Of the eight movies and TV shows featured in Netflix’s new commercial, all but two—Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead—are also available on Amazon Prime Instant Video.
This important point was identified by BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield in a research note (registration required) published this morning. “We wonder whether consumers, let alone Amazon Prime subscribers, even realize that this content is available on Amazon Prime,” he writes.
It comes at a time when the debate about the limitations of Netflix’s video library is on the verge of becoming a cultural phenomenon. Even The Onion has latched onto it.
But Netflix seems to be aware of it: The ad is promoting content that appeals to mainstream audiences (Greenfield describes them as the “Wal-Mart shopper”) rather than its exclusive shows, like House of Cards, which appeal to niche audiences.
It raises a conundrum that only Netflix CEO Reed Hastings himself can probably answer: With more than 30 million subscribers, Netflix is now the fifth biggest TV channel in America. While original content is increasingly what makes the service worth paying for, it doesn’t necessarily appeal to people who haven’t already subscribed. But at the same time, popular movies like Skyfall or Hunger Games, which are featured in the new ad, can be streamed from a variety of sources in an increasingly crowded market for internet video.
Amazon, meanwhile, faces an even tougher challenge: Getting people to realize that it’s in the streaming video market in the first place.