Amazon set to launch Prime streaming video in Canada, Jeremy Clarkson tweets

Amazon's streaming video service is about to launch in Canada, if the former host of Top Gear is to be believed.

Company won't confirm whether 1st streaming show in Canada means Prime service coming too

Amazon already streams video in many places it operates, but so far not in Canada. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

Amazon's streaming video service is about to launch in Canada, if the former host of Top Gear is to be believed.

Jeremy Clarkson seemingly let the cat out of the bag in a tweet promoting his new show on Thursday, telling his followers that his new Amazon-produced show The Grand Tour will be available in Canada next month, because Amazon has "gone global."

Amazon's Prime delivery service costs $99 a year and allows customers to get faster delivery as well as a host of other perks. One of the biggest benefits in recent years has been access to the company's catalog of streaming video, including the Emmy Award-winning show Transparent.

While Canadians have been able to sign up for Prime since 2013, access to the streaming service has been denied because of difficulties over rights.

When asked for confirmation that a rollout of video streaming is imminent, a spokesman with Amazon was coy. "We are excited to announce that The Grand Tour will be able to be streamed from over 200 countries and territories around the world in December," Kaan Yalkin said.

When asked to elaborate as to whether that means a full Prime video launch is coming, Yalkin said the service launched in Canada in 2013 and gives subscribers faster shipping, photo storage, access to deals and other exclusive discounts.

Unlike other streaming services that are designed to be revenue-generating businesses on their own, Amazon treats its Prime service as an add-on to its core business — selling things online.

Data suggests that Prime members spend an average of $1,200 US per year buying other products on Amazon. Non-Prime members, meanwhile, spend just $500 a year, on average.

The move would come at a time of great upheaval in the streaming space in Canada. Rogers and Shaw have announced they will close their service, Shomi, at the end of this month, leaving Bell's CraveTV as the main competitor to Netflix's massive foothold of more than five million customers in Canada.

Rogers says Shomi has signed up under a million people since its launch two years ago. CraveTV has about the same number.

CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais lambasted Rogers and Shomi for pulling the plug on Shomi just this week.

"Far be it for me to criticize the decisions taken by seasoned business people, but I can't help but be surprised when major players throw in the towel on a platform that is the future of content — just two years after it launched," Blais said.

"I have to wonder if they are too used to receiving rents from subscribers every month in a protected ecosystem, rather than rolling up their sleeves in order to build a business without regulatory intervention and protection."

A question unanswered following Shomi's cancellation is what will happen to the rights to the shows on offer via the service. Shomi owns the exclusive Canadian broadcast rights to stream Amazon's Transparent, for example.

So far, Rogers has said little about what it plans on doing with its rights catalog, an asset it spent heavily on to acquire.

For its part, Bell has expanded its streaming options since the demise of Shomi, signing deals with U.S. network Showtime for a suite of shows, and inking a pact to show the entire back catalog of James Bond movies.


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