that enables discovery and uplifts the UX, it’s likely to command excellent value perceptions, powering it ahead of its competitors and supercharge its future growth," he added.

Is Amazon Prime late to the game in Southeast Asia?

There is no question about Amazon Prime’s potential across SEA markets - especially with its decision to develop local original content from this year onwards, explained Wong.  In fact the streaming industry in Southeast Asia is set to flourish, with over 180 million consumers streaming eight billion hours of over-the-top (OTT) content per month across the region, a study from The Trade Desk found. The study surveyed usage and viewing habits on OTT platforms in Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and found that COVID-19 accelerated OTT adoption.

“With over 650 million population across SEA markets, we can’t see why a brand like Amazon would not be looking at its potential for growth. Many other Amazon services such as its cloud and business solutions are already available in SEA. Expanding its consumer businesses given is just likely a matter of time and readiness,” Wong added.

Meanwhile, Kaushal said that Amazon Prime Video is a major player in the global SVOD market and already has significant presence in Southeast Asia.  Research done by ADNA in the second quarter of the year uncovered that with 1,406 customers in Indonesia and 1,282 in Philippines, Amazon Prime Video has a sizable double-digit presence in both markets. Kaushal added that it is Indonesia’s third most used SVOD platform after Netflix and Disney+, while in Philippines it is the fourth in position after Netflix, iWantTFC (ABS-CBN) and iFlix. “It looks like it can grow much more from here and not just because Amazon bundles it with Prime membership,” he said.  

Ranganathan Somanathan, co-founder of consultancy RSquared Global Venture and former CEO of Omnicom Media Group Singapore added that with new distribution streams including  pay TV platforms, along with the penetration of connected TVs, more and more viewers are watching Amazon on large screens. As such the new design update is in keeping with the evolution in the user dynamics, not to mention the competitive pressure. However, Somanathan was of the view that Amazon Prime’s focus is in large audience markets, and that in Asia is in India.

“Amazon Prime has one of the largest content library globally. However, outside of India, its  regional content library is still lacking in width or depth in Asia. Amazon Prime’s growth in SEA will happen when the local content library kicks in. Till then, it will end up playing second or third fiddle to local content players,” he added.

Somanathan also added that for Amazon prime, sooner or later, Southeast Asia will be an important region to cover given the large population base in Indonesia.

“We’ve seen from Disney’s focus on the region as well, where Indonesia was one of its first markets to launch in the region. In addition to a large audience base, Indonesia also offers a very vibrant creative talent pool that could power the content creation and consumption in the region. For them to unlock the potential, Amazon Prime will need to bring in the focus with talent and investment in the region,” he added.

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