In his final annual letter to shareholders as Amazon chief executive, Jeff Bezos reported that the company now has more than 200 million subscribers to its Amazon Prime service. That is up from 150 million in January 2020 and 100 million in April 2018. That makes Amazon Prime Video one of the most widely available subscription video services in the world.
Netflix had over 203 million worldwide subscribers at the end of 2020, and Disney+ passed the 100 million mark in March 2021.
It might be objected that the number of Amazon Prime members is not directly comparable because access to online video is only one of the benefits of membership.
Amazon Prime membership offers unlimited free delivery on over 100 million items, as well as unlimited access to online video including movies, television programmes and original Amazon productions.
Amazon rarely releases member metrics and does not break out members by country or region or details of video viewership.
In the United States, membership of Amazon Prime costs $119 per year or $12.99 per month, plus taxes.
Subscription services accounted for $25.2 billion in net sales, up from $19.2 billion the previous year. That includes Amazon Prime memberships, plus other music, audiobook and e-book services.
Total net sales for Amazon amounted to $386 billion, up 38% from $280 billion the previous year. Amazon makes over 60% of its net sales on products and services in North America
The AWS computing platform accounted for $45.4 billion in net sales, up from $35.0 billion.
Total operating income for the year was $22.9 billion, of which $13.5 billion was from AWS.
The total video and music expenses were $11.0 billion, up from $7.8 billion the previous year. That includes licensing and production costs associated with content offered within Amazon Prime memberships and costs associated with digital subscriptions and sold or rented content.
Amazon added half a million part-time or full-time workers in 2020, taking its total workforce to 1.3 million people.
Jeff Bezos will be moving to executive chairman later in the year, to be succeeded as chief executive by Andy Jassy, who leads Amazon Web Services.
Online video is still a sideline for Amazon, while it is everything for Netflix. Access to media makes Amazon Prime membership stickier, meaning that subscribers are more likely to buy other products or services.
A sideline for Amazon means it can afford to spend a reported $465 million on shooting the first season of The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand.