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Amazon Prime hits 200 million subscribers

Amazon now has more than 200 million subscribers to its Amazon Prime service, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote in his annual letter to shareholders Thursday.

Amazon Prime Video programming is included in the larger Prime subscription, making it one of the most widely available premium streaming services in the world. Prime passed 150 million subscribers in January 2020.

For comparison, Netflix had about 204 million worldwide subscribers at the end of 2020, with Disney+ now above 100 million. Of course, not every Amazon Prime member watches the company’s video content, which includes series like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and films like Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

The annual letter will also be Bezos’ last, as he shifts to a new executive chairman role later this year. Andy Jassy, who leads Amazon Web Services, will take over as CEO of the tech giant. Bezos addressed the CEO transition at the end of his letter, writing that “It’s a hard job with a lot of responsibility.”

“Andy is brilliant and has the highest of high standards. I guarantee you that Andy won’t let the universe make us typical. He will muster the energy needed to keep alive in us what makes us special,” Bezos wrote. “That won’t be easy, but it is critical. I also predict it will be satisfying and oftentimes fun.”

The letter served as something of a capstone for Bezos, who also outlined his efforts to fight climate change and addressed the treatment of workers at Amazon warehouses. In fact, Bezos suggested that those will be key areas of focus in his new role.

“In my upcoming role as executive chair, I’m going to focus on new initiatives. I’m an inventor. It’s what I enjoy the most and what I do best. It’s where I create the most value,” Bezos wrote. “I’m excited to work alongside the large team of passionate people we have in Ops and help invent in this arena of Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work.”

Alongside Bezos’ letter, Amazon released its 2020 annual report, which detailed its finances for the past year.

Of interest to Hollywood: Amazon says it spent $11 billion on video and music content in 2020, up from $7.8 billion in 2019. That includes content for Amazon Prime Video, as well as royalties from Amazon Music. Still, this stark rise tracks with the company’s increased video output, with sequels to Coming to America and Borat being released in recent months, and the number of original series and overall deals rising. Hollywood Reporter

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